LAWRENCE — A two-decade-old relationship helped Kansas basketball secure its latest five-star recruit.
Bryce Thompson, a 6-foot-5 combo guard out of Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, Okla., orally committed to the Jayhawks on Tuesday morning, picking Bill Self’s squad over fellow finalists North Carolina, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Thompson is listed as the nation’s No. 19-ranked prospect in the Class of 2020 according to recruiting outlet 247Sports’ composite.
Thompson’s family has a long history with Self, who coached Bryce’s father, Rod, in 1997-98, the head coach’s first year at Tulsa.
“Their relationship has remained strong since my dad graduated in 1998,” Thompson told the Tulsa World. “As one of coach Self’s players, my dad knows coach Self’s level of expectation and the intensity he requires each time players take the floor. Coach Self is the type of coach I want to play for.”
Thompson’s own relationship with Self goes back nearly a decade, well before the recruiting process had even begun.
“My first memory with coach Bill Self was in the Union High School gym when I was (a third-grader). Kansas was in Tulsa for a postseason game and I got to take a picture with him,” Thompson said. “That was my first time to meet coach Self in person. It’s crazy how it’s all come back full circle and now I’m about to sign with Kansas.”
According to Thompson, Self explained “the whole blueprint” of where he’d fit in with the Jayhawks, who have a recent track record of producing at Thompson’s position.
“Coach Self talked about developing players for the next level,” Thompson said. “He talked about how Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham developed their games as Jayhawk guards and went on to earn multiple college basketball honors. He talked about how their work ethic and the instruction of coaches created something special.”
Thompson is the Jayhawks’ first five-star commitment since Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes in the Class of 2018. Of the program’s ongoing issues — the NCAA in a September delivered a notice of allegations that outlined five Level I violations it says were committed by KU, which is in the process of formally responding to the charges — Thompson said he’s “aware of the controversy” surrounding the team.
“It did concern me a bit at the beginning, until I went on my visit and I was able to talk face-to-face with some of the administration, including athletic director Jeff Long,” Thompson said. “My mom doesn’t play. She asked every question in the book. Mr. Long was able to answer them directly and stayed on point. He didn’t veer off into some other conversation. I appreciated that.”
Thompson joins four-star players Gethro Muscadin (6-10, 215-pound high school center) and Tyon Grant-Foster (6-6, 190-pound junior college forward) in the Jayhawks’ Class of 2020.
“Playing in Allen Fieldhouse will be amazing,” Thompson said. “I’m excited to play in front of 16,000-plus fans who love the game, are loud and are unwavering in their support. I look forward to adding to the Kansas tradition, as I have at Booker T. Washington.”