Justin Cross, a 6-foot-9, 215-pound junior forward from John A. Logan College in Carterville, Illinois has joined the Kansas men’s basketball team as a nonscholarship player, coach Bill Self confirmed to The Star on Friday.
Cross as a sophomore averaged 2.8 points and 4.4 rebounds a game while logging 4.5 minutes per game in 35 games for the national junior college champion Vols (33-2).
Cross cashed 31 of 66 shots for 47%. He was 36-of-44 from the free throw line for 81.8%. He was 0-for-4 from three.
John A. Logan won the 2023 NJCAA Division I title. The No. 1 seeded Vols (33-2) defeated reigning national champion Northwest Florida State 73-70 in the title game on April 11 in Hutchinson, Kansas.
The 2023 title marked the first in program history. Cross, who is from Oak Park, Illinois, played high school ball his senior year at Woodstock Prep in Connecticut.
“We’re excited to have Justin here,” KU coach Self told The Star on Friday night. “He’ll be great in practice and provide some more height to allow us to have more competitive practices and more depth in practice.’
Cross’ dad, Gene, is director of scouting and administration for the NBA’s New York Knicks. Gene Cross has been an assistant coach in the NBA G league and an assistant in college at DePaul, Virginia, Notre Dame and UIC. He was a head coach two seasons at Toledo.
Justin Cross and several members of the 2023-24 KU team are moving into McCarthy Hall this weekend. Cross was welcomed to the program in a Twitter video posted Friday. The summer school session at KU begins Tuesday.
A few players won’t be at KU for the start of summer school. Senior Parker Braun and freshman Marcus Adams have not yet finished classes of the 2022-23 school year and will be in Lawrence in two weeks, Self indicated. Kevin McCullar will be with family next week, then report for summer workouts.
Dajuan Harris is in Denver to attend Sunday’s Game 2 of the NBA Finals. He is best friends, of course, with former Jayhawk Christian Braun of the Nuggets, who lead the Miami Heat 1-0.
KU has 11 scholarship players on the team. They are: returning starters McCullar, Harris and KJ Adams, incoming freshmen Marcus Adams, Elmarko Jackson, Chris Johnson and Jamari McDowell and transfer portal additions Parker Braun, Hunter Dickinson, Nick Timberlake and Arterio Morris (Texas).
KU has walk-ons in Cross, Michael Jankovich, Wilder Evers and Dillon Wilhite.
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Gary Bedore covers all aspects of Kansas basketball for The Star — the current team as well as former players and coaches and recruiting. He attended KU and was born and raised in Chicago, as well as Lisle, Ill.