Bill Self doesn’t hesitate when asked to name his all-time favorite Kansas basketball player.
It’s his son, Tyler, of course.
“I know there’s nothing I have enjoyed more in coaching than having my son on the team,” said Bill Self, KU’s 14th-year coach, of Tyler, a 6-foot-2 senior guard out of Free State High School.
It’s actually the fifth straight year Self has been able to enjoy working closely with his son. Tyler Self redshirted a year because of injury.
Bill Self acknowledged there could come a time this season he gets choked up thinking about the fact this is likely the last calendar year he sees his son on a daily basis.
“I haven’t cried yet today,” he said, joking. “I’m really looking forward to this year with the guys. Of course having Tyler around. It may get to the point it is (emotional) during the season.”
Tyler Self’s sense of humor may serve to keep his dad’s emotions in check.
“Half of the stuff he says is in one ear and out the other,” he said, smiling. “No, it’s fine,” he added of his dad often saying he is his favorite ballplayer. “He doesn’t say anything that bothers me or anything.”
On a serious note … “He’s done a nice job. He takes a lot of pride in what he does,” Bill Self said of his son. “He’s working on his MBA right now. He and Landen (Lucas) both are working on their MBAs. Next year he’ll start his career doing whatever he’s going to do and hopefully have time to work on his MBA on the side a little bit. I don’t know if coaching is his calling or what exactly.”
Of his career possibly being coaching, Tyler Self said: “I’d say it’s too early to predict. I’m not going to rule it out, but I don’t think it (coaching) is the path I want to take immediately.
“Whether it’s operations, coaching, whatever, I don’t know. I’m not going to rule anything out, but I do want to do something with basketball. That’s where my passion is.”
Tyler Self’s goal is to finish his studies while earning a paycheck at this time next year.
“That’s the thing,” he said. “The (MBA) program is all online. I can technically leave Lawrence and starting working somewhere and still finish it. As far as where I go, I have no idea.”
Tyler Self, 22, graduated last May in sports management. But he never considered leaving the team to concentrate on being a regular student. Former walk-on Chase Buford left the team with one season of eligibility remaining after KU won the 2008 NCAA title.
“He won the national championship and and got out, which wouldn’t be bad,” Tyler Self said. “I don’t have that choice,” he added, noting he wants an NCAA title.
Tyler Self scored three points his junior season, hitting a three versus Loyola. He also had four assists (one versus Austin Peay in the NCAA Tournament) and seven turnovers in his 14 appearances.
As a sophomore, Self scored two points — a bucket against Kent State. His freshman year, he had four points. He accepted a pass from Niko Roberts in the corner, drove the lane and converted a floater as he was fouled versus Texas on Feb. 16, 2013. He accepted a pass from Roberts on the wing during the break, drove and hit a bank shot versus Colorado on Dec. 8, 2012.
Like most walk-ons, Tyler Self hasn’t played a lot. Like most KU walk-ons, he doesn’t regret being a Jayhawk instead of heading to a smaller school where more minutes might have been a reality.
“I don’t think about that too much,” Tyler Self said. “I like where I’m at. I love this university, love this team. It’s not something that crosses my mind, too often.”
He might be better than his 14 teammates in another sport: Table tennis.
“It’s a tossup,” Tyler Self said of the best on the team. “Depending on who is playing well. Svi is really good. Evan (Manning off last year’s team) is really good. Devonté is making a run at it, but I think consistently I’m the best. I’m the guy to beat.”