Saturday, August 20, 2016

Bill Self gives unexpected answer for favorite athlete of all-time at KU’s Traditions Night

Blue Team guard Josh Jackson comes in for a dunk.

Blue Team guard Josh Jackson comes in for a dunk.


Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self on Saturday night joined KU counterparts David Beaty and Ray Bechard in front of a throng of KU students at Memorial Stadium.

The trio was there as a part of KU’s annual Traditions Night, where new students learn about everything from the Rock Chalk Chant and clapping to the school fight song to the history of Kansas athletics and the names of some of KU’s all-time greats.

On Saturday, though, the students learned a little more than they may have expected. During a series of rapid-fire questions asked to all three coaches that covered everything from favorite comfort food and favorite television show, the coaches were asked to name the greatest athlete of all-time.

Bechard went first, and after rattling off a few former KU greats, settled on boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Beaty was up next and did not hesitate to say Michael Jordan. That left Self to finish the question and boy did he.

After pausing to think, Self finally fired off his answer.

“I gotta be different,” he joked, cocking his head back for emphasis. “I’ll say Josh Jackson.”

Jackson, of course, is KU’s latest freshman phenom, and although Self’s ear-to-ear grin seemed to indicate that the answer was purely for show, there’s no doubt that the 6-foot-8 forward who already is projected to be a Top 5 pick in next year’s NBA Draft will soon be a fan favorite, even if he falls short of landing on anyone’s all-time favorite list.

While several Jayhawks already are back on campus in preparation for Monday’s first day of the fall semester — including Devonte’ Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk and Lagerald Vick, who all attended Saturday’s KU volleyball scrimmage — Self said he expected the entire roster to be in Lawrence by about 4 p.m. Sunday.

Fireballin’ Frank

Sunday is KU Day at The K and Self and several assistant coaches and players will make the trip to Kauffman Stadium to watch the Royals take on the Minnesota Twins.

Senior point guard Frank Mason III is scheduled to throw out the first pitch and Self said he had no idea how that would go but shared an idea of what he’d like to see.

“I don’t know if Frank’s ever thrown a baseball,” Self said. “I don’t think he’s ever played before, so I kind of hope he throws it against the backstop. I think that would be pretty funny.”

Late Night notes

Self also encouraged everyone in attendance at Traditions Night to show up for Late Night in the Phog on Oct. 1.

“We could fill up Allen Fieldhouse with this crowd,” Self said.

If that were to happen, two attendees could wind up cashing in. Self said after addressing the crowd that for the second year in a row one female and one male fan will have the opportunity to win $10,000 by making a half-court shot during the Late Night festivities. A year ago, director of operations Brennan Bechard drained a half-court shot to win the money for one lucky fan. Self wrote the young man a check on the spot and both the fan and the Jayhawks went wild.

“I’m gonna talk to Bechard before he shoots it (this year),” Self joked. “That was fun.”

In addition to the return of the shoot for the cash promotion, Self revealed that KU would host a three-on-three tournament the day of Late Night. Proceeds from the event will go to Coaches vs. Cancer. Teams can register online at and the $25 fee per team includes entry, a T-Shirt and a reserved seat at Late Night for each team member.

Svi ready to roll

After spending a good chunk of the summer playing with the Ukrainian team at the Under 20 European Championships in Finland, KU junior Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is back in the states and eager to get his third season as a Jayhawk under way.

“I’m excited to get him back,” Self said of Svi. “He looks good. He may have got a little heavy last year, but he’s slimmed up a little bit and he told me (Friday) this is the most explosive he’s felt in a long time.”

Self said the experience of playing competitive ball all summer could help the junior guard in his quest to take the next step for the Jayhawks. Svi led his country with a 14.9-point average in seven games and also averaged 5.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.1 steals and 4.7 turnovers.

“Svi had a good summer,” Self said. “But he didn’t shoot it well, like he’s capable of shooting.”


Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 6 months ago

No Wilt or Danny Manning's? My personal favorite Jayhawk (1) John 'The Diesel' Riggins (2) D.Manning.

Humpy Helsel 3 years, 6 months ago

For me personally, it is hard to direct much criticism toward Bill Self. I love the guy. And while I know it was in jest, I can't help but wonder what the other players think when he says something like that about a freshman who has never played in a game. Athletes have enormous amounts of pride and I can't help but think such a comment from their coach might get under their skin a bit.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 6 months ago

While we may not have seen Josh play in a game, his teammates that you are worried about have all played with and against, plus lived with him for 3 months so they are fully aware of his capabilities and personality. All indications are that he is not ego-centric, and fully embraces the blue-collar D-minded approach Coach has always pushed to instill in the program. Oh, and a great talent too. They've also been around Coach a whole lot more than us, and likely appreciate even more than us Coach's sense of humor and motivation. I'd bet they are ALL laughing about it, and if anything using it for trash-talking.

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 6 months ago

They know he was "Joshing". My guess is they catch the humor as much as anyone.

John Randall 3 years, 6 months ago

Am I the only one who doesn't think this answer can't be taken seriously?

HCBS lives in the here and now, so Josh has Bill's full attention NOW as the opportunity integrate another great talent into an already exemplary team and maximize all the potential on hand THIS YEAR!

Mick Allen 3 years, 6 months ago

I didn't take it seriously either John.

Brian Leiker 3 years, 6 months ago

Crazy how Bo Jackson is left off this list more times than not.

Brian Wilson 3 years, 6 months ago

Not to mention Wilt Chamberlain. Wilt was playing competitive pro-volley ball past the age of 50. And when it came time to pick the so call "Dream Team", Wilt was ticked that he wasn't invited. You may laugh but it was that year that there were no tryouts and they just invited all the best Pro's to play with Michael Jordan. Wilt admitted he couldn't start and play the whole game, but he was confident he could play backup as well as anyone despite his age and that he could give 10 minutes a half just as good as anyone. He was a natural born athlete just like Bo, and there are many people that met him that commented on him being the greatest athlete they ever met.

Joshua Hann 3 years, 6 months ago

My Grandfather, RIP, was attending KU when Wilt was there. One of his favorite stories he told......One day he was walking across campus, middle of winter, with his head down. He ran into someone and looked up and saw someone's waist. He looked up, further, and it was Wilt. Wilt said "better watch where you are going there little guy".

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 6 months ago

Self was playing to the crowd, nothing more.

RJ King 3 years, 6 months ago

Self was obviously having fun.

But he missed a chance to recognize Haskell's own Jim Thorpe. Track & field, baseball, football, basketball . . . And who knows what else, had he more opportunity?

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