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‘I was ecstatic’: Why new Kansas Jayhawks guard Nick Timberlake already feels at home

Jayhawks newcomer Nick Timberlake has a knack for being in the right spot on the court for an open jumper.

That was on full display Wednesday as the Kansas men’s basketball team played a scrimmage in front of hundreds of campers at KU coach Bill Self’s annual basketball camp.

Timberlake finished with 15 points, including three three-pointers.

“I had that one open corner shot,” Timberlake said. “Nobody was in the paint, so I decided to dunk it. I needed to see one go through. After that, I felt good.”

Playing for Kansas is a dream come true for the Towson transfer.

“It’s crazy — I didn’t believe I was going to be here when I entered the portal,” Timberlake said. “I thought maybe 10-15 schools would call. Kansas called the second day and I was ecstatic.”

As for why he chose KU over UConn and North Carolina? His decision centered around Self.

“My dad said in one of the articles, it’s Kansas,” Timberlake said. “I get to play for Coach Self. Probably the best coach in the country, in my opinion. It was a hard decision, but at the end of the day I am very excited with what I decided.”

Timberlake moved to Lawrence last Saturday but already feels at home with his new teammates.

“It was a quick transition ... you would have thought we’ve known each other for years,” Timberlake said. “It’s actually insane. We’ve been saying it the whole week. The first two days we were here, we were all together — all hanging out. It’s a family already.”

Things like this have helped: KJ Adams and his girlfriend cooked dinner for the entire KU team recently. On the menu? Tacos … and some quality bonding time for this new-look Jayhawks roster.

KU returns just three scholarship players from last season: Adams, Dajuan Harris and Kevin McCullar. So team-building events are pivotal right now as guys get acquainted.

“You get to see everyone’s personality,” Timberlake said. “You see people’s personalities on the court, but off the court, people can be different. It’s going to be one whole unit this year. It’s going to be very exciting.”

Perhaps it was that team dinner, but KU’s play looked crisp Wednesday — especially for a squad that’s had just one day of practice together.

“I thought, for the second day out here, I thought we look smooth,” Timberlake said. “It’s just going to get cleaner and cleaner as we go through everything ... It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Last season Timberlake averaged 17.7 points on 45.5% shooting, grabbing 3.9 rebounds and dishing 2.4 assists per game. He was the first option on offense for Towson but will play the role of floor-spacing shooter for KU.

And Timberlake’s top quality might be off the court. Heading into his final season of college eligibility, he’s seen it all.

“I feel like I bring veteran leadership been around for a little bit — in my sixth year,” Timberlake said. “I haven’t been at this level, but I’ve been part of winning programs. KJ, Juan, know what it takes to win a national championship, so that helps a lot. Our veterans are very, very savvy.”