After a busy week of directing Boot Camp workouts of his current players and hitting the road to recruit future players, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self rested while watching Saturday’s KU-West Virginia football game at Memorial Stadium.
“I’m tired. That’s what I’ll say about Boot Camp. I’m tired,” Self said with a smile after a halftime appearance on the Jayhawk radio network.
KU’s 15th-year hoops coach quickly added that he’d be re-energized for four more days of early-morning conditioning workouts Monday through Thursday in KU’s practice facility, followed by a day off Friday and the season-opening Late Night in the Phog on Sept. 30 at Allen Fieldhouse.
“It was a good week, not a great week,” Self said of Boot Camp, which ran from 6:15 a.m. until 7:15 a.m. last Monday through Friday. “The guys certainly look forward to it being over next week.”
Self said one of the Jayhawk newcomers — Billy Preston — stood out during week one Boot Camp exercises.
“Billy Preston has been probably our best one so far … of everybody (on the entire team),” Self said. “He’s in great shape. He’s trying really hard. I hope he can continue that.”
Preston is KU’s 6-foot-10, 240-pound McDonald’s All-American out of Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.
“He’s been a warrior, stud,” Self said of Preston. “He does everything hard. He’s not scared of it. He’s embracing it where some of the other guys were a little nervous.
“They are doing fine though,” Self added of all the players. They are doing pretty well. We had a rough day yesterday (Friday).”
Self also praised Preston while speaking as a guest on KU’s halftime show.
“Billy needs to play like a lottery pick, to be real candid with you, because there’s no question from a pure talent standpoint Billy Preston is the best player in our gym. But he’s young. He doesn’t know what he’s doing yet,” Self said.
“His motor doesn’t always run. There are things he has to improve on. There’s some exciting things. You look at it and say, ‘Udoka (Azubuike, sophomore center), Billy and Mitch (Lightfoot, soph forward) … if things fall perfect we ought to have the best frontline in the league. You could also look at it and say if things don’t fall perfect, (it’d be) middle of the pack real easy. We need those three to play big for us.”
As far as KU’s backcourt, “We have five really good guards, counting Marcus (Garrett),” Self said. “We are not great at getting our shoulders past people and putting pressure on the defense like Frank (Mason) was. Lagerald (Vick) is excellent at that, but Devonté (Graham) and Malik (Newman) have to get better at that. Obviously what they do is very good, but that would be something nice.”
Self reminded that the Jayhawks have just “eight scholarship players first semester (before Sam Cunliffe becomes eligible). That’s it — eight. If you get an injury here or there … I don’t want to be like the movie ‘Hoosiers’ where Gene Hackman says, ‘My team is on the floor,’ when he has only four out there.
“That could be the case. You foul three guys out, you may only be playing with four,” Self added with a laugh.
Self commented Saturday on athletic director Sheahon Zenger’s announcement of a five-year, $350 million fundraising effort called “Raise the Chant.” The project earmarks about $315 million for football while providing upgrades for Allen Fieldhouse, volleyball’s Horejsi Center and baseball’s Hoglund Ballpark.
Zenger also has revealed a new agreement with adidas. KU will sign a 12-year extension with the company. The new contract — 14 years in total — will provide $191 million in sponsorship and apparel.
“I am excited about it,” Self said. “I do think there’s some momentum to get some things done based on conversations I’ve heard about and had with some of our major donors. Of course David Booth giving us a kick start (and $50 million donation) was important. I think that is good. I think the deal with adidas is great. I think there are positive things to get some things done.
“We’ll benefit from it because we are going to do some renovations to Allen Fieldhouse. We are going to finish the second and third floor, which has to be done. I know baseball is part of it. Volleyball is a big part of it. The lion’s share of it is obviously with football and deservedly so.”
McCormack decision Sunday
KU on Sunday is hoping for good news regarding the recruitment of David McCormack, a 6-foot-10, 260-pound senior center from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.
He will announce for either KU, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State or Xavier at 5 p.m. Central Time, on Virginia’s WAVY TV Channel 10 news.
Various analysts believe KU is the heavy favorite to land McCormack, the No. 33-rated player in the recruiting class of 2018, according to Rivals.com. Self cannot comment on specific recruits in accordance with NCAA rules.