Saturday, April 1, 2017

He’s in! KU’s Bill Self elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

Kansas head coach Bill Self smiles as he barbs an official during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self smiles as he barbs an official during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Saturday morning at a ceremony in the desert not far from the site of this year’s Final Four, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame officially confirmed something that Kansas basketball fans have believed for years.

Bill Self is a Hall of Famer.

Self, 54, on Saturday was announced as one of 11 members of the Hall of Fame’s 2017 class, which will be inducted into the Springfield, Mass., shrine in early September.

That was just a formality, though. Self himself actually found out about the honor earlier in the week and on Saturday shared the experience.

“A lot of times in life you prepare for how something could go down and then when it actually goes down there’s no preparation,” he began. “I was driving, alone, (when I got the phone call) and I had to pull off the road. Although I’m not the most emotional person, I became overcome with emotion. It was special.... To be in an elite group of people that you’ve grown up idolizing and trying to emulate is quite an honor.”


Kansas head coach Bill Self raises up a ceremonial ball commemorating his 600th win as he celebrates with his players and those attending the Jayhawks' 105-62 win over UMKC, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

One of 14 finalists on this year’s ballot, Self received at least 75 percent of the 24 available votes by the Hall’s Honors Committee and becomes the fifth of eight Kansas men’s basketball coaches to be welcomed into the prestigious group, joining James Naismith, Phog Allen, Larry Brown and Roy Williams.

“It’s the highest honor in the game of basketball, to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said at Saturday’s ceremony. “It’s the greatest of the great. Being great isn’t good enough for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. You have to be the greatest of the great.”

A first-time member of the Hall of Fame ballot, Self’s credentials certainly stack up with those head coaches already in the Hall of Fame. During 24 seasons at Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Illinois and Kansas, the Oklahoma native has racked up 623 victories and a winning percentage of .764, 623-192. That more than 400 of those have come at a blue blood institution like Kansas, where his winning percentage jumps to .827 (416-87), including a ridiculous 221-10 record in home games, only solidified his candidacy to become a Hall of Famer.

During his 14 seasons at KU, Self has led the Jayhawks to one national championship, two Final Fours, seven trips to the Elite Eight and 13 consecutive Big 12 Conference regular season titles.


Basketball Hall of Fame members from left, Bill Self, Muffet McGraw, Tracy McGrady, Rebecca Lobo, Tom Jernstedt, Mannie Jackson and Robert Hughes stand with Jerry Colanego and John Doleva, president and CEO of the Hall of Fame, right, during halftime of the semifinal between Gonzaga and South Carolina in the Final Four at the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self on the honor of becoming a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame

Saturday morning, Bill Self joined ESPN's Hall of Fame selection show in Arizona and talked about the honor of becoming one of 11 people honored in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's 2017 class.

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“As a coach, I think you always want team first, you always want the players to experience the best, whatever the best is, and, certainly, we’ve done that a little bit,” Self said Saturday. “Not as much as we had hoped, but we’ve had a pretty good run. And I’ve never really thought about the individual stuff much at all. But, unfortunately since last Saturday I’ve had a chance to think about it a little bit more.... I would not have been the least bit disappointed if I didn’t get the thumbs up because I thought it was such an honor just to be a finalist.”

When asked who among those closest to him was most emotional about his latest honor, Self pointed to his daughter, Lauren, whom he said welled up a little at a Friday night banquet.

“I told people by phone so I didn’t get a chance to see their expression when it happened,” Self said. “But I know mom and dad are pretty proud.”

As for how his latest honor compared to winning the 2008 national championship, Self said both were special but also different.

“The national championship in 2008 is a little bit different because the feeling that overcomes you is one that you’re representing so many,” he explained. “You’ve got an entire nation of fans and all the players on your roster and those sorts of things. That was ridiculously special, but this one is more about the journey and all the people that have played a role in propping you up and putting you in position to have success.

“There’s so many great coaches out there and so many are recognized because they’ve won a ton of games. But, really, the institution you coach at and your assistant coaches and all those things, they play such a role in giving you a chance to win games. When you coach at Kansas, I mean, you should win games because you should get good players. There’s a lot of guys out there that, in my opinion, are Hall of Fame coaches because they go 20-10 when their ceiling was maybe 13-13. And I don’t see myself any different from those guys out there that are busting it every day but just haven’t quite had the same resources that I’ve had.”


Kansas head coach Bill Self talks about facing Oregon during a press conference on Friday, March 24, 2017 at Sprint Center.

Despite Self’s humility, including his comments last month that others who had put in more time were more deserving of the honor, there were plenty of people associated with KU willing to sing Self’s praises.

"Bill has earned this honor,” said KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger. “With his passion, his ability to teach, develop and adapt, and his consistency of excellence at the highest level over a long period of time. He has indelibly made his mark as a wonderful steward of the great tradition of Kansas Basketball.”

Added outgoing KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little: “When the first basketball coach in your university's history was also the inventor of the game, expectations are high. Coach Self has met, and I would say exceeded, all expectations since arriving at KU and has confirmed his status among the great coaches in college basketball. On behalf of the University of Kansas and Jayhawks everywhere, I want to congratulate Coach Self on his selection to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, and I want to thank him for all he has done to continue KU's remarkable basketball tradition.”

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


Matt Gonzo 5 years, 6 months ago

I was so excited when this became official this morning. Congrats coach Self. Jayhawk nation is very proud of what you have brought to the university. You are a class act and you so deserve this accolade. I for one, hope many many years from now, you retire as coach of the Jayhawks. Keep recruiting and winning coach.

As for you so called fans who were calling for Coach Self to be removed as head coach.... maybe you should be fired as fans. Move on to another school. (Your at the top of the list BL) KU "has" one of the best, Hall of Fame coaches and damn it feels good.

Keep rock chalk Jayhawking

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 6 months ago

This is the highest honor for a truly great coach, mentor, leader, role model, husband, father, son, and any other category you want to pick. I agree with you, Matt, and hope that we have the privilege and pleasure to have Bill Self and his staff as the leaders of the KU basketball program for many years to come.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 6 months ago

Perhaps it is just coincidence, but I think it is admirable that the young men who have decisions to make about next year (Josh, Devonte, and perhaps Svi) were silent this week to let Frank Mason and Bill Self bask in the glow of their awards and recognition. This is their week, and it hopefully says volumes about the class and team spirit that existed this year on the KU team. It's just a shame that it ended earlier than we all had hoped.

Rae Bricil 5 years, 6 months ago

what a great and well deserved honor. Just out of curiosity--have coaches always been able to be inducted in the hall of fame while they are still active?

RJ King 5 years, 6 months ago

"becomes the fifth of eight Kansas men’s basketball coaches . . . joining James Naismith, Phog Allen, Larry Brown and Roy Williams."

Five HOF coaches in the same sport. Wow. Can any other school make that claim?

I only witnessed Ted Owens, Larry Brown & Roy, but I always felt that Roy was more of a "father figure" (even at age 39), and that Self was more of a "player's coach." Different personnas, but both at the very top of their profession, in every way.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 6 months ago

I wish Owens could have picked off a National Championship one of this years the team was so close. If he had done so, there would have been a strong argument for him to be the 6th of 8 in the HOF. Admittedly, winning the NC is not the sole determinate but it helps a lot and Owens racked up a lot of conference titles and wins. I doubt Harp would have ever gotten in the HOF, even if he had won the NC in '57 with Wilt.

RJ King 5 years, 6 months ago

Yes - I remember those games vs UCLA in the semi's and Notre Dame with Adrian Dantley in the 8 (?). I moved away in '78, and with no ESPN or internet it was tough to follow the Hawks in depth.

It seems Owens just couldn't get over the hump of being good/great to great/elite. But what fun it was to watch all those changes from shot clock to 3-point!

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 6 months ago

The 1966 team that lost to Texas Western might have been his best team and maybe should have won that game and gone on to the final 4. The best but questionable video/photography looks to have Joe Joe White's foot next to but not on the out of bounds line.

It was an Elite 8 game–of course.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 6 months ago

'66 certainly stands out large. In addition to '66, the Owen's teams of '71 and '78 could have certainly done it. The '71, with Robish. team had UCLA on the ropes. '78 team was super bashed by the NCAA with the draw. I don't think the '74 team, although in the Final Four, had much of a chance vs the great UCLA and NC State teams.

Had Owens picked up any one of those, he'd have a very good shot. Had he picked up two of them....he'd be in already.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 5 months ago

I was at KU in '78 and although a really good team, losing in the first round left a really bad taste. I remember the 'Gong Owen's' signs gaining momentum after that.

UCLA in the 1st round was ridiculous.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 5 months ago

Yea and out there. I was really close to that team.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 6 months ago

How are we going to fire him now? My master plan was to get Geno Auriemma. I'm sure UConn fans are ready to lynch him for not winning the National Championship and will fire him in the next couple of days.

Buck Bukaty 5 years, 5 months ago

No April Fools here! The selection committee validates what most of the rest of us, his real fans, have realized for some time. Keep it up, Coach! RCJH GO KU!!!

Noel Graham 5 years, 5 months ago

Self certainly deserves it but I like the way the other sports HOFs do it by waiting until the end of your career. It feels a little premature.

Brett McCabe 5 years, 5 months ago

Then coaches would all be in their 70's before they could get added. Waiting until a playing career is over is fine, but coaches should definitely qualify while they are still in the business.

For us, it's got to be a great thing for recruiting

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 5 months ago

I see both sides. Coaches in football/baseball, announcers and other contributors who didn't actually play the game still need 5 years after their careers to be inducted.

Other sports such as football and baseball have separate Hall of Fames for college and professional.

I'm glad to see Coach Self rightly inducted in accordance with the established rules.

Janet Olin 5 years, 5 months ago

Congratulations, Coach Self! You deserve this, and we (Jayhawk Nation) couldn't be more proud. RCJHGKU

Steve Zimmerman 5 years, 5 months ago

no one deserves more than coach Self. yes, indeed we are so lucky he sticks around for this long. I urge kusports to have an article for fans to describe coach Self. I'll start with one: - a great motivator..

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 5 months ago

I'll take two: fabulous role model and wonderful teacher of life lessons.

Vincent Patterson 5 years, 5 months ago

So one national championship and two final fours is all it takes to be a HOF coach? Sorry, but as much as I like Self, this is a bit premature. And if the argument is because of his dominance in the Big 12, folks let's be real, the Big 12 is clearly overrated. To only make the Final Four 6% of the time (with 2 out of 3 appearances belonging to KU) during the 13 year streak shows just how weak this conference is. Sure, he has done his job which is to win the conference and get the highest seed you can heading into the NCAAs, but 2-7 in Elite Eight games is not HOF worthy. And FYI, that 6% puts the Big 12 behind 5 other conferences! The Big 12 is just not on the same level as other conferences, numbers don't lie!

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