KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The rocky love triangle between Naadir Tharpe, Bill Self and Kansas Jayhawks fans is over.
The junior point guard from New England is transferring out of KU, Jayhawk officials announced earlier this afternoon, citing family concerns with his daughter, 2-year-old Amara Grace.
"Naadir and I have talked numerous times since he’s been here about his role and about his situation back home with his daughter," Self, the KU coach, said in a statement released by the school today. "He’s told me many times how much he misses his little girl and she’s had some health issues that has (have) certainly made it difficult for him to be away from her for this extended period of time. She’s doing very well now, but Naadir approached me after the season was over about him wanting to be closer to her. This is his decision to try and accomplish that."
The 5-foot-11 Tharpe, a native of Worcester, Mass., averaged 8.5 points, 5.0 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game this past year, his third in Lawrence. His daughter was born during his freshman season at KU.
"Due to extenuating circumstances within my personal life, I will no longer be attending the University of Kansas," Tharpe said in a statement. "My daughter has current medical issues that require weekly visits to her physician, as well as with a specialist. At this juncture, I feel it is best to be closer to home where I can assist and support in any way necessary."
Whether because of his child or other mitigating factors, Tharpe’s junior campaign, his first as KU’s primary point guard, was a statistical roller coaster. And — unfortunately for the Jayhawks — he saved the worst numbers for last, averaging 5.5 points, 5.3 assists and 2.5 turnovers at the Big 12 tournament and the NCAA tournament.
KU stuck around for only two games in both events.
"I enjoyed my time here," Tharpe’s statement continued. "I appreciate the players that were here before me that I got a chance to play with and that are still friends with me right now. It’s going to be tough leaving a situation like this because of the teammates I’m leaving behind. Everything happens for a reason and I have to continue my journey a different way."
KU will, too. Sophomores Conner Frankamp and Frank Mason are expected to duke it out for Tharpe’s starting point guard slot in the months to come. And highly regarded prep recruit Devonte’ Graham said Wednesday that the Jayhawks are one of the final two schools vying for his services.
"Personally, it’s something that we 100 percent support and wish him nothing but the best," Self said. "I certainly appreciate all of his efforts since he’s been here. Naadir has been a good player for us in his three years here. But we also respect the fact that he wants to be closer to his daughter and we want to do everything we can to support that."
That said, Tharpe’s final bow with the Jayhawks was an unfortunate one — in late March, a photograph of the 22-year-old in a salacious pose with a woman went viral. The picture in question featured a shirtless (and possibly pants-less) Tharpe in an embrace with a blonde woman who appeared to be licking his face while her left breast was exposed.
Self said during a news conference shortly thereafter that he was "certainly extremely disappointed" in Tharpe’s decision-making.
It wasn’t the first time. But it apparently might have been the last.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter at @seankeeler or email him at email@example.com.