Kansas basketball coach Bill Self on Wednesday spoke favorably about the new law in California that allows student-athletes in the state to profit on their name, likeness and image, calling the law “a very, very positive step” that puts the pay-for-play issue “on the front porch of everybody involved with the NCAA.”
One day after Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski backed the law at an ACC event, Self offered similarly strong support.
“I think it’s been long overdue to give student-athletes the same opportunities that general students possess," Self said. "I mean, there’s nothing that says that a general student can’t go to school and be on scholarship and go to work on the side. Legally where it ends up I have no idea. The one thing that I would hope that does happen, I hope it’s a uniform law and becomes a rule. I don’t believe California and New York or South Carolina can have it and other states can’t.”
Since California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law on the final day of September, several other states have made it known that they, too, were pursuing similar legislation.
KU Chancellor Douglas Girod on Tuesday spoke briefly to the Journal-World about the California law and said that legislation was rarely the best way to fix things.
“There are always significant unintended consequences that haven’t been thought through,” Girod told the Journal-World. “So we’ll have to think through all of that.”
Self on Wednesday said it would be “interesting” to see how it all plays out nationwide, with the California law not scheduled to go into effect until 2023.
“Pressure may not be the right word,” Self began. “But it certainly puts it in the NCAA’s court that we have to have the most serious of discussions to try to figure out what direction this needs to go.”
Self said Wednesday that senior grad transfer Isaiah Moss, who has been hindered by a pulled hamstring during the first few weeks of practice, is on the mend and should be back to 100% healthy “in a week or so.”
Although the injury has slowed Moss’ adjustment to his new surroundings, Self said the former Iowa guard’s track record was enough to convince him that KU’s newest weapon could play a significant role on this year’s team.
“I think he shot 41 or 42 from 3 at Iowa,” Self said. “So if that translates to 40% here, that’s something we desperately needed. I see him having a great opportunity to be in that starting role or playing starters minutes if he doesn’t start.”
Despite the injury, Moss said he already had learned a lot during his short time in Lawrence and has enjoyed every second of competing at a whole new level with all new teammates.
“I hold myself to a certain standard every time I step on the court,” Moss said Wednesday. “So of course I want to try to be the best in all areas. But I’m just working toward getting better every day.”
Just win, baby
Asked Wednesday about a preseason watch list that pegged him as the second best point guard in the nation behind Michigan State guard Cassius Winston, KU sophomore Devon Dotson laughed off his status and said team goals meant more to him than anything else.
“I can’t really get into all the rankings and everything,” Dotson said. “If that’s where others put me, then I can’t change their opinion. But my main focus is this team and looking to win. As long as we win, I’m happy.”
Winston and Dotson actually faced one another in Dotson’s college debut at last season’s Champions Classic in Indianapolis. Dotson got the better of Winston that night, hitting 6 of 11 shots for 16 points and the victory compared to a 3-of-11, 13-point night for his MSU counterpart.
The two could meet again this year if both teams advance to the finals of the Maui Invitational in November.
A happy man
Junior forward Silvio De Sousa was all smiles during his 15-minute session with the media on Wednesday, sighing and shrugging his shoulders constantly about finally being eligible to play again.
“I’m just super excited to get on the court with my teammates and do what we’re supposed to do,” De Sousa said.
Asked for his reaction to the outpouring of love he received at last week’s Late Night when he was introduced just prior to the Jayhawks’ scrimmage, De Sousa said he had to rewatch the moment on social media to get a true feel for how loud the roar from the crowd really was.
“Down here I don’t really hear everything as well as they hear it up there,” he said of being on the court. “I think it was good when I watched the video and I’m just excited for more days to come like that.”
Asked Wednesday during a mock interview conducted by teammate Chris Teahan what Kansas fans can expect from the 6-foot-9, 245-pound junior during the upcoming season, De Sousa again sat back and smiled before answering
“A lot of happiness, just exciting and a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s going to be fun and you guys are going to see a little bit of everything from me. It’s going to be good. I promise you that.”
High flying fun
After struggling to get much of anything above the rim last season after KU center Udoka Azubuike went down with an injury, the Jayhawks are expecting the dunk to become a big part of their offense again during the 2019-20 season.
Asked Wednesday if he thought the guards would be able to throw lobs whenever they wanted, De Sousa smiled and matter-of-factly stated the obvious.
“They should,” he said. “I mean, they have to. We have like four big guys on the team and you can just throw the ball up and they’ll go get it.”
It’s not just the big men who figure to feast on the opportunities at the rim this season. Newcomers Jalen Wilson, Christian Braun and Tristan Enaruna all have shown an ability to finish high above the rim during the preseason, and sophomore guard Ochai Agbaji, who provided most of KU’s rare above-the-rim highlights during the second half of last season, also returns in a bigger, stronger, more explosive frame.
“The athleticism, speed, we can get out and run with multiple different lineups and I feel like we’re very versatile for sure,” said Dotson.
Welcome back, Perry
Participating in his fifth media day all time but the first as a member of the KU staff, former Jayhawk great Perry Ellis was back in the building on Wednesday, wearing a suit and sitting in the front row for the team picture instead of standing in the back.
Ellis, who suffered a season-ending knee injury while playing for the Self Made team in the TBT this summer, immediately made contact with the staff about returning to Lawrence for the 2019-20 season to join the staff.
"It stinks for Perry," Self said. "Because obviously we wish he was in Japan making money doing all that stuff like he was scheduled to be. (But) it took no time (to say) we've got to get him back with the program. He's working with our guys in video. He’ll be good at that and that will prep him for after basketball. I love having him around."
Ellis started 109 of 144 games played for the Jayhawks and ranks No. 9 on KU's career scoring list with 1,798 points. He also is 12th in rebounds, with 834, and 13th in career double-doubles with 16.
Ellis was a two-time All-Big 12 First Team his junior and senior seasons and led the Jayhawks in scoring both years, averaging 16.9 points per game in 2015-16 and 13.8 in 2014-15.
"When he played here, he’d get the quietest 18-20 (points) every night," Self recalled Wednesday. "People forget he's the ninth leading scorer in the history of school. He had an unbelievable career. He represented us so well, academically and in every way shape or form. Having him back, he’ll be a good role model for our young guys."
Big 12 reps
The Big 12 Conference on Wednesday announced the attendees for its upcoming conference media day, scheduled for Oct. 23 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
Kansas is one of three teams sending three players, while the rest are sending four or five each, with the exception of TCU, which will send just two.
Joining Self at the annual event slated for the day before KU’s exhibition opener will be senior center Udoka Azubuike and sophomore guards Ochai Agbaji and Devon Dotson.
The Kansas basketball program will be hosting walk-on tryouts at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.
Any prospective walk-ons will need to complete a series of requirements before attending the tryout. That includes a signature from KU staff members Brennan Bechard or Fred Quartlebaum, an academic sign-off from Vince McKamie and an updated physical exam form dated later than Nov. 1, 2018.
All forms and information must be turned in to the KU compliance office by 4:30 p.m. Friday in order to be eligible for the tryout.
For more information, contact the basketball office at 785-864-3056.