'Bittersweet' NBA draft night for Kansas ends with Azubuike as a first-rounder and Dotson headed to Chicago

Kansas guard Devon Dotson (1) alerts the defense during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self characterized Wednesday night’s NBA draft as “bittersweet” for fans of the KU program.

Early in the night, the Jayhawks watched center Udoka Azubuike land in the first round at No. 27 overall to Utah, proving that all of the hard work he put in during the years — and particularly last season — paid off.

A couple of hours later, however, many people close to the Kansas program sat stunned as point guard and former KU All-American Devon Dotson was not picked at all.

“Dok, I thought, went as high as he possibly could,” Self said in a Zoom call with reporters following Wednesday’s draft. “So happy for him. Happy for the organization he went to. I know that he was emotional and ecstatic. And then you have the total polar opposite with Devon.”

Two players who dominated college basketball and the Big 12 last season experienced dramatically different draft nights.

“It's a bittersweet night for us,” Self added. “Because I can't believe that there were eight point guards or whatever there were in the draft better than Devon.”

None of that mattered, however, when the dust settled and news started leaking about free agent deals in the hour following the draft.

Azubuike was still a first-rounder and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Dotson had agreed to a free agent contract with the Chicago Bulls.

For a kid who grew up in Chicago and spent his childhood idolizing former Bulls star Derrick Rose, a tough night eventually led to a pretty good consolation prize.

“It's not the end,” Self said of Dotson’s status as an undrafted prospect. “He’s just going to have to do it the hard way, and sometimes doing it the hard way plays out to be the best way. So he'll stay positive and he'll stay focused and I'm sure that he'll still yet ripple some waters.”

Self admitted to being surprised that Dotson went undrafted, but, having been through the process a number of times in his days as a head coach, he also said he understood how it could happen.

“You can't really say that he deserved more than what some of the others may have got tonight,” Self said. “But in our biased eyes I certainly felt like he was overlooked in a way that I haven't seen very often with any of our very own.

“But he's going to be fine; he's just going to have to keep grinding. I certainly thought he played a way that would always give him a chance (to get drafted) because of his speed. But you know beauty is in the eye of the beholder and sometimes guys are looking for a little bit something different, and certainly you can't fault them for feeling that way.”

Self, who keeps in contact with various people in NBA circles throughout the year, said there was no indication prior to Wednesday that Dotson was in jeopardy of not getting drafted.

“Everybody that we talked to was very impressed with his work at his workouts, his work ethic, his interviews, those sorts of things,” Self said.

Beyond playing for his hometown team that he grew up cheering for, Self said landing with the Bulls could provide Dotson with other advantages early on that could help jump-start his professional career.

“You know, he's from Chicago and their G League team is in Chicago, if I'm not mistaken, so I think that would be a big bonus, to have something close as far as the opportunity to still be a part of the organization and be in the same city. So we'll see.”

As he has said in years past, with other Jayhawks who were not drafted, Self reiterated Wednesday that the draft reached a point midway through the second round where he thought it probably would be best for Dotson to not get drafted so he and his agent could pick their destination.

“There are success stories like this,” Self said. “I don't think anybody really anticipated Devon going in the first round, and I think we were all hopeful he would go sometime early second. When it didn't work out, after it kind of start getting away, I think it was probably best it ended this way.”

Comments

Len Shaffer

Absolutely incomprehensible. There are going to be a lot of teams regretting their stupidity on this one ...

As for Dok, what a wonderful surprise!

1 week, 3 days ago

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Keith Gellar

NBA teams factor history with KU guards in NBA + fact that majority of Dot's accomplishments were against Big12 which is a weak, weak, weak conference to say the least. He will have to prove himself.

1 week, 3 days ago

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Dale Rogers

The Big12 was weak? Seriously? Thanks for the laughs. Downright guffaw material. Go back under your rock.

1 week, 3 days ago

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Keith Gellar

name another team in the big12 that is legit good? Failor? Choklahoma? Texas which has been a huge huge disappointment. Lets face it - Big12 if a football league. For basketball, outside of KU, all other Teams are straight up garbage.

1 week, 3 days ago

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Shannon Gustafson

Three different B12 teams have made the Final 4 since 2016 and there is a very good chance two of them would have done it last year (KU and Baylor were two of the top 5 teams in the country all year).

Teams don't care what prior KU guards have done in the NBA as it has no bearing on how the next one will do. Kentucky's Ashton Haggans also went undrafted...was that because of what prior Kentucky guards have done in the NBA?

1 week ago

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Dirk Medema

It’s amazing to read the reviews of the pgs taken ahead of him. Glad he landed with da’Bulls.

1 week, 3 days ago

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Andy Godwin

As I commented right after the last named was called (I decided to stay tuned in until Devon, who was dressed to the nines, was drafted) it is hard to believe that there are 60 better college/high school players than Dotson. By the way I loved Devon’s reference about being the 2020 national champs in the lining of his suite jacket.

One of the issues about the so called “experts” who predict the draft order is they don’t know all of the international players who the league want to draft to enhance their exposure outside the US. At the end of the night Devon was listed as Jay Bills’ next best on the board (for the last 6 or so choices) and they made zero comments about him remaining undrafted given the annoying 15 to 20 minutes of commercials with almost no discussion of final 10 drafted players.

The NBA is fixated on much taller players who can play 1-4 and Devon is an undersized true point guard, who is extremely quick and an absolute fearless finisher at the rim. Hopefully he will take the draft snub as another challenge and work his way into the league (still prefer the college game by leaps and bounds). Good luck to both Udoka and Devon. All Jayhawks basketball fans greatly appreciated your days at KU. Rock Chalk.

1 week, 3 days ago

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Dane Pratt

If there is a lesson to be learned in the 2020 draft it would be to stay in college if it can improve your draft stock. I doubt Udoka would have been taken in the first round and I doubt Frank, Devonte and Svi would be in the NBA had they played anything less than four years of college. Devon can still make it in the NBA but the chances of that happening would be quite a bit higher had he been drafted. Just because you have NBA potential doesn’t mean you can get on a roster.

1 week, 2 days ago

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Dirk Medema

Neither Mason, Graham, or Svi were 5* McDs. Maybe the comparison is the proverbial Apple and orange.

1 week, 2 days ago

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Dane Pratt

naw, the number of stars they got in high school has nothing to do with it.

1 week, 2 days ago

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Robin Smith

this is a pretty good situation to be in. PG is an area of weakness for the Bulls and Billy D is a smart guy

one way or another I see a future for Dotson in the NBA

6 days, 12 hours ago

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