A year ago, Bill Self sat inside Kauffman Stadium on a Wednesday afternoon as the Royals clinched their first American League pennant in 29 years. This week, as the Royals face the Houston Astros in an American League Division Series, Self was hoping to drop in on another playoff series in Kansas City. His recruiting schedule got in the way.
At 6:30 Friday night, Self and the Kansas men’s basketball program will officially christen the 2015-16 season at Late Night in the Phog, the annual October party that is part scrimmage and part recruiting blitz. Self said the first wave of recruits were set to arrive on Thursday evening, so he’ll be slightly preoccupied during Games 1 and 2 of the ALDS. But he was pleased with one thing: The Royals will face the Astros on Friday afternoon, leaving plenty of time for KU fans to get to Allen Fieldhouse for the 31st annual Late Night festivities.
“We actually caught a break by Friday being an afternoon game,” Self said. “So at least if the people are going to watch the game and not attend (Kauffman Stadium), they’ve got plenty of time to get to our place for Late Night.”
Then came a request: “Go to the bar and watch our Royals and then drive on over to see us play,” Self said smiling.
There is plenty of reason for Self to be excited. The Jayhawks bring back a roster with plenty of veterans, including returning starters Frank Mason, Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis. Kansas fans will also get their first looks at freshmen forwards Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg and wing Lagerald Vick inside Allen Fieldhouse. (Diallo, who hasn’t been been cleared by the NCAA, will be able to take part in Late Night.)
But for Self and his staff, the primary task will be entertaining a group of top recruits, including a slew of five-star prospects in the 2015 recruiting class.
“I’m sure we’ll have a recruit in the audience,” Self said coyly this week. “It’s a fun night for them to get a feel (for) what Kansas basketball can actually be like.”
The list of recruits expected to be Allen Fieldhouse includes North Carolina power forward Harry Giles, who is rated as Rivals’ No. 2 overall recruit in the 2015 class, and Texas big man Marques Bolden, who is Rivals’ No. 16 overall prospect. Giles and Bolden are both considering Duke and Kentucky on their short list of schools.
Among the other recruits visiting KU this week: Shooting guard Malik Monk of Bentonville, Ark. (No. 6 in Rivals’ rankings); point guard De’Aaron Fox of Katy, Texas (No. 5); and center Schnider Herard of Plano, Texas (No. 34).
The Jayhawks are also set to host a list of unofficial visitors, including local standouts Mitchell Ballock, a junior guard at Eudora High; Bol Bol, a sophomore center at Bishop Miege; and Michael Porter Jr., a junior forward at Tolton Catholic in Columbia.
KU officials also believe they have rectified logistical issues from past years. KU students will be able to enter Allen Fieldhouse at 4:30 p.m., while the doors will open for the general public at 5 p.m. Self believes that will relieve any issues of crowd control and line-cutting.
“I would appeal to everyone just to say don’t assume that you can’t get in,” Self said. “Assume that you can and you will because you will be able to, and it should be a very fun night.”