Originally published March 31, 2016 at 1:40 p.m., updated March 31, 2016 at 11:32 p.m.
Houston Bill Self, who this past season directed Kansas University to its 12th-straight Big 12 championship, the league postseason tourney title for the seventh time (in 13 tries) and a spot in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight, on Thursday was named Associated Press national coach of the year.
Self, who also won the award in 2009, became the eighth coach to win the trophy more than once. UCLA’s John Wooden won it five times and Indiana’s Bob Knight three times. Others to win two: Roy Williams, Ralph Miller, Guy Lewis, Eddie Sutton and Ray Meyer.
“I would much rather be here with my team playing,” Self said at the AP’s awards ceremony in Houston, site of the Final Four. “This is great and there are dozens of people worthy of this award. But to be in that group (of multiple winners) is something I’ll always respect and treasure.”
It appears to be just a matter of time before Self lands a spot in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. A league title next year would tie UCLA’s record for consecutive conference titles. He has one national title and one national runner-up finish at the age of 53.
“It was a great season. I don’t think you can call it a special season unless you get here (Houston),” said Self, who received 21 votes from an AP panel. Chris Mack of Xavier and Dana Altman of Oregon had 15 and 13 votes respectively. “Looking back, I don’t think I could ever have a team sacrifice more or be more unselfish. It will always be one of my most special groups I’ve had.”
Of his 33-5 squad, which was ranked No. 1 in the country five weeks, he said: “Coaches probably know better than anybody what team’s ceilings are. These kids played pretty close to it the last couple months. Nobody could say these kids didn’t have a great year. They battled hard and almost always rose to the occasion when they needed to.”
Self’s players can see why he’s now won 2015-16 coach of year awards from the AP, the NABC, USA Today and Bleacher Report.
“He’s awesome,” said forward Landen Lucas. “He’s somebody who has been through it all. We can all rely on him, his understanding how to handle difficult situations. We committed to the things he said and got it done. He always is pushing for more. It’s about buying in and committing to what he’s talking about.”
“He helped me out so much the four years I’ve been here,” said forward Perry Ellis. “I’ve grown so much, learned how to be successful on and off the court.”
Asked why he’s so popular, junior Wayne Selden Jr., said: “Because he wins. I think everybody loves a winner. He’s a charismatic guy and he wins.”
Quiet day on NBA front: After Cheick Diallo, Selden and Brannen Greene declared for the draft in successive days ... all was quiet on Thursday.
“There’s nothing official (to report) at all,” KU coach Self said, asked by the Journal-World of the status of Svi Mykhailiuk and Carlton Bragg. He indicated they are still evaluating their futures with family members and/or mentors. A source close to Bragg told the J-W on Thursday “as of right now no news. If something comes up I will let you know.”
Selden and Greene said they soon will hire agents. Diallo left open the possibility that he could return by saying he had no immediate plans to sign with an agent. Self has told the J-W he expects Diallo, who has a high upside (which is valued by the NBA on Draft Day), to remain in the draft.
Incentives: Self receives $100,000 for winning AP coach of the year as part of his KU contract. He nets $50,000 for winning the regular-season Big 12 title and $25,000 for the Big 12 tourney title.
Jackson update: Josh Jackson, co-MVP of Wednesday’s McDonald’s Game and the country’s No. 1 recruit, reiterated on Wednesday he has decided on a college. The Detroit native’s finalists were KU, Michigan State and Arizona. He is expected to announce sometime after playing in the Nike Hoop Summit on April 9 in Portland, Ore.
“I’m really waiting for an opportunity where I can be home, be around my family and close friends,” he said of his announcement date. “I really want to (announce) around the people who have been supporting me the whole way through.”
He added: “There was definitely a point in time where I was so confused about where to go to school. I was just thinking about it and it was tearing me apart, it was really stressing me out. I feel relieved and I finally know in my heart which school I want to go to.”