Bill Self related his favorite University of Kansas custom to several thousand first-year Jayhawks who gathered for “Traditions Night” on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
“This is probably as cool a place as there is when it comes to traditions. The greatest tradition there is,” KU’s 15th-year basketball coach said, “is at the end of every game when they (fans) yell, ‘Rock Chalk, Jayhawk.’ You know why it’s the best tradition, don’t you? It’s because we kicked somebody’s (butt),’’ Self added smiling.
The freshmen and transfers who received a crash course in university history on Saturday night roared their approval at Self’s comment, obviously looking forward to good times this winter in Allen Fieldhouse.
Members of the 2017-18 KU hoops team will congregate for a meeting with the coaches on Sunday, then like the rest of the student body, begin the academic calendar on Monday.
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“It’s obviously an exciting time I think for everybody, not only for the newcomers,” Self told a Star reporter as Self walked briskly to the parking lot in advance of another Saturday evening engagement.
“I think it’s an exciting time for the returnees,” Self said. “The thing about it is when you start school, everybody starts the same. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done prior to being here. Everybody’s got a fresh slate. You can kind of build the model however you want to build it. It’s an exciting time for all the kids,” Self added.
Self said the Jayhawks would immediately get to work.
“I think they’ve had enough time off. We’ll start workouts this week, probably on Tuesday,” Self said.
The basketball players have been vacationing in their hometowns and/or other spots since an Aug. 8 return from Italy. The Jayhawks practiced 10 times in July prior to playing four early August exhibitions in Rome and Milan.
“We’re not going to kill them, but I don’t think the Italy trip was that taxing that we need to back off,” Self said, indicating the annual two-week bootcamp conditioning program would likely begin Sept. 10.
Self said he likes the makeup of the team, which won four games in Italy by blowout margins.
“We’ve got some bright spots,” Self said. “We’ve got a long ways to go. The talent is pretty good. We need our front line to come through,” he said.
Udoka Azubuike, Billy Preston and Mitch Lightfoot are currently the team’s only eligible frontcourt players following the summertime departure of Jack Whitman. Power forward Dedric Lawson, a transfer from Memphis who can practice this season but not play in games until 2018-19, will be allowed to practice immediately, his recent suspension having expired.
Lawson is not in trouble for a Thursday incident in a Memphis bar in which a waitress told police Lawson did not pay for $88.20 bar tab. Lawson said he was wrongfully given the tab of some other patrons.
The restaurant’s general manager on Friday issued a statement saying Lawson was “a great patron of our restaurant, and we appreciate his business.”
“We talked,” Self said. “He (Lawson) was adamant. He said to me, ‘Coach I paid (for what he ordered),’’’ Self said.
Self said everybody on the team would likely be back Sunday with the possible exception of sophomore Azubuike, who has spent the past couple weeks in Jacksonville, Fla., where the Nigeria native attended high school at Potter’s House Christian Academy.
“I spoke with him today. We told him he could come back on Sunday night. I don’t know if he gets in Sunday night or Monday morning,” Self said.
No roster additions expected
KU has one scholarship to give following the summertime departure of Whitman.
The Jayhawks the past few weeks have been recruiting Mitchell Robinson, a 7-foot McDonald’s All-American out of Chalmette (La.) High School, who is ranked No. 8 in the recruiting class of 2017 by Rivals.com.
Robinson — who has visited KU, University of New Orleans and LSU since being released from his letter-of-intent by Western Kentucky — reportedly was to choose between Kansas and New Orleans or perhaps play overseas a year in advance of the 2018 NBA Draft. Because he practiced at Western Kentucky this summer, the freshman will need a waiver from the NCAA to be eligible for the upcoming season.
“I would think that we probably won’t sign anybody,” Self said, not addressing the Robinson recruitment specifically in accordance with NCAA rules.
Self’s son joins working world
Bill Self’s son, Tyler, has completed his first week as basketball operations quality assistant for the San Antonio Spurs.
Tyler played for the Jayhawks the past five seasons.
“I doubt he’s really had a chance to put his hand print on how to better the organization just yet,” Bill Self said with a smile. “I’m hoping he enjoys it and what a fabulous opportunity it is for him.
“I think it’s good to go learn something you don’t know. He’s obviously been around us a long time. He knows what we know. It’s time for him to go learn from some really smart guys and kind of develop his own philosophy and figure out what he wants to do.”
Though Tyler figures to have a variety of duties in San Antonio, one will likely not be scouting college players at this time.
“I don’t believe he’ll be doing that this year,” Bill Self said, not expecting Tyler to show up at KU workouts as a talent evaluator.
Self, 54, told the KU students on Saturday night he actually was jealous of them.
“If I could go back and change places with you, I promise I would do it in a heartbeat,” the 54-year-old Oklahoma State graduate said. “Enjoy yourselves, be responsible, be safe and ‘Rock Chalk Jayhawk.’’’
Jermaine Harris, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound senior power forward from Rock Creek Christian Academy in Clinton, Md., will visit Kansas on Oct. 6-8, his high school coach, Chris Cole, told Rivals.com. Harris, who is ranked No. 75 in the recruiting class of 2018 by Rivals.com, will also visit West Virginia (Sept. 15-17), Rhode Island (Sept. 22-24), Xavier (Sept. 29-Oct. 1) and Miami (Oct. 20-22). In the past, Maryland and South Carolina have been mentioned as possibilities. … Francis Okoro, a 6-9 junior forward from Normal (Ill.) Community West High School, has received a scholarship offer from KU, he reported Saturday on Twitter. Okoro is the No. 24-ranked player in the recruiting Class of 2019 by Rivals.com.