Waco, Texas Kansas and Baylor — two of three schools that, along with Missouri, headed into the week with a share of first place in the Big 12 basketball standings — illustrate that not all programs in the top 10 in the national rankings take the same path.
KU coach Bill Self’s way has worked better and for longer than BU coach Scott Drew’s, but it’s difficult to argue with Drew’s method at the moment since his team, which features McDonald’s All-Americans Perry Jones III, Quincy Miller and several other serious talents, is ranked sixth in the country.
Self, coaching without a McDonald’s All-American on the roster for the first time since his 1999-2000 Tulsa squad, has power forward Thomas Robinson, a national player of the year candidate, and point guard Tyshawn Taylor, a first-team All-Big 12 contender, three juniors with pretty good talent, and sixth and seventh men recruited to KU as walk-ons. The Jayhawks are ranked seventh in the nation.
In recent years, Drew has hit more recruiting grand slams than Self, who wins more than Drew.
Based on how it looks from the outside, Drew must promise starting assignments to top recruits. Self makes his players earn spots, the best means of getting them to do what he wants. It’s not what a coach wants his players to do that separates coaches. It’s getting all five players on the court to do what he wants them to do that makes a coach stand above peers.
The best means of achieving that is to ride players and withhold playing time until they stop fighting the coach and play intensely and unselfishly. Once Marcus and Markieff Morris understood doing it the coach’s way was the only way, they shot up the draft boards and became lottery picks.
Given the comparative traditions — Clyde Lovellette, Wilt Chamberlain, Jo Jo White, Danny Manning, Paul Pierce, James Naismith, Phog Allen, Larry Brown, Roy Williams and Self for Kansas; Terry Teagle for Baylor — Self has a recruiting advantage enhanced when figuring in the home-court atmospheres.
A Tuesday night Google of “Baylor basketball tradition” showed three results, compared to “about 23,600” for “Kansas basketball tradition.”
Drew closes that gap by exploiting the instant-gratification society in which we live.
If self-improvement and a long and lucrative pro career are the motivating factors in a high school superstar’s decision, Self has more to sell.
Coming out of high school in 2010, Jones (ranked ninth by Rivals) already had been branded a potential No. 1 overall pick. Robinson, ranked 31st in his class, was considered a “maybe” as an NBA prospect. Most draft projections now have the shorter Robinson, who has learned more in his basketball education, listed ahead of Jones.