Joseph Yesufu, former star player for Drake’s men’s basketball, became a 2022 NCAA national champion after transferring to the University of Kansas earlier that season.
Yesufu is a guard from Bolingbrook, Illinois. He transferred to Kansas for the 2021-2022 season, in which Kansas made a successful run through March Madness to make it to the national championship game.
The national championship game occurred on April 4, 2022 between the Kansas Jayhawks and the North Carolina Tarheels. With a No. 1 ranking, KU had high expectations for their performance against No. 8 UNC.
“I am from Kansas City and a lot of my friends go to KU, so I was definitely rooting for the Jayhawks, and it was awesome to also have a [former] Drake player that I was rooting for.” said Oliver Bihuniak, a graduate student from Kansas City.
With a strong start, Kansas and head coach Bill Self seemed confident in the early minutes of the game before falling behind to UNC by 16 points. Despite this deficit, the Jayhawks made a quick change to create a comeback to win the game 72-69, making this comeback the largest in national championship history.
First-year student Irvan Abarca watched the game in his dorm with friends.
“We were watching the game and we saw [Yesufu] on the bench, and it was crazy realizing he was from Drake,” Abarca said. “It was pretty exciting to see a Drake player be at such a top school.”
Although Yesufu did not play any minutes in the national championship game, he, alongside his teammates and coaches, became a 2022 national champion after the difficult win.
As a 3-star recruit, Yesufu joined the Drake Bulldogs as a first-year in 2019. He began as a bench player gaining sufficient game time and quickly made his way into the starting five. He had an average of 10 points per game. As his talent grew alongside his playing time, Yesufu gained attention from top basketball schools, including Texas and Kansas.
In April of 2021, Yesufu announced his transfer to the University of Kansas to play under coach Bill Self.
During his 2021-2022 season, Yesufu averaged 10 minutes per game. Although he was not a starter for KU, nor did he play in the championship game, he had an impact on KU’s success in the tournament as he played in several March Madness games.
“I follow the basketball team pretty closely, so I remember his first few games with Drake, and he was a huge difference maker,” said sophomore Evan Carlson. “Obviously, I wish he was still at Drake, but it was honestly really cool to see a Bulldog on the national championship team.”