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Sam Cunliffe soon will be more than just a practice player for Kansas

Blue Team guard Sam Cunliffe dishes a pass beyond defender Tyshawn Taylor during a scrimmage on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

Blue Team guard Sam Cunliffe dishes a pass beyond defender Tyshawn Taylor during a scrimmage on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center. by Nick Krug

By the time Sam Cunliffe is eligible to play in his first game for Kansas, which will be at Nebraska on Dec. 16, barring one of his professors spacing out and not getting his first-semester grade in on time, the Seattle native will have played in practice for Kansas coach Bill Self for a full year.

So what type of player are the Jayhawks adding?

“He’s an athlete,” senior guard Devonte’ Graham said.

The internet is loaded with examples of Cunliffe’s acrobatic dunks.

What else?

“He can steal extra possessions and you know coach loves guys like that who can go offensive rebound, get out in the passing lanes,” Graham said. “He can shoot the ball really well too. He’s been shooting well in practice. And he also can be another defensive stopper.”

It wasn’t dissatisfaction with playing time that caused Cunliffe to transfer from Arizona State. He started all 10 of his games there and averaged 25.4 minutes per game. he also averaged 9.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.8 turnovers. Cunliffe shot .314 on 2-point shots and .405 on 3-pointers.

Coming out of high school he was ranked No. 36 in his class by Rivals.

Search for "Sam I Am" on youtube and you'll find a three-episode series on Cunliffe. Each one is roughly 30 minutes.

Cunliffe won't have any trouble keeping up with the fleet Jayhawks. Speed runs in the family. His sister, Hannah, a senior at Oregon, was 60-meter champion at the NCAA Indoor meet.

Running at altitude, she was clocked in a collegiate-record 7.07 in a heat. She won the final in 7.14.

She was named Pac-12 female track and field athlete of the year in 2016 and was on course to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in the 100 meters, but suffered a hamstring injury that put that dream on hold for four years.

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