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KU basketball to sign 3 high school basketball players during early signing period

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Kansas basketball is expected to sign three high school seniors — including one top-10 prospect in big man Flory Bidunga — during the early, weeklong men’s basketball national letter-of-intent signing period, which runs Wednesday through Nov. 15.

Members of the class of 2024 who have orally committed to KU are:

Bidunga, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound center from Kokomo (Indiana) High SchoolLabaron Philon, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound point guard from Link Year Academy in Branson, Missouri andRakease Passmore, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound wing from Combine Academy in Lincolnton, North Carolina.

Bidunga is ranked No. 6 in the class of 2024 by Rivals.com and ESPN.com and No. 8 by 247Sports.com. Philon is ranked No. 27 by 247Sports.com, No. 35 by ESPN.com and No. 40 by Rivals.com. Passmore is rated No. 48 by 247Sports.com, No. 49 by Rivals.com and No. 52 by ESPN.com.

Bidunga is Kansas’ first top-10 recruit since Quentin Grimes in 2018. His high school coach told Zagsblog.com that Bidunga will sign his national letter-of-intent on Thursday.

Bidunga, who is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, on Aug. 12 announced for Kansas over Auburn, Duke and Michigan. He also considered Indiana, Kentucky, Florida, Cincinnati, Purdue, Michigan State and others during the recruiting process.

Asked when he knew he wanted to be a Jayhawk, Bidunga, who first started playing basketball in 2019, told The Star: “When I went down to visit (in early May), coach (Bill) Self talked to me about how serious I am about them and how serious they are about me. The visit went so well. I feel I liked everything there.”

He said his strength on the court is “scoring, rebounding. I like to do all of it.”

Of Bidunga, On3.com analyst Joe Tipton wrote: “Five-star Bidunga is an explosive athlete. The lefty moves in a way that others don’t. He rebounds it well, he defends well and he finishes — with authority — above the rim.”

Philon, who is originally from Mobile, Alabama, on Sept. 25 announced for Kansas over over Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi and Cincinnati. Philon decommitted from Auburn in April after Tigers assistant head coach Wes Flanigan departed for Mississippi.

Philon told The Star he would sign his national letter-of-intent at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

“I chose Kansas because my game can fit into their system really well,” Philon told On3.com. “Coach Self is one of the best coaches ever and I can come in and make a big impact for the team. I would describe my game as smooth, being able to drive and knock down tough shots. (I’m) also a player who can get it done on both sides and lead a team.”

Philon as a junior at Baker High in Mobile averaged 35.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.6 steals per game. He hit 52% of his shots, including 34% of his 3s and 82% of his free throws. He had 51 points in one game.

Philon left the state for Link Academy with 2,334 career points in three seasons. He was on track to become a top 10 scorer in state history, according to Maxpreps.com. In August, the Team Thad AAU player averaged 13.0 points, 5.0 assists and 4.2 rebounds a game during the prestigious Peach Jam event.

“Labaron was a great leader for us on and off the court,” Team Thad director Norton Hurd told On3.com. “I feel he is arguably the best point guard in the country in 2024 with his balance of creating for himself and others. He competes like no other. He will do great things in college and beyond.”

Passmore, who is originally from Palatka, Florida, on Oct. 11 chose KU over Oklahoma and LSU. He also received offers from Arkansas, Oregon, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, USC, Virginia, Houston and others.

He played at A.C. Reynolds High School in Asheville, North Carolina before transferring to Combine for his junior season of high school. Passmore played quarterback in Florida until suffering a concussion in eighth grade. At that point he took up basketball.

“I feel like Kansas made the most sense for me with the way they coach,” Passmore told On3.com. “Their winning culture … they win a lot and I like to win. Bill Self is one of the greatest coaches in college. I think I fit in. They have a history of getting guys to the next level and they feel like I can be one of those guys with my athleticism and shooting. They’ve been able to show me other guys with similar playing styles that they’ve helped become pros.”

Passmore attended Late Night in the Phog on his official visit to KU. He is expected to sign his letter Wednesday, according to JayhawkSlant.com.

“Passmore is one of the more explosive athletes in the country who is strong, can really defend and has consistently been improving his halfcourt skillset. He is able to make shots from 3 and get downhill,” wrote Travis Branham of 247sports.com.

Of Passmore, a Team Thad teammate of Philon, On3.com’s Shaw wrote: “Passmore is a lengthy and highly explosive wing. At 6-5, there is talk of him having a 46-inch max vertical jump. When he gets a head of steam, he attacks the rim with bad intentions. Passmore is much developed as a shooter. The release is high and consistent. …

“Passmore has a high-level work ethic, which is evident by his rapid improvement over a short amount of time. He averaged 21 points playing with the Garner Road program on the Adidas 3SSB 16u Circuit. There is a massive upside here, and the work is showing to reach his vast ceiling.”

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