Words of praise and congratulations poured in for 14th-year Kansas coach Bill Self, who on Saturday was named a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017.
From former KU head coach Larry Brown, one of Self’s mentors: “I think it’s wonderful. It’s an honor well-deserved. I was with Bill’s dad watching KU play and got to spend some time with him. His dad was saying, ‘You think there’s any way my son will get in the Hall of Fame?’ I said, ‘I think the first week of April he’ll get in, but that’s just me speaking.’ He’s had an amazing run. He’s really impacted a lot of lives which is the most important thing. When you coach at Kansas and you realize all the neat people who have been there and have helped make the game better, you’ve got to put his name right there on the top of the list. You are talking about (James) Naismith, coach (John) McLendon and coach (Dean) Smith, so many others. A lot of pretty neat people made the Hall of Fame at KU. I don’t know if there’s been many or any more special than Bill. I plan on being there in September (for induction weekend Sept. 8 in Springfield, Mass). It’s going to be a lot of fun."
From former KU head coach Ted Owens: “I am thrilled for him. I thought he might go in last year. He’s done an incredible job. I’ve said all along he is the complete package. He communicates so well with everybody. He is just the same great person that he was growing up in Edmond, Okla. He is a fine man and has done an incredible job at KU and for that matter everywhere he’s been. The consistency with which he’s done it is remarkable.”
Barry Hinson, head coach at Southern Illinois who worked on Self’s staffs at KU and Oral Roberts: “On behalf of every assistant coach who worked with him and every player who played for him, every staff member who has been around him, I can’t tell you how excited, proud and happy we are of this journey he’s been on and culminating with I’d say is an accolade shared by very few. I believe he stopped being my coach a long time ago. He became like a brother. I was emotionally happy yesterday (Friday in Phoenix, site of Final Four) because I got to find out. He whispered it to me while we were walking. I said, ‘You heard anything yet?’ He said, ‘It’s going to go through.’ I didn’t say anything except put my arm around him and said how proud I am. I said, ‘We need tickets to the ceremony because we’re coming.’”
KU assistant Norm Roberts, who has worked with Self at KU, Illinois and Oral Roberts: “Everybody is so happy for coach. It’s a great, great accomplishment. His consistency over the many years he’s coached, no matter what stops he’s been at, is incredible. To do what he did at Oral Roberts in building that program, to take Tulsa to heights they’d not been to, the coaching and recruiting he did at Illinois to get the program to ultimate heights, his prize of winning the national championship, another Final Four, the consistency of 13 straight Big 12 championships is unbelievable. It’s a terrific day for coach, his family, Jayhawk nation and Kansas basketball.”
KU assistant Kurtis Townsend, who has worked with Self for 13 seasons at KU: “I’m so happy for him because he’s one of those guys who never gives himself enough credit, never thinks he’s done well enough. The fact everybody else recognizes his achievements and what he’s done is great. He’s one of the best people I know as far as being a regular person. He’s a great guy, one of the best people I’ve been around. I was so happy last night. We were all together. To be able to be here and celebrate such an accomplishment is unbelievable.”
Former KU guard Jeff Hawkins: “I’ve been calling him a Hall of Fame coach for the last five to 10 years. It was a matter of time. It’s an unbelievable feat and accomplishment. I’m just happy and blessed I was able to be coached and mentored by him. What he gives to the program and athletes is so different than other programs and coaches. They could have done this (for Self) years ago and he still would have lived up to all the hype. I’m happy for him and thrilled to be part of his life and somebody who played for him.”
Former KU guard and former Self staff member Michael Lee: “I’m happy to be part of coach Self’s legacy. He taught me so much about the game and even more about life. He is so deserving of this honor.”
Former KU forward Wayne Simien: "I believe Bill Self is a Hall of Fame coach because he possesses the consistent ability to see a young man/team's potential, cultivate it and provide an environment for it to flourish beyond what it would have been ordinarily capable of. I'm grateful to have been a part of that legacy and overjoyed to continue to watch it thrive."
Greg Gurley, KU radio announcer/director development Williams Fund/former KU player in Roy Williams era: “This is well-deserved and overdue. He’s not a big awards guy and he will downplay it, but he deserves it not just for his coaching prowess. He is the whole package. He’s a great ambassador of one of the most prestigious jobs in all of college basketball and everyone who plays, works or deals with him on a daily basis, loves him.”
KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little in a statement: “When the first basketball coach in your university’s history was also the inventor of the game, expectations are high. Coach Self has met — and I would say exceeded — all expectations since arriving at KU and has confirmed his status among the great coaches in college basketball. On behalf of the University of Kansas and Jayhawks everywhere, I want to congratulate coach Self on his selection to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and I want to thank him for all he has done to continue KU’s remarkable basketball tradition.”
KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger in a statement: “Bill has earned this honor with his passion, his ability to teach, develop and adapt, and his consistency of excellence at the highest level over a long period of time. He has indelibly made his mark as a wonderful steward of the great tradition of Kansas Basketball.”
Self’s son, Tyler Self, who played for his father at KU, in recent interview with The Star: “His work ethic is something I admire. He brings it every day. He genuinely cares about each player on and off the court. He is brilliant. He is an amazing coach, amazing person. I think that’s why we can get all the great players that walk through these doors. He has a lot more to come, I feel like.”
KU guard Frank Mason in recent interview: “I can’t believe I got a chance to play with the best coach in the world. Not just on the court, he teaches you to become a better man every day. He pushes us to become better players and men.”