Jayhawks talk 2018-19 at annual media day

LAWRENCE, Kan. – With the start of the regular-season less than a month away, the Kansas men’s basketball team hosted its annual media day Wednesday afternoon inside Allen Fieldhouse to discuss the highly-anticipated 2018-19 campaign.

KU student-athletes gathered for photos with local and regional websites, magazines and newspapers before writers and videographers interviewed the 15-man squad on the floor of Allen Fieldhouse. Entering his 16th season at Kansas, head coach Bill Self then previewed the team and the 2018-19 season with the media in the Allen Fieldhouse Media Room.

Preseason top-5 in most publications, Kansas returns two starters and six letterwinners from last season’s 31-8 team which advanced to the program’s 15th Final Four, claimed its 11th Big 12 Tournament championship and won an NCAA-record 14th-straight regular-season conference title. KU opens exhibition play when it meets the Emporia State Hornets on Thursday, Oct. 25 inside Allen Fieldhouse.
A video of Bill Self’s press conference can be seen at KUAthletics.com and a transcript is below.

On Kansas’ front line depth:
“We have been ridiculously thin the last two years but the players we had playing were really good, but this year we’re different. Our offense doesn’t look very good. Right now, we’re trying to figure out the easiest way to score, so we have to score different ways. We do have bodies and foul problems shouldn’t be an issue like it has been in recent years. It allows us to be more aggressive defensively defending in the post and around the rim.”
On what he thinks the KU rotation will look like:
“I hadn’t thought about a rotation yet. We don’t even know how you play 12. Do you try and play 10 and redshirt a couple, play 11 and redshirt one, play 12 and redshirt none? I do think our players that are young are good enough that if they’re playing five or seven minutes a game they will be better tat age 23 than 18. We haven’t got that far yet. We could play long or two little guards at the same time. I think it’s too early to tell.”
On Dedric Lawson’s defensive abilities:
“I’d say fine. He’s not a jet quick explosive athlete, but he’s a terrific athlete. His first step is very effective. He’s a great shot blocker. What Dedric’s going to have to do is play everywhere. There’s times where he can be our best point guard and our best low post scorer, so we have to move him around and come up with some creative ways to do that.”
On who he thinks will be able to play off script this season:
“I think Dedric as much as anybody. We have guys who can play off script but if you watched us play much lately, there hasn’t been much of a script. Do we make plays as well as Devonte did last year? Nobody does in the gym like that. Malik wasn’t really a playmaker for others and Svi (Mykhailiuk) wasn’t. Lagerald (Vick) was probably the second best playmaker we had for others and we have him this year. One thing about it is, when you can really stretch it, people have to really guard you and we have to get more consistent shooting the ball.”
On David McCormack’s maturity level:
“I think he’s beyond his years on the court and off the court too. I think David will help us this year. He is a true five man right now. He’s not going to beat Udoka (Azubuike) out, but he will be a great defender.”
On the team’s chemistry so far:
“We’ve had some times where we look really fluid together and there’s times we don’t. We haven’t had many bad days, but our bad days can become awful days because maybe the chemistry or leadership isn’t quite there yet. You notice leaders more when times are tough.”
On Silvio de Sousa:
“I can tell you he’s done a great job at getting better. His attitude is unreal and is very positive. From all of our standpoints, he’s playing with a totally clear conscience. He’s handled this very positively and made him grow up and mature.”
On De Sousa’s progression:
“Does he look bigger to you guys? I think he just looks like a man. There’s a maturity about him that’s a little different that will allow him to play stronger. The way he played in the Big 12 tournament, getting 16 (points) and 8 (rebounds) against West Virginia and 4 and 10 against Duke in limited minutes, those games gave him confidence.”

On what you want to see from Quentin Grimes, especially early in the year, as far as getting his feet down under him:
“After being around Quentin for 17 days in the summer and then having him here this fall, the thing that I would say about him is that he has a tendency to not engage himself into all of the possessions like he is capable of. There was a guy named (Andrew) Wiggins that played here that we kind of thought the same thing (of) sometimes. I’m not in any way, shape, or form comparing Quentin to Wiggins athletically, or anything like that, but I am kind of comparing how I wish he had more of that assassin, that attack mode. I think that he will get (that) as he gets more confident. We believe that he has got it inside of him already, but I just don’t think he is quite confident yet to really display that.”
On how in the past few years you’ve had experienced players like Frank Mason II and Devonte’ Graham and now you’ve got some new guys, in Devon and Quentin. Are they going to have to learn on the job, to open fire early?:
“Yeah, I think so. Whether it be Devon, or Charlie (Moore), or Quentin, those guys are going to have to learn on the fly. Which isn’t bad, the only thing that is potentially negative about that is that our schedule is so hard early. The team that we put on the court in early November won’t be the team that we put on the court in February, I am confident about that. I do think the schedule is so hard and obviously those things add up like the rest of them do, as far ranking and seeding. We’ll be a much better team by league play, I would think, just because of that reason you said.”
On if Charlie Moore has emerged as a true point guard:
“He is a combo. We have actually made a living off of combo guards. Devonte’ (Graham) was a combo, Frank (Mason III) was a combo, Mario (Chalmers) was a combo. We have had a couple of true points here; I thought Tyshawn (Taylor) for the most part was and Aaron Miles was one, but when you talk about (a) true point, I don’t know that we have one in our program. Devon has the most potential to become that and he will. Charlie can play point and play it very well, but Charlie’s mindset is to shoot the ball and score, which is a little bit different than what you would equate to a true point.”
On if he sees senior G Lagerald Vick soaking in the atmosphere and position he’s in, like Frank did toward the end of his senior year and Devonte’ did it from minute one last year, his own senior season:
“I think it would be a little premature to say to that extent do I see it. I don’t think he like soaked up boot camp or was soaking up three hours practices but I do think that once we start playing games, that will be the case and he has been a 10 so far, there is no question about that. I don’t even know when you guys visited with him, to me he seems more engaging, he is more talkative, and seems to be happy where he is. We’re certainly pleased with him.”
As opposed to some other Blue Blood, powerhouse (men’s basketball) programs, Kansas has gone off the script a little bit in finding some guys late in the (recruiting) process, like Frank and Devonte’. What do you attribute that to? Is it just keeping an open eye through the recruiting process or is it having the confidence to say ‘This is what we see’ as opposed to what other people think:
“I think it’s a combination of everything. I think some of it is luck and anyone who says recruiting isn’t part luck, they’re lying. I think some of it is that we didn’t get who we thought we really wanted, so we had to adjust. I also think some of it is that we’ve been so fortunate to recruit really good athletes and players whose intangibles have probably not rated nationally as high as what they should be. Who would’ve thought that Frank be National Player of the Year? Or Devonte’ a First Team All-American? There is nobody that would’ve predicted these things. There’s been a lot of guys who we missed on, for whatever reason, or they obviously didn’t choose us, that we thought, ‘Wow we really needed him’ and then this guy turned out to be twice the player that that guy was. I think my staff does a really good job at evaluating and projecting; but also, let’s be honest, some of it is luck too.”
On if the same goes for shooting? Because you’ve had some guys who have been evaluated as non-shooters or who have developed into shooters while they’ve been here, whether it’s Frank or some of those others guys:
“I think it’s hard to be a great player at a high level unless you can score the ball and shoot the ball. I would rather recruit a shooter than a scorer, to be honest with you. You can kind of teach a shooter how to score, but sometimes it’s hard to teach a scorer how to shoot. I do think that my assistants do a great job with our guys in that area, as far as shooting the ball. And I do feel like that when they play here, they have confidence to make shots because, in large part, that’s not something that we emphasize. I firmly believe it’s a good or a bad shot when it leaves your hand, not when it goes in or not. If you have that mindset, you should always be somewhat confident. We know you have to make shots to win games; certainly, to win big games, but I don’t want those guys to have the pressure (on them) that you have to shoot well to play well.”
On if it seems like Devon and Quentin are being mentioned in ways that Frank and Devonte’ weren’t. And on if it’s different coaching guys like that, with a pedigree, when what people think of them is maybe a little bit higher coming in:
“No. To me, it’s not. It wouldn’t make any difference if it’s Josh (Jackson) or (Wayne) Selden (Jr.) or (Kelly) Oubre (Jr.) or Quentin or Frank or Devonte’. (With) Highly unrated guys, I think you coach them all the same way. I think sometimes with unrated guys, they come in, they don’t feel the excess pressure, maybe, to perform well early in their careers. They can kind of grow into it whereas guys that are McDonald’s All-Americans, they’re kind of expected to have success right off the bat. We’ve seen with guys who have played here that’s not always the case. Both those guys (Devon and Quentin) have been very coachable and they’re going to get it. I hope they get it sooner rather than later because their talent will prevail over time. Right now they’re thinking, and when you think, you can’t play to your ability.”
On freshman G Ochai Agbaji:
“You asked the question about recruiting earlier, that’s one of the ones (Ochai) that was luck that we got. We didn’t recruit Ochai hard, (assistant coach) Norm (Roberts) thought he could play well enough that I should go watch him. I went to watch him, and I go, ‘I think he’s better than who we’re recruiting.’ Then when you get to know him and you study him; you get to see length, explosiveness, attitude and toughness. You also see that his sister (Orie Agbaji, junior MB) plays volleyball at Texas. It’s a very athletic family. Both parents played (collegiate basketball). You start thinking that this kid has got some things, some intangibles. I don’t want to make any predictions too bold, but he is going to be a guy who is going to start a lot of games, play a lot of minutes and score a lot of points while he is here. It just may not happen immediately for him because we have depth. He was ranked No. 337 when he committed to us and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t pan out to be one of the best 30-40 players in this class.”
On how many times he saw Agbaji play before he knew:
“Once. He looked really good that game, he made shots that day.”
On the team seems to have a lot of maturity, a lot of polished people, in terms of interacting with other people:
“Our freshman class, I think, is probably the highest basketball IQ for an entire class that we have had for a while. I do think that as far as interaction with others (goes) and communication, I do think it’s a pretty good class. I really do. If you guys remember, when Frank first got here, we couldn’t get him to talk. Of course, by the time he left here, we barely got him to talk. But Devonte’ was one of those guys who just had it from the first day he walked on campus from the communications standpoint. I do think Ochai and David (McCormack) are in that same boat.”





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