Kansas University’s basketball players aren’t shy about speaking up when a teammate needs direction on the court.
“I listen to the guys. I listen to them talk. I listen to them coach each other and get on each other,” KU coach Bill Self said on Tuesday’s Hawk Talk radio show.
“They seem to respect when the other guy gets on them. I’ve seen Tyshawn (Taylor) get after Marcus and Markieff (Morris), and I’ve seen them get after Ty, and it’s kind of water off your back, which is a good thing.”
Talking, of course, is a form of leading.
The Jayhawks this season need to replace one of the great leaders in school history in point guard Sherron Collins of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats.
“I don’t know if we’ll have one (leader). I don’t know if that’s bad, either. I think we’ll do it by committee,” Self said.
“I do believe those guys (Taylor, twins) are capable. I believe Brady (Morningstar), Mario (Little) and Tyrel (Reed) are tough. I think Travis (Releford) is a leader in his own way.”
Self said there’s a huge “X-factor” in the leadership department.
“When Josh gets comfortable,” Self said of freshman point guard Josh Selby, who has practiced but not yet been cleared by the NCAA to play in games.
“Josh has a mind-set that is similar to Sherron in that he really believes that nobody can guard him. He really believes he wants the ball at all times. He doesn’t need it at all times, but he believes he should have it. He has that inner confidence that few people at that age have. How soon he gets comfortable I think could go a long way in giving us a presence,” Self said.
Collins finished his career as KU’s all-time winningest player.
“He gave us a presence of confidence. You’d look around, and we’re not playing very well, and it’s, ‘Sherron will make a play. Sherron will do something.’ I am hoping we have players emerge to do that,” Self said.
The great news is there are so many candidates on a KU team that takes a 2-0 record into Friday’s 7 p.m. home battle against North Texas.
“I do see a lot more balance on this team,” Self said. “The ball moves better. I really feel we could have seven different players be our leading scorer at some point this year.”
More on Tharpe
Self thinks he sees a future on-court leader in Naadir Tharpe, a 6-foot senior from Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., who last week signed a letter of intent with KU.
“I’m telling you, people are going to love this kid,” Self said. “He is a chameleon. He will be the most popular kid on campus by the end of the first semester.
“He showed up on his (campus) visit wearing a tie. I don’t know when the last time anybody’s ever worn a tie on a visit.
KU entered the recruiting picture late, stealing Tharpe from the clutches of Oklahoma and Minnesota.
“He is one of those guys we really didn’t recruit,” Self said. “We recruited a couple kids off his team (New England Playaz AAU players Kaleb Tarczewski and Alex Murphy) that are young. We thought we had another point guard who we spent a lot of time on, about three years on. He ended up choosing another school,” Self added of Arizona commit Josiah Turner of Sacramento, Calif.
“We’re kind of scrambling around and ended up getting a guy we wanted. It’s one of those neat things that sometimes happen in recruiting. He was a guy ... we weren’t on his list. As soon as we were on his list, he (said), ‘I want to go to KU.’ Being recruited pretty high, to tell everybody else he definitely wanted to be a Jayhawk was pretty cool,” Self added.
Self compares Rivals.com’s No. 91-rated player to four-year KU starter Aaron Miles.
“Aaron had a unique way. He could be ornery and still get anybody to do what he wanted them to do, to do what was best for us and have them not know he totally manipulated them. He was very smart in that regard,” Self said with a laugh. “I think Naadir will have some of the same characteristics. People will want to follow him.”
Kansas forward Marcus Morris was named to the 2010-11 Naismith Trophy preseason watch list, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Tuesday.
The Naismith Trophy will be awarded at the Final Four in Houston.
Other big 12 players on the list: Alec Burks, Colorado; Kim English, Missouri; Perry Jones, Baylor; and Jacob Pullen, Kansas State.