Obviously, that remains to be seen, but according to Lawrence Journal World sports editor and columnist Tom Keegan the table is set for Self’s KU basketball team to to go – you know – all-the-way in 2016.
Or something like that.
In his column, “Kansas Hoops Could be Killer by ’15,” Keegan sketches out a scenario in which, “the hidden beauty of Bill Self’s latest blockbuster recruiting class, separates it from most elite ones…It’s conceivable that every key Kansas player from the 2014-2015 season could return the following season…”
“Cliff Alexander, ranked No. 4 by Rivals.com in the Class of 2014, is on record saying he doesn’t view himself as a one-and-done college basketball player. At 6-foot-8, he’s shorter than most NBA power forwards, so he’ll need the time to figure out how to score against longer defenders, just as Thomas Robinson did.
“Kelly Oubre, No. 6 in the class, has an explosive game but could stand to fill out, so he’s not necessarily a one-and-done recruit.
Point guard Devonté Graham, ranked No. 36, projects as a four-year player, as do most who play his position.
“The NBA’s age restrictions deny Ukranian sensation Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk from eligibility in the 2015 draft. Sure, he could decide to play professionally in Europe after one year at Kansas, but it’s more likely he’ll be having such a blast he’ll want to stay at KU for at least two years. Plus, a loud sophomore season could mean more to him long-term financially in terms of a shoe contract than a European contract anyway.”
Add to that a cast of strong support players, that includes two additional point guards, two wings and six post players and “Nobody needs to look that far ahead to project KU winning another Big 12 title,” Keegan writes. “The Jayhawks are favored to make it 11 in a row, but could develop into an unstoppable force the following year.”
Raising the obvious question of whether Self’s recruiting masterpiece this year, combined with his young-but-still advancing age (52), and another Final Four and/or National Championship might pave the way for him to escape the fishbowl of tiny Lawrence, Kansas and take his game to the obvious next level.
Face it, with Self’s penchant for really nice hairpieces, Botox and an ultra extravagant, expensive clothes and lifestyle, he’s no Norm Stewart. And just as he broke the hearts of an all-star collection of young recruits at Illinois to do the unthinkable and leave for KU 10 years ago, he’s obviously inclined to do what’s best for Bill Self.
That’s not so much a criticism of Self as what may be a reasonably good guess as to what direction the driven, ambitious, relatively young coach might take. After all, with the one-and-done nature of college basketball today, coaching in the college ranks is almost like coaching a rookie or minor league NBA team.
Why not take it to the next level and go for an even bigger paycheck and a lifestyle that transcends the small town living that Lawrence affords?
After all, how many times can one eat at 715 and hang out in the bar at Salty Iguana anyway?