Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, who landed a power forward in No. 8-ranked Billy Preston and combo guard in No. 37-rated Marcus Garrett during the early signing period, seeks additional impact high school signees next spring.
“We’d like to get more of everything, but we have to get us a guard — have to,” Self told several hundred Williams Fund members during Wednesday’s Roundball Club luncheon at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown.
The Jayhawks are in the running for No. 14-ranked (by Rivals.com) Trae Young, a 6-foot-2 senior point guard from Norman (Okla.) North High and No. 3 Trevon Duval, a 6-2 senior point guard from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
“There’s pressure on us to get a legitimate guard, a point guard that can handle a starting point-guard position,” Self said, explaining his reasoning while not naming names of prospects in accordance with NCAA rules.
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“On the perimeter, Frank’s gone,” Self said of senior guard Frank Mason. “Devonté … who knows?” he added of junior guard Devonté Graham, who is listed as the second pick of round two of the 2017 NBA Draft by draftexpress.com.
“Josh (Jackson, freshman guard) is gone … more than likely. I mean that probably would be a good bet, and Svi (Mykhailiuk, junior guard), who knows what will happen with Svi, because Svi’s family is in the Ukraine. They (family members) are counting on him. Who knows how it will play out? There’s a chance he’d be back, but a chance he’d be gone, too. Of course Lagerald (Vick, sophomore guard) will be back and Malik Newman (red-shirt sophomore guard) will be back.”
Jackson is listed as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 Draft and Mykhailiuk the third pick of the second round by Draftexpress.com.
Self has high hopes for Preston, a 6-foot-9 senior from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., and Garrett, a 6-5 senior from Dallas Skyline High. Garrett is projected to be a three or four-year player; Preston a likely one-and-done.
“In my mind, we had to get one big. We had to get a big that was a difference maker. Udoka (Azubuike, freshman center) has to come back (because of NBA Draft age requirements). We were able to do that,” Self said of landing an impact frontcourt player.
“Billy is a legitimate … I mean a much bigger, better at the same stage Marcus Morris. He can do a little bit of everything. Now whether or not he ends up being that good … but I mean, same stage not close,” added Self, who has one remaining scholarship to give in recruiting, more if any non-seniors leave the program.
Current team ‘fun to watch’
Self also spoke about his current team at the Marriott luncheon. The Jayhawks are off to a 9-1 start entering Saturday’s game against Davidson at 6 p.m. at the Sprint Center.
“I think this team is awfully, awfully fun to watch. It’s more fun to watch than a lot of teams we’ve had in large part because everybody can make plays with the ball. We’re pretty athletic,” Self said. “It’s actually a very fun team to coach because it’s a very unselfish group. Everybody is looking to make the extra pass. We’ve got to get tougher. We rebound certain days. We defend certain possessions.
“We better improve because the league is so good. The league is going to be a monster.”
Self addressed the fact KU has made 130 of 221 free throws for 58.8 percent.
“One thing I’ll go ahead and answer before anybody asks it … yes, we do practice free throws.
“Obviously the way we practice them is probably not the correct way to practice them,” Self added. “If we just tighten up a couple of things I think this will be a fun team and have a chance to be really good at the end.”
Coleby not 100 percent
Self on junior forward Dwight Coleby, who has played sparingly this season:
“He is actually structurally healthy. He had ACL surgery about 14 months ago, plenty of time (to heal). Structurally he is fine, but from a rehab standpoint, strength standpoint, explosion standpoint he has not been able to recover. I hate it for him. He’s a great kid, but he’s probably 75 or 80 percent.
“We are not putting him at risk putting him out there but he drags his leg. You can see it as he plays. He can’t let it go. He’s actually better than he was a month ago. Maybe by February he’ll be better. Barring something unforseen, I don’t see him getting the explosion back this year as what he had before. That’s not uncommon. You’ve heard of microfracture knee surgeries people have. A lot of times it’s two or three years later, like when Keith Langford had his (knee surgery). It was two or three years later before he got all his pop back. It happens differently with some kids.”