Bill Self approached a group of reporters Monday afternoon at his Kansas basketball camp with something other than hoops on his mind.
“Let’s talk golf!” Self, KU’s 17th-year coach, said enthusiastically.
He was still thinking about KU graduate Gary Woodland’s three-shot victory over Brooks Koepka at the U.S. Open, which was completed Sunday night.
“I texted with him. He said we’d have drinks soon,” Self said with a smile. “I said, ‘You are not going to have to buy one for several months,’ which is true. He shouldn’t have to buy one for a long time.
“I think this is one of the coolest things that’s happened to Kansas athletics,” Self added, “because golf is a sport all alumni and donors can identify with because everybody at some point in time has played it or hopes to play it and they can play it until they are 70, 75 years old. I think everybody is really proud because they can identify with what he does.”
Self was impressed with the Topeka native’s steady performance. Woodland became the fifth golfer in history to shoot under 70 in all four rounds at the Open.
“I didn’t miss a shot (of Woodland playing Sunday). Don’t tell the campers that or the parents. I did not miss one shot yesterday or the day before or the day before,” Self said, smiling. “It was great. I was nervous like a lot of people were watching it because you’ve got that dude (Koepka who won last two Opens) chasing you down and he’s on fire. You’ve got to really man up. He (Woodland) did no question.”
Self said he’s played “just a couple” of rounds of golf with Woodland.
“First time I played with him we were playing No. 1 at LCC (Lawrence Country Club). It’s a 365-yard hole. He landed on the green and made a 20-footer for 2. I’m thinking he played that like a par-3 (course). He has a different gear nobody else can get to,” Self said.
Self praises McCormack, Wilson
Self said sophomore forward David McCormack has looked great in KU summer workouts.
“The best, most improved guy on our team hands down,” Self said of McCormack, 6-10, 265 out of Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia. “His athletic ability has improved. I know that’s not easy to do in a short amount of time but he’s much more explosive and his shooting ability has really improved. He’s a guy that can make a 17-footer. He’s our best big shooter without question right now unless you include Jalen (Wilson, 6-8 freshman from Denton, Texas who arrived on campus over the weekend).”
Self said Wilson had a great first workout with KU’s team.
“He gives us size. He gives us toughness. He gives us skill,” Self said of Wilson. “He knows how to play. He’s a winner. I think his ability to shoot the ball is probably as good or close to as good as anybody on our team. He’s a tough kid. He likes the competitiveness of it. You can tell he likes it.”
Too early to talk redshirts
Self, who has 12 scholarship players available on the 2019-20 roster, said it’s possible some players could redshirt.
“Possibly. I don’t know what we’ll do if anything with that,” he said. “I think this is going to be a good group (of incoming freshmen). I do. I think they’ve got a chance to have maybe a pro or two in the group (of Wilson, Tristan Enaruna, Christian Braun and Issac McBride).”
Senior forward Mitch Lightfoot said Monday he could conceivably consider redshirting.
“I mean yeah I think I would (consider the option). That’s a decision we haven’t made yet. It’s something we can think about. But at this point in time, not really,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot visits Israel
Lightfoot recently played a handful of games in Israel with an Athletes in Action team. Former KU forward Wayne Simien was an assistant coach for the squad.
“We visited a bunch of Biblical sites,” Lightfoot said. “That was really cool. I’m really close to Wayne back here in Lawrence. To get a chance to travel with him, that’s pretty cool. Getting to play with new players, to experience a different style of basketball … how they play over there is different from here. It was something special.”
Lightfoot added: “For us it was more spiritual than about the basketball side of it. Getting to further my faith, connecting stories to actual places. I got to go see Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane. Getting to connect my faith to tangible sites was cool.”
Lightfoot’s young brother, Miles, played on the Athletes in Action team as did Devonte Bandoo and Mark Vital of Baylor and Mitch Ballock of Creighton, who is a graduate of Eudora High.
Strong finish in recruiting
Self at KU’s hoops banquet in April said the program needed to hit “a double” in recruiting. Now that he has re-stocked the roster with 12 scholarship players, he stated: “I think we probably did better than that. At the banquet we didn’t know about Silvio (De Sousa becoming eligible). We didn’t know about Doke (Azubuike) and Devon (Dotson electing to return to school) for sure. Then of course we didn’t have any clue about Isaiah (Moss) or Jalen (Wilson, late signees) at that time. To be able to get the experience and size and need for shooters … I think that’s about as good as we can do.”
Self on last week’s NCAA ‘news’
Self was asked if he had “any reaction to NCAA news from last week.”
This was in reference to Stan Wilcox, NCAA vice president of regulatory affairs, telling CBSSports.com that six schools will receive a Notice of Allegations for Level 1 violations this summer. Two schools would receive notices in July, the other four later this summer. Wilcox did not mention names of schools.
“There was actually no NCAA news last week based on what I read,” Self said, “except obviously a spokesperson spoke about what he thought was going to happen. I was shocked to read something that something could be said that was not specifically intended for anyone, but it made all 20 schools that were mentioned in the FBI deal and their families feel like it was.”
Some 20 schools were mentioned during the course of the FBI investigation into college basketball. The investigation found in part Adidas officials funneled money to the guardians of top basketball recruits to steer them toward programs sponsored by Adidas.
“No, I’ve got no comment on it,” Self added, “because only he (Wilcox) knows what exactly he meant by what he said except the fact that he said schools would definitely be served this summer, which I guess that could be very well true.
“I think to predetermine what’s going to happen before investigations are done, I think that comes pretty strong. I have no knowledge of who he was talking about or anything like that but certainly the fanbases of all the people that were mentioned I’m sure are very interested in what he meant by that,”