The Kansas Jayhawks have one championship under their belt – the Big 12 conference regular season title – and now they’re in pursuit of adding another, the 2015 NCAA National Championship. As Bill Self works to get his Kansas squad ready for March Madness, one Jayhawk whose been a key asset to the team’s success this season is gearing up for his first tournament appearance.
Kelly Oubre Jr., who arguably has the prettiest eyes in men’s college basketball, has been turning eyes and grabbing attention nationwide throughout this year.
Here’s what you need to know about Kelly Oubre Jr.:
1. Oubre Jr. Was Ranked as High as the No. 6 Recruit Coming Out of High School
The 6-foot-7 guard played at Findlay Prep High School in Henderson, Nevada his senior season. In 36 games that year, Oubre Jr. averaged 22 points, 7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.1 steals per game, helped lead his team to a 31-5 record and was ranked No. 1 in the state.
While ESPN ranked Oubre Jr. as the 11th recruit in the top 100, Rivals listed him as No. 6 in the nation.
And Rivals’ Eric Bossi said in his scouting report on September 23, 2013:
The southpaw is pure wing scorer with great size, deep range and a feel for the offensive end of things. He is a graceful one foot leaper when attacking the rim and has developed an in between game. Big frame is filling out and his ball handling is coming around quickly.
Oubre Jr. received offers from UConn, Florida, Georgetown, Kentucky, Louisville, Oregon and UNLV, but signed with Kansas on October 8, 2013, just four days after his visit.
2. Oubre Jr. Was a 2014 McDonald’s All-American
Last April in Chicago’s United Center, which is home to the Bulls, Oubre Jr. didn’t just participate in the 2014 McDonald’s All-American game for the West team, he made a significant difference in the final outcome.
With just 19.1 seconds remaining, Oubre Jr. hit two free throws to seal the 105-102 win over the East. He finished with 11 points, 7 boards, 2 steals and 3 blocks – one of which was against Indiana-commit James Blackmon Jr.
3. Oubre Jr. Survived Hurricane Katrina
The night of August 28, 2005, as Hurricane Katrina prepared her upcoming wrath on New Orleans, Kelly Oubre Sr. grabbed his 9-year-old son, packed up some of their belongings and headed west towards Houston, Texas.
Oubre Sr. was leaving behind the only hometown he had ever known – one that engrained childhood memories of poverty and hardships. He told The Kansas City Star that he didn’t want to see his son grow up the same as he did – and Hurricane Katrina just happened to be their solution for change.
I love New Orleans. But I had to be a realist about it. I didn’t want him to grow up like I did — guessing and wondering a lot about basic necessities.
And the hurricane didn’t just force Oubre Sr. and Jr. to move, it broke apart their family – his parents split and his mother Tonya Coleman Oubre, and two half-siblings, Amber and Gared, chose to stay in New Orleans.
As a single father in a new city, Oubre Sr. said basketball became something to share with his son on weeknights and the weekends. He said he quickly saw the skill and size his son possessed and after growing to have great success at both George Bush High School in Fort Bend, Texas and with his Houston Hoops AAU team, Oubre Sr. moved his son one last time.
Oubre Sr. and Jr. made the trek northwest to Henderson, Nevada where Oubre Jr. would play his senior year for the powerhouse Findlay Prep team.
When Oubre Jr. committed to Kansas, Oubre Sr. sat down and talked with head coach Bill Self. He said:
I don’t want somebody who’s going to kiss his (butt). I need somebody that’s going to help him grow as a basketball player.
4. Oubre Jr. Was a 2013 Under Armour Elite 24 Selected Player
Heading into his senior year, Oubre Jr. was invited to compete in the 2013 Under Armour Elite 24 game. The event, which started in 2005 and is televised on ESPNU, showcases the top high school basketball players from around the country. It’s held towards the end of August in New York City.
Oubre Jr. not only competed in the main game, but also took part in the 3-point shooting contest against players such as Joel Berry (UNC), Devin Booker (Kentucky), Justin Jackson (UNC) and Romelo Trimble (Maryland), according to NBC Sports’ College Basketball Talk.
5. Oubre Jr. Is Considered the No. 11 Pick for the 2015 NBA Draft
In his first season with the Jayhawks, Oubre Jr. has started 25 of his 34 games played, helped his team to an overall record of 23-6, and averaged 9.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.
According to DraftExpress, the 19-year-old is listed as the 7th-best NCAA freshman and No. 11 overall pick for the 2015 NBA Draft. He sits behind Texas’ Myles Turner (No. 10) and in front of Wisconsin big man Frank Kaminsky (No. 12).