It's Hall of Fame Week for KU coach Bill Self
Throughout the past decade or so of Kansas basketball you’ve heard — perhaps even said — the chatter, in any given year, about how KU’s roster was so deep that its second five could finish in the Top half of the Big 12 Conference.
Although we’ve never been able to find out for sure, on many occasions, the claim certainly has seemed true, as KU coach Bill Self often has stacked his roster with such incredible depth and talent that it’s hard to believe so many talented players could be on the same team.
So what if we apply that line of thinking to Bill Self’s coaching career and imagine for a second that Self, who is set to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, could actually still have a Hall of Fame career ahead of him, too.
Think about it. While the grinding Self did at Oral Roberts, Tulsa and even Illinois positioned him for the job at Kansas, where he has won at an unprecedented rate and established a pace and set records that may never been seen again, it’s possible that Self’s best years are still ahead.
That’s not to take anything away from the turnaround at Oral Roberts, the deep tournament run at Tulsa or the national runner-up roster he built at Illinois. All of those achievements played a big part in Self being selected for the Hall of Fame the first time he appeared on the ballot. But there’s no doubt that his achievements at Kansas put him over the top.
One national championship, a pair of Final Fours, seven Elite Eight appearances, and, of course, a record-tying run of 13 consecutive Big 12 titles and counting. Without those feats on his resume, Self may still be waiting for the call from the Hall. But even if he were, isn’t it conceivable that what lies ahead for Self and the Jayhawks might actually top what he’s done to this point?
OK, he probably won’t win another 13 Big 12 titles in a row and push the incredible streak to 26 — but would you bet against it? And, depending on how long he plans to continue coaching, it’s no sure thing that he’ll get to another seven Elite Eights.
But can’t you see a few more Final Fours and another national title or two in Self’s future?
If so, you know that a bunch of victories would come with them, and that alone — what Self does from this point forward — likely would be enough to get him into the Hall of Fame in and of itself.
As it stands today, though, he doesn’t have to wait.
And while we wait for the week ahead, which will include all kinds of coverage of Self’s induction into the Hall of Fame, including stories and photos from the KUsports.com staff in Springfield, Mass., here’s a quick look back at our Bill Self “Hall of Fame Material” series in late March and early April that led up to the announcement and included thoughts from some of the people who know Self best.
“I’m in awe of what he’s done.” — Larry Brown
“I’m definitely not always there and don’t understand a lot of things that go into the day to day grind of being a coach, but I know how hard he works and what’s important to him. It is incredible to see guys stand up on senior night and share not only the impact that my dad has had on them as a player but also as a man.... To pour his life into these guys, some of whom come to college really lost, the hard work isn’t just in the X’s and O’s of basketball but in helping build these people into adults and helping them make something of their lives. I really admire that about my dad. He’s always wanted to be the best. He wants to win. But I don’t think it’s ever been just about him.” — Lauren (Self) Browning
“Just look at the numbers and the history he’s been a part of here, and even before here. It’s just unbelievable what he’s been able to do.” — Frank Mason III
“I mean, he’s the most unbelievable friend. Everybody knows about his coaching. They get that. But to have the ability to get the best out of people around him is what separates him from a lot of people.” — Doc Sadler
“The things that he’s done at the University of Kansas, basketball-wise, as well as with his contribution to the community and the area in general, make me extremely proud to be an alum, not only of the school but also of the program.” — Danny Manning
“He’s the whole package. He’s a great game coach and a tremendous recruiter. The thing he does that’s different is that Bill is such a people person. He remembers everybody’s name and remembers things about them.” — Bob Davis
“I haven’t been with him for four or five years, but he’s still with me. I’m 27 and he’s the most influential male in my life, just because of the things he said to me that stuck with me.” — Tyshawn Taylor
“He can coach. He can recruit. He can relate to kids better than anybody I’ve seen. And he doesn’t motivate through all the phony grabbing of sayings from Civil War and from Patton and all that stuff. He has a way of putting everything in the context of the present and letting it motivate the kids." — Roger Morningstar
“I can give you chapter and verse of all the things he’s accomplished, as everyone else can. And that’s why he’s in the Hall of Fame. But to me, what makes him a Hall of Famer is he’s one of the most authentic people I know. He’s humble, self-deprecating, what you see is what you get, and that’s refreshing. He’s a celebrity that doesn’t act like it.” — Sheahon Zenger
“I couldn’t possibly name all the great things people have had to say about him, but if I had to pick one that stood out it would be how people appreciate the relationship with his players.” — Bill Self Sr.