Kansas basketball coach Bill Self arrived in Springfield, Mass., and kicked off his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame events Thursday.
Self received his Hall of Fame jacket, which is made of a color described as "Naismith Orange," and gave brief remarks about starting his enshrinement week alongside several new Hall of Famers.
"When we all found out, I think, in April, I think we were all pretty overwhelmed with this. But this really hasn't hit me until we actually got to Springfield. Being in this arena, looking around, and seeing all the portraits is something that is very humbling and I certainly feel inadequate to be before you this afternoon."
— KUSports.com's Matt Tait and Nick Krug are in Springfield to provide all kinds of coverage of Self's enshrinement week, so stay tuned to KUsports.com for more stories, videos and more.
A first-time member of the Hall of Fame ballot, Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self received plenty of support leading up to Saturday’s announcement that he was a part of the 2017 Hall of Fame class.
Many opposing coaches throughout the season expressed their appreciation for Self’s accomplishments, which includes 13 straight Big 12 titles, seven trips to the Elite Eight in 14 seasons at Kansas, two Final Fours and a national title in 2008.
Then there were all of the former players, administrators, analysts and others who offered their endorsements for one of the newest members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
After Saturday's announcement, several current players, former players and others sent a message of support to Self through social media:
Our Series on Bill Self's Journey to the Hall of Fame
• Hall of Fame Material Part I: Larry Brown ‘in awe’ of Bill Self’s stellar run at Kansas
• Hall of Fame Material Part II: Daughter Lauren most impressed by Bill Self’s ability to mentor
• Hall of Fame Material Part III: Frank Mason III knew right away that Bill Self was the coach for him
• Hall of Fame Material Part IV: Doc Sadler says Bill Self same (sarcastic) guy as the day he met him
• Hall of Fame Material Part V: Bill Self’s style, passion make Danny Manning a proud alum
Bill Self will tell you his Kansas basketball team’s game at Kentucky Saturday night doesn’t mean as much as the Big 12 games against West Virginia and Baylor that bookend it. But the KU coach also realizes how important a showcase matchup such as KU versus UK is to fans and the people who follow college basketball closely.
As you might have guessed, when the Jayhawks toppled Kentucky Saturday night at Rupp Arena, it sent KU fans, and even some former and future players, into a frenzy on Twitter and other social media platforms.
Analysts and national journalists, too, had plenty of praise to send KU’s was following an impressive road victory.
Below are some of the highlight reactions to the Jayhawks’ win in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge, including some from the men who made it happen.
Nearly every time Kansas basketball coach Bill Self fields questions from the media, someone will bring up Jayhawks senior point guard Frank Mason III and the impact he has made this season.
“How good has Frank been?”
“What has Mason meant to your team?”
“Did you think when you were recruiting him Frank would turn out this good?”
Without hesitation, Self will highlight Mason’s toughness, driving, shooting, passing, rebounding, etc., and share his opinion that his senior point guard has been as good as any player in the country at this juncture.
Self isn’t the type to campaign for his players to win national awards, but such statements are his way of doing so in a low-key fashion. When Self talks, people around the college basketball world listen.
Anyone who has watched No. 2 Kansas (17-1 overall, 6-0 Big 12) play this year knows where the team would be without Mason, who is averaging a team-best 20.3 points per game, while also contributing 5.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds. The 5-foot-11 senior from Petersburg, Virginia, is even shooting 52.4% from the field and connecting more often from 3-point range, where he is 42-for-78 (53.8%).
As KU keeps on winning and Mason continues to carry the team, it boosts his case for national player of the year honors. At CBSSports.com, Gary Parrish ranked the top 25 candidates for the ultimate individual award gave Mason No. 1 billing, edging out the heart and soul of defending national champion Villanova, senior guard Josh Hart.
Neither Mason nor Hart are going to be NBA lottery picks the way past Wooden Award winners such as Buddy Hield, Anthony Davis and Blake Griffin were, but both are integral parts of two of the nation’s best teams, so Parrish ranks them ahead of UCLA freshman point guard Lonzo Ball, who many expect to have a long, successful NBA career.
As can be found on sports-reference.com, Hart’s player efficiency rating of 29.5 is one of the best in the country, ranking sixth overall. But Mason isn’t too far behind, with a PER of 26.1 (27th nationally).
Likewise, the debate between Hart and Mason, Parrish wrote, is close:
“I’ve had Josh Hart atop these Player of the Year rankings, and it's reasonable to keep the Villanova senior there. He's still fabulous and leading a team ranked No. 1 in the Top 25 (and one). But Frank Mason has never been far behind. And he's playing better than Hart lately. So now the Kansas senior is the headliner.”
The top 10 players in the running, according to Parrish, also includes one of Mason’s teammates, freshman Josh Jackson.
No. 1: Frank Mason III, Kansas
No. 2: Josh Hart, Villanova
No. 3: Lonzo Ball, UCLA
No. 4: Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
No. 5: De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky
No. 6: Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga
No. 7: Johnathan Motley, Baylor
No. 8: TJ Leaf, UCLA
No. 9: Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame
No. 10: Josh Jackson, Kansas
— See the complete list: KU’s Frank Mason moves to No. 1
KANSAS CITY, MO. — After coaching for 13 seasons at Pittsburgh, TCU men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon enters the Big 12 Conference with some appreciation for Bill Self and the Kansas program.
Speaking at Big 12 Media Day for the first time, Dixon compared Self to some of the coaching giants in the industry and said he's on his way to earning a plaque in the basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.
"We've gone against some pretty good coaches over the years and Hall of Famers. He's obviously a future Hall of Famer if not already," Dixon said of Self. "And, yeah, I mean, what they've done is inconceivable. No one could have predicted it, and it's still hard to believe."
Coaching in the ACC, Dixon matched up against some of the giants of the industry throughout the season. But he's amazed by the Jayhawks' 12-year reign at the top of the Big 12.
"There's nothing like this. I mean, to win it 12 years in a row and what Kansas has done, it's unheard of," Dixon said. "I guess it hasn't been done since UCLA, I guess is what they said. And that was obviously a different time. So, yeah, it is different in that regard. But probably stands out even more when you get the picks for the year, and the 12, 13th time, and they're claiming them the champion in the 13th year already."
The Horned Frogs are ranked last in the Big 12 coaches' preseason poll, but Dixon said it's ultimately up to the rest of the conference to unseat the Jayhawks from their spot at the top of the conference.
"I was talking to somebody earlier, it's unbelievable," Dixon said of the streak. "Obviously that was the thing about the Big East. There was no clear-cut team year-in, and year-out. We had the best record in the conference over a ten-year span. But we weren't looked at as the leader of the conference.
"There's no question about it. I guess it's up to the other nine to do something about it."
Bill Self is a popular and busy man around Lawrence, but the Kansas basketball coach doesn’t mind taking some time to boost the spirits of a young fan.
A short video message from Self began making the rounds on Facebook Monday.
The coach wished a bleated happy birthday to a young fan named Brooklyn, who, as the KU coach pointed out, had to celebrate from a hospital room.
“I know you’ve been going through a little bit of a rough stretch here recently,” Self says to the young Jayhawks fan in the video, “and your lungs are filling with blood right now, but I’m sure they’ll get that straightened out.
"But I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday. I hope you’re doing fine. I know that’s gotta get you down a little bit, especially on an important day like this.
"But I’m sure mom and dad are gonna take care of you in a big, big way.”
And, in typical Self fashion, the coach found a way to really personalize the interaction.
“I wish my players were just half as tough as what you are,” Self told the youngster.
Watch Self’s message below:
Entering the final game of the regular season, No. 1-ranked Kansas already has wrapped up its 12th consecutive Big 12 championship ahead of Saturday’s Allen Fieldhouse finale, versus No. 21 Iowa State.
KU coach Bill Self discussed the Jayhawks’ Senior Day and much more at his weekly press conference on Thursday afternoon.
— Read the Q&A highlights from KUsports.com’s live coverage of the press conference: Jayhawks preparing for season finale
Coming off a memorable overtime victory against Kentucky, the Kansas Jayhawks return to Big 12 play on Wednesday night, when they host in-state rival Kansas State.
KU coach Bill Self discussed the Sunflower Showdown, the Jayhawks’ issues on defense and much more at his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon.
— Check out the highlights from the Q&A from KUsports.com’s live coverage.
During his weekly press conference on Thursday afternoon, Bill Self answered questions about the No. 3-ranked Jayhawks, who are coming off a loss at Oklahoma State, and play host to Texas on Saturday, at Allen Fieldhouse.
Self opened the Q&A by addressing what the team talked about when they got together the day after KU lost at OSU.
“I think there were several things, but I think that the big thing is you don't go from being a really good team to a bad team overnight. You have bad days,” Self said.
— Check out the highlights from the presser at KUsports.com’s live site.
— AUDIO | Bill Self: Going to be ‘wild’ year in Big 12.
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self met the media Thursday afternoon to discuss the No. 4-ranked Jayhawks’ season opener against Northern Colorado.
But the discussion quickly turned to KU freshman big man Cheick Diallo, who is still waiting to hear from the NCAA Clearinghouse regarding his eligibility.
- Click here to read about what Self said on the Diallo matter and much more: Live coverage recap
- Listen to the complete press conference: Bill Self remains confident Cheick Diallo will play for KU this season