Udoka Azubuike's presence on the basketball court was even bigger than his 7-foot, 270-pound frame.
A senior for the Kansas Jayhawks, Azubuike saved his best for last. In his last home game at Allen Fieldhouse, Azubuike scored a career-high 31 points, brought down 14 rebounds and blocked a season-high 5 shots in a 75-66 win over TCU.
His last game as a Jayhawk was a 15-point, 11-rebound effort in a win over Texas Tech. Hours before he was supposed to take the court again in the Big 12 tournament, officials canceled it because of the coronavirus pandemic. Later that Thursday afternoon, the NCAA canceled all winter and spring sport championship events, including the NCAA tournament.
Although Azubuike, the 32nd-ranked prospect in ESPN's NBA draft rankings, might have a chance to play at the next level, his last moment on the college court wasn't supposed to be in the regular season. It was supposed to be in the Big Dance.
Azubuike, whose long résumé also includes being named Big 12 player of the year, came to the U.S. from Nigeria as a teenager and was a fixture for the Jayhawks over his four seasons in Lawrence.
So when ESPN's Scott Van Pelt wanted to honor all the seniors across the country, from high school to college, who lost out on memories because of cancellations, Kansas highlighted its star senior center for all he did, both when he was and wasn't wearing a basketball jersey.
Udoka Azubuike. Came to the United States from Nigeria at 14 with hopes of pursuing an education.— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) March 14, 2020
Now, he's graduating as one of the best big men in #KUbball history. Big 12 POTY. Up for countless awards. NCAA record holder in FG %. Academic All-Big 12.
One word: Proud pic.twitter.com/FB1d9qHb3k