Hall of Fame coach Bill Self wants to squash any and all rumors about his possibly taking another job and leaving Kansas after 16 seasons.
“I’m totally happy right now. I’m not going anywhere … anywhere,” he forcefully stated to reporters at the conclusion of Tuesday’s annual KU men’s basketball awards banquet at the Burge Union.
“I’ll be the coach here at Kansas next year.”
Self was speaking about an hour after athletic director Jeff Long addressed the banquet-goers and stressed he and KU chancellor Doug Girod were “thrilled” with Self and were planning on him leading the program “many, many more years.”
“I’ll speak to this,” Self said, “whenever there were rumors and there have been a lot — there’s always rumors with no basis behind any of them that I was not going to be coach here, that I was going to a different place or going to not be around because of the NCAA or whatever. … People have used that against us (in recruiting). That couldn’t be further from the truth.”
The NCAA ruled in February that KU sophomore Silvio De Sousa had to sit out the rest of the season and all of 2019-20 because his guardian received a payment from “a university booster and agent,” a former representative of Adidas, KU’s shoe sponsor, who also testified in federal court that he paid the mother of former KU player Billy Preston. The NCAA is also seeking information from the federal trial related to corruption into college basketball recruiting.
“As soon as the NBA rumors came out,” Self said Tuesday, “I went to our administration and said, ‘Hey, just so you know, I’m not going anywhere.’ I certainly wouldn’t go anywhere right now. I’ve still got three years left on my deal. Hopefully sometime between now and the end of that, there will be some talks about re-upping that.”
Self’s contract runs out on March 31, 2022.
“I think he did one of his best coaching jobs in an illustrious 16 years,” Long said during a speech at the banquet. “There’s no one better to lead our program now and in the future than Bill Self. We’ve heard all the rumors about Coach Self leaving us. I heard that; Bill heard that. We’ve talked about it. We’ve discussed it. Bill has addressed speculation with the media.”
Long conceded that some have tried to use rumors of Self leaving to hurt recruiting.
“I’ve got news for them. That stuff won’t work,” Long said. “These are just rumors. To be clear, Chancellor Girod and I are thrilled that Bill Self is the leader of our basketball program winning championships in the right way as he has done the last 16 years. We are planning for him to lead this program for many, many more years.”
Self returned the compliment in his speech at the banquet: “We appreciate everything Jeff is doing with our athletic department, putting his handprint over it. It’s been a very positive first eight, nine months of his tenure. The chancellor has been so supportive of everything going on,” Self said.
He added: “I feel very, very good having total support of our administration and our staff and support (staff) does as well.”
Doke, De Sousa decisions coming?
KU’s De Sousa and Udoka Azubuike have until 10:59 p.m. Central time Sunday to enter their names in the 2019 NBA Draft.
“You know they are staying if they don’t announce by the 21st. The 21st is the deadline,” Self said. “I’m actually OK with whatever they decide to do. With Silvio (who is appealing his NCAA suspension for the 2019-20 season) I haven’t quite thought it all the way through, talking with him and everything. I think it may be in his best interest to declare. If we don’t know where this is it buys another month for him to get a chance to try out for some folks and see what happens. The reality of it is, is he needs another year of college to definitely create the most earning power he could possibly have. Right now he doesn’t have that much. Nobody’s seen him play.”
The problem for Azubuike in possibly declaring is that his hand injury will keep him for working out for NBA teams prior to the draft. He might not be able to convince teams to draft him if he can’t play at the mid-May NBA combine and ensuing one-on-one workouts with teams.
“Doke, whatever you decide to do, you’ve got us (in your corner) no matter what,” Self said to Azubuike during the banquet. “We love you. I feel you will get the last laugh.”
Dotson working out in Chicago
Freshman point guard Devon Dotson said he has been working out in Chicago and will sign with an agent. He still can return to KU for next season if he drops out of the NBA Draft by May 29 and then disassociates himself from the agent.
“It’s a win-win scenario. There are no negatives to the process,” Dotson said of testing the draft waters. Self said Dotson has his academic responsibilities in order and will be eligible next season despite spending some time this spring in Chicago.
Signing period begins
Wednesday is the start of the month long spring signing period in recruiting. KU figures to have six or seven slots to fill depending on pro decisions.
“I think we’re going to get some guys. I think we’re going to better ourselves without question,” Self said. “Some of you think the most important recruiting we could do is right here on campus (with the players considering staying in draft). I’m not going to do it. If it’s best for them to try, they’ll try. That will determine if they come back or not. I think we’ll be just fine moving forward”
Self lauds Larry Keating
Self at the banquet praised Larry Keating, special assistant to the athletic director at KU since 2003.
Keating has been in charge of KU’s men’s basketball schedule during the entire 16-year Self era. It’s a strength of schedule ranked in the top 10 in the country in 15 of the past 16 seasons.
KU has been No. 1 or 2 in the country in strength of schedule six times in the Self era.
“Larry I never will be able to express how appreciative we are of everything you’ve done behind the scenes for Kansas basketball,” Self told Keating at the banquet.
Perry Ellis to play for alumni team
Former KU basketball forward Perry Ellis will be playing for the Jayhawks’ alumni team in the single-elimination “The Basketball Tournament,” which opens July 25-28 at Koch Arena in Wichita. Ellis made the announcement Tuesday on Twitter (@SelfMadeTBT). Winner of the eight-team Wichita event (KU, Kansas State, Wichita State alumni teams plus five others) will advance to the finals Aug. 1-6 in Chicago. Elijah Johnson is the KU team’s general manager and also will play for the squad, which goes by the name “Self Made.”
Ellis currently plays pro basketball for a team in Istanbul, Turkey.
Holyfield sets KU visit
T.J. Holyfield, a 6-foot-8 graduate transfer from Stephen F. Austin, will visit KU on Monday, he confirmed in a message to The Star on Tuesday. Holyfield, who is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, has a list of KU, Illinois, Texas Tech, Miami and Oregon. Holyfield missed all of last season because of a dislocated shoulder after averaging 12.9 points (on 54.8 percent shooting, 28 of 68 from three, 41.2 percent) and 6.4 rebounds a game during the 2016-17 campaign.
Graham camp details
Former KU guard Devonté Graham of the Charlotte Hornets will hold a basketball camp for boys and girls grades 1 through 12 from 2 to 5 p.m. on May 11 at Tonganoxie High School. One can register at DevonteGrahamcamp.com.