Thursday, September 26, 2013

Self: Newcomers’ talents impressive


Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self has been impressed with the eight players in his recruiting Class of 2013.

“This is the most talented class we have signed,” Self said Wednesday at KU’s media day.

The eight players are freshmen Brannen Greene, Joel Embiid, Conner Frankamp, Frank Mason, Wayne Selden and Andrew Wiggins; senior transfer Tarik Black, who is eligible after graduating from Memphis; and sophomore Hunter Mickelson, who must sit out a season after transferring from Arkansas.

“You know Julian (Wright), Brandon (Rush), Mario (Chalmers) and Micah Downs (in 2005) … that was pretty good. You got three McDonald’s All-Americans plus Brandon who would have made it, but he wasn’t eligible for it. So I don’t know if when you talk about four quality guys, I don’t know if we have any guys with more quality than that, but we do have more,” Self added. “I do think there are eight pretty good players. So it’s without a question the deepest class we’ve had. Of course it remains to be seen if it’s the best one, but I certainly think it has potential to be the best.”

With so many outstanding players, there’s a chance somebody could be red-shirted.

“I foresee us talking about it with maybe one or two guys,” Self said. “The possibilities of who could potentially do such a thing is limited because we have already had some guys either transfer or red-shirt and that kind of stuff. So I wouldn’t be surprised if one guy red-shirted and things like that. It won’t be because we tell ’em they have to, but because they, and their family, think it is best for their career.

“I still — after seeing Travis (Releford) and Jeff Withey (go through the red-shirt year) — I can’t understand if you’re not in the mix and top nine or something like that, why as a young kid you wouldn’t consider that, because if you just follow what they did, those guys had unbelievable careers just because they were patient. Sometimes I think that’s something that kids need to look at, but I don’t know who that would be right now. It depends how things play out during practice sessions.”

Self was asked to comment on signees not named Wiggins: “Wayne Selden, you guys will see, he’s prepared. A large part of that is because physically he is prepared. Brannen Greene is a talented player. Conner Frankamp, if there is somebody that can shoot better, I would like to see it because he can shoot it maybe as well as anyone we have had here. (If he) can he do it under game conditions remains to be seen, but we certainly think he can.

“I think Tarik Black may have been the big steal of any recruiting class in America because here is a guy that is a potential draft pick. You get all the maturity, and he already knows how to work. Coming in for one year, he knows it has to be a banner season for him, otherwise the transfer wasn’t worth it. He’s hungry.

“Joel (Embiid) is probably as talented of a big kid as we have had because he’s so good on his feet. There are a lot of guys who have the ‘potential’ tag around their neck but haven’t done anything yet. Frank Mason, he’s a guy that went to prep school, and we were begging him to come here. You guys will understand why once you see him play. We are excited about our entire class. Andrew (Wiggins) was the icing on the cake, but this class would have been one of the better classes even if Andrew hadn’t have come.”

Self on the possible rotation: “It doesn’t really matter because we will probably only play nine, but it could be a different nine. I think it’s one of those teams that could be a different nine depending on who’s playing well. It is a team where we play a solid nine in every big game, which we probably haven’t done in years past.”

Wiggins was asked if he knows about all the great players in KU history: “I’m going to get to that. Before the year is done, I’ll get (learn) all the history,” Wiggins said.

He was asked if he could be one of the greats. “Hopefully when all is said and done, I’ll be … ” he said, his voice trailing off.

Self on whether he feels more pressure than usual in Year 11 at KU: “Since I have been here, I have never felt any pressure,” he joked.

“I think there is pressure being a coach at a high-profile place all the time. But is there extra pressure? No. I think that my staff has done a pretty good job in developing guys, and certainly a lot of it falls on me, I know, but we aren’t going to please everybody. Certainly we are going to go through ups and downs where people think we shouldn’t be going through downs, but usually the downs are what allow us to be good in the end.

“So we won’t get hung up on that, but is there pressure for us to be good? There is every year. But the ultimate responsibility still falls — if you’re talking about developing individuals — on the individuals, and we’ve got to put them in the right spots and certainly allow them to utilize their skill set and motivate them a certain way, but still they’ve got to want to work. If wanting to work is not part of the equation, then the individuals will never live up to the hype. But if this group wants to work, I do think there is a chance they could all be pretty pleased in the end.”

Freshman Selden on he and Wiggins being a dynamic frosh duo: “We have two different types of games, but we are both fast-paced, in-your-face type of players. So I think it will work well.”

Sophomore Perry Ellis on the season: “I feel that we have a group of guys that all want to work. I feel that is the key to being good. Everyone wants to get better. Coach has talked to us a little bit about all the hype surrounding the team this year. He told us to just play our game. And don’t worry about everything else.”


Michael Luby 8 years, 10 months ago

Micah Downs was a wash, even if he was a Mickey D's. So this class shall hence forth be known as the greatest recruiting class ever!

Darren McSweeney 8 years, 10 months ago

Unless, of course, one or two from this class are a wash as well...

Chris Shaw 8 years, 10 months ago

I think you need to let the season play out and see how this group does in the NCAA tournament before you anoint them the greatest class ever at KU.

ParisHawk 8 years, 10 months ago

"we play a solid nine in every big game." Important quote. The 8th and 9th men will get meaningful minutes. The 10th man today may be the 9th man next game.

So there's hope for playing time for at least 9 guys - although I wouldn't be surprised to see a tighter rotation at the end of the season just like all prior years.

  • Black, Ellis, Embiid, Traylor, Lucas.
  • Wiggins, Selden, White, Greene, Frankamp.
  • Tharpe, Mason.

That's 12.

For a 9 man rotation, you need 4 bigs and 5 unbigs, plus 1 each for insurance.

So 5 bigs is not too many.

We have 7 unbigs, which is one too many. Someone has to redshirt.

Even then, each game there will be 1 big and 1 unbig sitting for 40 minutes. Maybe not the same ones every game, but still.

Joe Baker 8 years, 10 months ago

I would not RS both Greene and Frankamp at the same time. I would keep one on the roster. I've said it before and will say it again, I would RS Greene/Mason or AW3/Frankamp. If you RS Greene/CF, you really lose some much needed firepower. If AW3 is the most D1 experienced and Self seems to lean toward him playing this year, I would RS Greene/Mason.

Chris Shaw 8 years, 10 months ago

I will believe it when I see it from Self and the rotation. He barely goes 8 deep when the games matter most in the post season during the big dance.

His last most memorable 8 deep bench where he significantly used his 8th man was Cole Aldrich in 2008. Like I said, I will believe it when I see it.

Self is managing egos and personalities which is good and bad. I hope at least one guy considers a red-shirt.

Mel Clare 8 years, 10 months ago

Greene, Frankamp or Mason are your only choices of a redshirt this year.....Greene and Frankamp are SHOOTERS! Mason is a point guard.

Black is a transfer, Embid, Wiggins, Selden are all probably only OAD guys..........

Mickelson has to sit a year anyway.........

So? Who will it be? We need SHOOTERS, Frankamp or Selden can play point if needed to backup Tharpe so I think if anyone redshirted it would be Mason.

On the other hand.......NICE problem to have with so much talent!

REHawk 8 years, 10 months ago

Is not Lucas the only freshman to take a red shirt in the Bill Self era? Rarely is a red shirt offered to a freshman; although with so many current and possible future stars in this year's recruiting class, it could happen. I still view AW3 as the most likely candidate...if he craves development for future major minutes. With patience, he could be a Releford with a hotter shooting hand from the outside.

NebraskaJayhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

You guys are forgetting Andrew White. Not sure why nobody is mentioning this kid. I garauntee you that he is pushing for PT. He very well may be the redshirt this season though. He is quite a talent and I promise you he will have a huge season at KU at some point if he stays put which I think he will. Would be foolish not to.

Chris Shaw 8 years, 10 months ago

IMO, the redshirt comes down to those 4 of Greene, Frankamp, Mason, and White III. I could also see whomever is left out of the rotation behind Selden, Wiggins and Tharpe that any two between 1) Mason and Frankamp and 2) Greene and White III.

I think it's between those two groups of players for two spots potentially with one for sure red-shirting with the possibility of two.

Hawk8086 8 years, 10 months ago

Interesting comment on the solid nine rotation. Of course, the definition of solid can vary. Self usually does shoot for a 9 man rotation, however, 1 or 2 guys may only play 5 mins. or so. Agree that Greene, Frankamp, or Mason are the most likely candidates. I wouldn't bet on Mason, though.

Mick Allen 8 years, 10 months ago

You're absolutely correct. It won't be Mason.

dwjjhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

As far as who might red-shirt, the most likely in my mind would be Andrew White followed by Frankamp and then Greene. I know that White has a year of experience which could help in the early games, but he falls into the Releford situation where an extra year to develop would be good. He played some decent defense last year. But his specialty was shooting, and he was shaky at best.

NebraskaJayhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

Yeah I agree with you. If I would have scrolled down before commenting on someone else's it would have saved some typing. Agree 100% with you.

texashawk10 8 years, 10 months ago

The redshirt candidates are the losers of the AW3/Brannen Greene battle to be the back up big guard and the loser of the Frank Mason/Connor Frankamp battle to be the back up small guard. The only other possibility (less than 5% in my eyes) is Embiid so Self and Hudy can toughen him up and give him another year to develop out of the spotlight, but again I don't foresee that happening.

As far as the 9th guy being different each game, that just means he's planning to use both Traylor and Lucas this year, but which one just depends on the match up during a given game. This is a team with national title capability and I sure hope they play up to their talent. The lack of a killer instinct that has plagued KU basketball for a few years now is my biggest concern.

Chris Nieto 8 years, 10 months ago

I would think Frankamp, and the reasoning behind it would be for him to get stronger and develop better skills to play the point as well on the college level. Greene and White are two shooters that are more than capable of filling it up, while Greene is also an all-around scorer. Another obvious point is that both Greene and White have great size for the 2 & 3 spots.

Chris Nieto 8 years, 10 months ago

Additionally in interviews Frankamp and Greene were the two names typically left out. I understand part of that is bias based on the interviewer, but it makes more sense to redshirt a freshman than a sophomore like White, when we are likely to get a wing player in our recruiting class.

texashawk10 8 years, 10 months ago

Self loves to redshirt kids as sophomores because it allows them to get their feet wet as freshmen and really show them where the weak spots are in their game so they can really work on their weaknesses and become better players.

Steve Gantz 8 years, 10 months ago

So when the 9 man rotation is established, imagine the 10th-15th guys. If they could form the starting nucleus of a team in the Big 12, how would they do? I'm not saying they'd finish 2nd to KU, but I think they'd be competitive. We are going to have some real talent not playing many minutes at all.

Glen Miller 8 years, 10 months ago

I am not a coach or even someone who has seen all these kids play. I have no inside info from coach Self or his staff...... but here is my projection

PG - Tharpe (starting), Mason (backup) SG - Selden (starting), Frankamp (backup, shooting specialist) SF - Wiggins (starting), Greene (backup) PF - Ellis (starting), Embiid (backup) C - Black (starting), Lucas (backup)

Redshirts - Mickelson, White, Traylor bench - Self, Roberts, Wesley, Garret

Now.... Selden, Wiggins and Greene can rotate through the 2 and 3 in any combination. And I think Frankamp will be someone they bring in to get some long range buckets, but maybe not play a whole bunch of minutes. Traylor to me just doesn't play under enough control yet, so I don't see him playing much. Andrew White is unfortunately just a victim of the numbers game and probably isn't as talented as some of the others.

Again, this could be totally off and wrong, but just from what I've gathered anyways.

Ron Prichard 8 years, 10 months ago

Traylor has alreay redshirted so that isn't an option.

texashawk10 8 years, 10 months ago

You have 10 in the rotation and Self has said multiple times that he's going 9 deep this year.

justanotherfan 8 years, 10 months ago

Let's play guess the redshirt game. First, let's eliminate guys who can't/ won't redshirt.

The guys that have already redshirted (and thus, cannot do so again) Lucas, Traylor, Wesley

The freshmen who are too good to redshirt Embiid, Selden, Wiggins

Likely starters (also too good to redshirt) Ellis, Tharpe

Seniors Black

Guys that wouldn't benefit the program with the extra year (coach's sons) Manning, Roberts, Self

Walkons Garrett

Already sitting out Mickelson

That leaves exactly 4 players - Conner Frankamp, Brannen Greene, Frank Mason, Andrew White III.

Looking first at team needs, only one player listed above is a point guard, so one of the players that WILL NOT redshirt will play PG. That makes it slightly more likely that Greene and White get the redshirts, particularly if they don't make the rotation. Shooting is ALWAYS a valuable resource, and there are three guys with reputations as great shooters in Frankamp, Greene and White. At least one of that group WILL NOT redshirt.

So now on to Self's comments to see what he's thinking. Every time Self talks about the PG situation he mentions three players, usually in this order - Tharpe, Mason and Selden as the "emergency PG." He doesn't talk about Frankamp when he discusses the PG situation, so my take is this means that Frankamp will not be the backup PG. Since there has to be a backup PG (not just an emergency PG) Mason will not redshirt this year (barring injury).

Self has declared that Frankamp is the "best shooter" of the remaining guys, but has expressed some concern about him getting his shot off in college. Greene and White have both been touted as talented shooters, but not on Frankamp's level. They are both bigger guys though (6-6, 6-7) so that gives them a bit of an edge in getting shots off, and in being able to defend different players on the wing.

My guess is that Self will give all three the option to redshirt if they feel that is best for them, but would not want more than 2 to actually pursue the redshirt option because you want to be able to dial up a shooter if a defense decides to pack it in. Personally, I think this means White will probably be the last man in the perimeter rotation, with Frankamp and Greene pondering redshirts, although only Greene will probably ultimately take one.

Beate Williams 8 years, 10 months ago

I think this is a very good analysis of the situation and feel strongly that you have hit the nail on its head. Will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Todd Mobray 8 years, 10 months ago

I like your post and agree. When I read it, all I hear in my head is this scene from the Princess Bride:

ParisHawk 8 years, 10 months ago

I'm on board too. I think Greene and White are the two players with the most similar profiles. If White redshirts, they will be fighting each other for minutes for the rest of their careers. If Greene redshirts, they will be two years apart and both could succeed as upperclassmen.

Frankamp is a unique weapon; let's not unload him before the season starts!

jaybate 8 years, 10 months ago

If Conner shoots < 40%, then Conners gets the rouge smoking jacket, else next.

If Conner shoots > 40% the first three weeks then he stays, and either AW3, or Greene get the rouge smoking jacket.

If If Conner shoots > 40% and AW# shoots > 40 %, then Greene gets the rouge smoking jacket, else

If Conner shoots > 40% and Green shoots > 40, then AW3 gets rouge smoking jacket, else

If Conner, Greene, and AW3 shoot < 40%, then no one red shirts and all are run after this season.

Just a little BasicA humor on the last programming line.

No one is getting run.

Jeff Coffman 8 years, 10 months ago

I think the big question after all of these ESPN articles is whether or not Self will red-shirt...that will ensure at least one more year for HCBS...although I don't think he'll ever leave.

Joe Baker 8 years, 10 months ago

Frankamp is a great player and a great shooter. However, his transition to D1 is unproven because of his size and shot. If you remember, he himself said, his feet and lateral movements are his biggest opps right. I think he lacks the ability to move with big guards that are quick.
Mason on the other hand is quick and can move, but will he be able to get his shot off against longer guards? Greene to me is the X-factor in this RS mystery. He has it all and Self loves a good shooter who is long, and can play defense. Greene can do it all. AW3 is experienced and understands D1 better than all the above. His feet and his ability to get his shot should be greatly improved this year. I don't see a RS. He has a slight edge over Greene. I love Greene and think he will be nasty over the next 3-4 years. His RS Senior year would be insane, if he stays.

Your RS will likely be Greene/Mason. I typed many times on this board that Greene/CF are too good shooters that would waste away on the bench. I would love for any one of Greene, Frankamp or Mason around an extra year. It would be nice to have a true pg around for 4-5 years too. Frankamp is not a pg and just don't think he could develop into a D1 pg. I love the way he uses screens.

justanotherfan 8 years, 10 months ago


As our own KU team proved last year, you cannot succeed if you have only one legitimate primary ball handler on the roster. That means that Mason is not even a redshirt candidate at this point because he is the second primary ball handler, this according to Self's own comments during this offseason. Unless you believe Tharpe will play 37+ mpg this season, Mason will not be redshirting.

REHawk 8 years, 10 months ago

I like Andrew White and think he will be a superior performer before he leaves Lawrence. That said, if he hopes to start someday, I think his best move is to redshirt the upcoming season. With a bundle of potential, he can bounce back from two years of little but practice and development time, then have 3 years available to contribute significant playing minutes. This current squad will probably need Frankamp's occasional insertion to save a game or two. Mason will play backup to Tharpe. That leaves Greene or White for probably the one red shirt. Greene is still an unknown collegiate talent. His misjudgment at the wheel this summer casts a touch of suspicion upon his decision making. Self might wish to view his focus and determination before offering a red shirt for an extended tenure.

jaybate 8 years, 10 months ago

REHawk, maybe best post of the day for sheer wisdom of insight.

REHawk 8 years, 10 months ago

Thnx, jb. If any current player takes the shirt, I think it is White. If no one chooses to do so, there could be a sour face perched above the pine. Not to say that White or Greene would be inclined toward glumness; but, hey, someone with a bundle of future potential is likely to suffer huge disappointment unless he bites the bullet and selects a sound opportunity after the two exhibition games.

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