Bill Self on recruiting: 'High school rankings can be so overrated'


Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Throughout the past decade, Kansas has found itself ranked among the top teams in the country and competing for a top seed in the NCAA Tournament each season.

Perhaps the only ranking system that hasn’t shown the Jayhawks at the top annually are recruiting class rankings. Duke and Kentucky have traded turns with the No. 1 class for the last several seasons, while Bill Self's classes have been a little lower.

On ESPN’s Campus Conversation podcast with Jeff Goodman last week, Self was asked why the Jayhawks haven’t competed as often for the No. 1 spot as Kentucky or Duke, even though the Hall of Fame coach has proven he can land top-ranked prospects like Andrew Wiggins and Josh Jackson.

“These high school rankings can be so overrated,” Self said. “We went to the national championship game with not one McDonald’s All-American on our roster in 2012 and last year’s national player of the year (Frank Mason III) was not a McDonald’s All-American. Joel Embiid was not a McDonald’s All-American. We’ve done fairly well but to look strictly at rankings is the wrong way to look at it, even as a fan.”

The Jayhawks are off to a very strong start to their Class of 2018. Even with Silvio De Sousa opting to reclassify to help the team this season, guards Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes, and forward David McCormack, all earned selections to the 24-player McDonald’s All-American Game in March.

Kansas is ranked No. 3 in the team rankings by Rivals and ESPN, and fifth by 247Sports. The Jayhawks had only one Top 5 class, according to ESPN, since 2010. Of course, not all years are created equal with the availability of scholarships or adding college transfers instead of high schoolers.

“It is comical to me,” Self said. “Kentucky has by far the most pros in the NBA, they’ve got 30. I was watching something on ESPN and I think that Duke is second with 23 and then us and (North) Carolina are third right now with 16. You don’t get 16 guys to the pros when you recruit them and they can’t play.”

Since 2010, the Jayhawks have recruited eight one-and-done prospects: Josh Jackson, Cheick Diallo, Cliff Alexander, Kelly Oubre, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Ben McLemore and Josh Selby.

“You recruit the best kids but you also want the best kids to fit everything you are trying to do,” Self said. “If I can recruit five one-and-dones every year, I would. But that’s not what we do. Certainly, we won’t beat everybody in recruiting every year, but I’ll tell you this, Kentucky and Duke don’t beat everybody every time either.”

Since 2010, the Jayhawks have been a one or two seed in each NCAA Tournament, so it's difficult to say that any of the recent recruiting classes haven't matched up with Kentucky, Duke or other blue blood programs.

The last Top 5 ranked class was in 2013, which featured Wiggins, Embiid, Mason, Conner Frankamp and Brannen Greene.

“Recruiting is such an inexact science,” Self said. “I think the best teams have always been the ones with maybe the most talented guy is the youngest but the heart and soul is always the oldest. I think Jay Wright has taken that formula into a whole new level in what they’ve done there at Villanova.”


Jim Stauffer 1 year ago

Kentucky and Duke are the new champions of the one and dones. The last two NCAA champions are Villanova and UNC. Neither of them are even in the race for the most one and dones.

Gary McCullough 1 year ago

High rankings fail to appreciate the experience gained through developing athletes over 4 years. The ""1&done" players are exciting, but it's the veteran players that know the system and provide a basis for continuing success at KU.

Titus Canby 1 year ago

I'm with you, Gary. I'll take a Frank Mason or Perry Ellis any day over an Andrew Wiggins, Cheick Diallo, Cliff Alexander, Kelly Oubre, Josh Selby or even Joel Embiid. I think Josh Jackson is the exception when it comes to one and dones.

In my humble opinion, you build a program with the 3 and 4-year guys. You supplement it with the one and dones.

Craig Carson 1 year ago

the HS rankings get fan bases excited..lets face it, would we have been as excited if an unranked, unknown Josh Jackson had picked KU last season? probably not..him being the #2 ranked player in his class gave us all excitement...IMO, the top 10 rankings are usually accurate, the next 15 are hit and miss but mostly accurate..but the rankings get less accurate as it goes down the list..I personally am more concerned with how many *'s are by their name than class ranking

Ryan Ferree 1 year ago

I'll take a 4 year player like Mitch Lightfoot over a Josh Selby 4 out of 5 days per week.

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