Before Julian DeBose boarded a plane for Kansas, his current college coach — former KU assistant Joe Dooley — offered the following warning.
“You think I’m a problem? Wait until you meet Bill Self,” Dooley said.
That exchange came at some point between midnight Thursday and 10 a.m. Saturday, a 34-hour maelstrom that resulted in DeBose, a senior guard at Florida Gulf Coast, leaving a quiet offseason behind and joining Kansas’ roster as it prepares for the World University Games in South Korea.
The particulars, according to those involved, went like this: Late Thursday night, Kansas coach Bill Self learned that sophomore guard Devonte’ Graham had suffered a partially torn quadriceps tendon and would be out for close to a month. That night, Self phoned Dooley, who previously had stumped for DeBose’s inclusion on the roster when Self needed an extra guard. (That spot went to SMU guard Nic Moore.) By close to midnight Thursday, Dooley was calling DeBose with an urgent message.
“Do you still want to go down to Kansas?” DeBose remembers Dooley saying.
DeBose needed no time to think it over. Of course.
“The next day he texted me, ‘It looks like it’s a go,’” DeBose said.
From there, DeBose heard from Fred Quartlebaum, a KU staffer who will serve as an assistant during the World University Games. Quartlebaum booked a flight, and by 10 a.m. on Saturday, DeBose was flying to Lawrence.
“It’s an amazing experience, of course,” DeBose said on Sunday. “I’ve never been to Kansas. I’ve never been or seen a locker room like this, or seen any facilities like this. I’m just glad and blessed and completely thankful to Coach Dooley and Coach Self to allow me to be on the team.”
For DeBose, the transition period will be brief. His role, for the moment, in unclear, but he probably will play. With just four other healthy scholarship guards on the roster, he will have to play.
“I’m a versatile player,” DeBose said.
After three days in Kansas, DeBose will take part in the Jayhawks’ exhibition game against Team Canada at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Sprint Center. Then comes another exhibition game on Friday. And on June 28 — less than 10 days after receiving a late-night call from Dooley — DeBose will board another plane bound for South Korea.
“I expect to come in, work hard and win a medal,” DeBose said. “That’s my expectations — win a gold medal.”