Gradey Dick’s first collegiate double-double comes in KU’s first-round win over Howard

Wichita native Gradey Dick, a lifelong Kansas Jayhawks fan, finally has fulfilled his dream of competing for his favorite college team in the NCAA Tournament.

“Growing up in Kansas and going to a lot of open practices when they were in Kansas City, it made me want to be in there one day. That was my goal. To actually be here and get my first taste of March Madness, it’s special to me and my family,” Dick, KU’s 6-foot-8, 205-pound freshman wing, said after scoring 19 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, dishing five assists and swiping three steals in the Kansas Jayhawks’ 96-68 first-round tourney victory over Howard at Wells Fargo Arena.

Dick recorded his first double-double as a Jayhawk. He also became the first KU freshman to record a double-double in a tournament game since March 25, 2017, when Josh Jackson scored 10 points with 12 rebounds against Oregon.

“It’s obviously my first one, so it means something. I think I kind of knew toward the end of the game,” Dick said of recognizing the fact he had a double-double. “I was kind of trying to use the face-guard to my advantage and get some rebounds.”

Sophomore forward KJ Adams, who scored 13 points with four rebounds and two blocks, was impressed with Dick’s performance.

“The Big 12 prepared us for moments like this and games like this, and Gradey probably had a little breather (today),” Adams said. “They weren’t face-guarding him as hard as teams usually were, so he got a little breather in. He just makes good shots, and that’s what he did today — and got on the boards.”

Dick hit 7 of 13 shots — he was 3-of-5 from three and 2-of-2 from the line — in 32 minutes.

“There was a part of it where I was pretty exhausted, but those are the most fun games when you are going up and down, and anything can happen,” Dick said of a fast-paced game in which KU hit 52.1% of its shots to Howard’s 38.8%. KU had 22 assists, 12 turnovers; Howard 18 assists, 18 turnovers.

“We just need to — when times like that happen, we need to buy into the defensive side and include it for sure,” he added of playing better ‘D.’

Dick’s 11 rebounds topped his career high of nine set against Oklahoma State on Dec. 31, 2022.

By hitting a three in the first half, Dick moved into first place on KU’s all-time freshman three-pointers list. He surpassed Jeff Boschee, who made 79 in 1999. Dick has 82 for his career.

Dick’s 19 points also moved him into fourth all-time in KU freshman scoring history with 500 points. On Thursday he passed Xavier Henry (483) and Danny Manning (496).

Of his pulling down 11 boards, Dick said: Today it was falling pretty good, but at the same time I was trying to see how the defense was guarding me. If they were face-guarding me, that gives me an advantage to see the rim in full view, so they can’t if they’re looking at me. It was a good advantage for me.”