The Jayhawks preview the upcoming season at Big 12 Media Day
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas senior Lagerald Vick and juniors Udoka Azubuike and Dedric Lawson, along with KU head coach Bill Self spent a good part of Wednesday at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, at Big 12 Media Day.
Below is coach Self’s transcript from his 10 minutes on the dais.
THE MODERATOR: We now welcome coach Bill Self from Kansas. Coach, your thoughts about the upcoming season?
BILL SELF: I know you guys want to talk basketball with me, but before we can get to that I just want to let you know that due to the trial in New York being ongoing, I will refrain from any comment that is directly related to the trial, due to the fact that there has been a mandate given to me and certainly I will honor that. I will say in relationship to that, though, at 9:30, approximately, this morning, we issued a press release saying that we would hold Silvio De Sousa from competition based on recent developments within the trial in the last couple of weeks and we will wait for an eligibility review to be done jointly by our university and the NCAA, and the timetable on that is unknown due to obviously the ongoing trial and also when all parties can actually complete that review. So with that being said, I would be open to talk about our season. I know that I’m very excited obviously to get a chance to coach a bunch of talented guys that are pretty well thought of at least from a preseason expectation standpoint and probably deservedly so. We’ve got a lot more depth than what we’ve had in the past few years, certainly we’re much bigger, and we have some talented guards that are still freshmen. But they are talented and certainly with the three guys sitting out last year, I think that can kinda help fill the void of our lack of experience in the backcourt. It’s going to be an exciting year for our basketball team and our program, and certainly one that we’re very much looking forward to playing and competing in, in what will once again be as good of a league as we have in college basketball.
Q. Coach, regarding Silvio, is this something to do that came out in the trial, the possible professional Spanish contract or is this an NCAA thing with money that was spent? Can you tell us either way?
BILL SELF: I’m not going to go into details, but Silvio was declared eligible last year by the NCAA. So that should answer your question right there. So this was from recent developments that took place within the trial.
Q. Coach, you talked about how you were honored to be the number 1 again, but K-State is right there. Do you like the way 1-2 is for the state of Kansas in that preseason poll although it means nothing by the end of the year?
BILL SELF: You’re right, it means nothing. But I do think it speaks to the level of play that our state has, not only within our league, but nationally. And you could throw Wichita State in recent years when they have been picked so high in their respective league and had such great teams, but I think we have a chance to be pretty good. I know K-State has a chance to be very good, having had an opportunity to coach against those guys three times last year and certainly seeing their players develop within their program and the experience that they possess. I certainly can’t see a reason why they’re not only a Big 12 contender, they’re a national contender, also.
Q. I know what your answer is going to be but I have to ask it anyway. They extended the tournament here in Kansas City to 2024, it was announced today. Other teams talk about how it’s a great tournament, but there are sure a lot of fans for one team. Your thoughts on keeping it here in town and the women joining in?
BILL SELF: I don’t know all the details about anything other than what you just said about extending the contract through ’24. The only thing I can say is it’s my favorite neutral court that we’ve ever played on. So naturally K-State and ourselves can benefit from the crowd base because obviously more local, but props to Kansas City. They have made this event very important and part of the fabric of what Kansas City is doing through the sports commission and it is an important part of Kansas City and the things that go on within it. I think that Kansas City deserves a pat on the back for how important and how much they put into the tournament and getting it back again.
Q. Can you just tell us a little bit about how Dedric (Lawson) has developed in his year under you without playing and heading into his first real season at Kansas?
BILL SELF: I didn’t see him play a lot in high school. He was a highly-recruited youngster, but I didn’t see him play a lot. I saw him play some in his two years at Memphis. I talked to other coaches in the league about him, and that was the fact that they thought he was a ridiculously high IQ and skilled big guy and that the game was kind of in slow motion to him. After coaching him now for a little over a year, that is an accurate assessment. He’s gotten better. His body has improved. He’s actually more athletic, but the thing that separates him from most is his ability to see the game differently than the way most people see it. He doesn’t see one pass ahead, he sees two. He is the best passer we’ve had since I’ve been the coach at Kansas, so I’m really excited about that and I think that bodes well for the combination of him and Udoka (Azubuike) together, because Udoka is going to play closer to the basket when he’s in the game and Dedric can be as good as anybody we’ve had getting the ball to him, also.
Q. I’m curious about your thoughts as Dean Wade as a recruit and if you ever envisioned him getting to this level?
BILL SELF: You know, that’s a good question. We obviously knew of Dean. His high school coach works our basketball camp two weeks every summer for the last 20 years and certainly every year since I’ve been at KU. We knew he was well drilled and certainly a talent and I wouldn’t say that his success and his progress has surprised me at all. I would say that when you have a guy that is that size, that explosive, and can shoot, that tells me he’s got a chance, but obviously through development and they’ve done a great job with him, through development and through the opportunities that he’s had. He’s one of the premiere players, not just in our league, he’s one of the premiere players in the country.
Q. Going off of Jackson’s point about Dedric Lawson’s progression over the last year under you, it’s been widely discussed that it’s a fresh look to the roster so far this year, but do you think that it’s almost undervalued how the Lawsons and Charlie Moore were able to spend that year with you and while it’s a fresh look they have been around the locker room?
BILL SELF: That’s an advantage to take transfers and have them sit out a year. You knew you would have big turnover because now we’re playing with experienced guys instead of freshmen that we would have recruited for those spots, which are sophomores by now. They’re still young, and certainly Charlie, even though he played one year at Cal, he’s still young. KJ (Lawson) and Dedric (Lawson) a little older, but I think the reason for the optimism within our program as much as anything else is because of the unknown of the three guys that are sitting out. They’re nice players. They’re going to be good players, all those things, but we’re still a long ways away from being a team that can play to its ranking, trust me.
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