Kansas coach Bill Self has always been careful with the way he portrayed his interest in coaching at the NBA level.
It's intriguing, of course. It's the highest level, the best players in the world, another challenge. But his current job, Self says, is probably better than 90 percent of NBA jobs, anyway. The money isn’t a huge factor either; Self’s latest contract extension, unveiled last September, could pay him more than $52 million if he stays at KU through the 2021-22 season.
But what about the NBA side of things? How many teams would be interested in a coach who has spent his entire career - an extremely successful career, of course - in the college ranks? Would Self be an attractive candidate?
The answer, based on an anonymous survey conducted by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, appears to suggest the answer is a strong yes. In the wake of the Boston Celtics hiring Butler coach Brad Stevens, Goodman surveyed more than 50 NBA sources - front-office execs and coaches - and ranked his top five NBA candidates from the collegiate ranks, based on the coaches that stood out most.
Self came out of the process as the No. 1 name on the list, with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski at No. 2. Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, who was an executive for the Minnesota Timberwolves following a long NBA playing career, was ranked third. (We’ll stop there -the full list of coaches mentioned is behind ESPN’s Insider paywall.
“He’s an outstanding teacher, but not too much of a dictator that would turn guys off,” one source said of Self, according to Goodman. “He is strong enough and has the right kind of personality to get guys to buy in. He’s coached a ton of NBA picks - and has played pick and roll in his system.”
Self is entering his 11th season at Kansas, which will officially begin practice on Friday. The Jayhawks’ annual Late Night in the Phog event is Oct. 4, and they’ll begin their exhibition schedule on Oct. 29 against Pittsburg State.