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If Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self is worried about losing three possible first-round NBA draft picks — and seven players overall — from a dominant 35-3 league champion/Elite Eight team, well, he certainly didn’t act like it Thursday morning.
Speaking on the Big 12 coaches summer conference call, Self expressed confidence about KU’s chances of contending for an eighth straight league crown.
“I don’t think we’ll take a step backwards. I think we’ll take a step sideways and I think we’ll be a totally different-looking team than what we were this past year, but I am really excited,” Self said.
“My batteries are probably about as charged as they’ve been, because it is going to be a challenge. I feel it’s like the year after we won the national championship (2008). You lose six of your top seven or whatever it was and come back and have to figure out a way to win the league next year. That’s where we are at.”
Self, who said he may not be finished recruiting, has signed four incoming freshmen — guards Ben McLemore and Naadir Tharpe and forwards Braeden Anderson and Jamari Traylor.
“We’ve recruited pretty well. We haven’t hit a home run from a scouting service perspective, but I think we’ve got guys that fit what we need,” Self said. “We could still add another piece or two, but it is getting awfully late.”
He didn’t name names of any possible prospects in accordance with NCAA rules.
It’s been reported KU is on the list of schools of Andre Walker, a 6-foot-7 senior forward, who has graduated from Vanderbilt and has decided to play elsewhere his final season. He is free to attend any school without sitting out a year.
No other prospects have yet publicly mentioned KU as far as joining the program for the 2011-12 season.
“I think there’s been a handful of teams in America that’s lost a lot of guys, certainly in our league,” Self said. “Look at Texas, look at us as far as the loss of unbelievably important personnel to our success. We’ve had five guys leave early (for NBA) in the last couple years,” Self added, aware expectations have remained high.
“Kansas math is such when I got here, you lose Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich and all of a sudden you are supposed to get better. I never quite understood that. You could say the same thing losing some of the guys we’ve lost.”
Self was asked about a possible change in the one-and-done rule in the NBA’s next bargaining agreement.
“First and foremost, I would like to see kids be able to go out of high school, but I wish there was some program in place where not everybody could jump,” Self said. “I wish there was some committee saying, ‘OK if this kid is thought to be a certain pick then he would be allowed to go.’ There wouldn’t be bad decisions. Then after that, I wish we had the baseball rule (if player enrolls in college he must stay three years). If we don’t have the baseball rule, I wish it was a minimum of a two-year deal.”
Kruger talk: Self was asked about new Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger.
“Of all the coaches that I’ve followed, I think that Lon, without question, was the easiest one to follow,” said Self, who took over for Kruger at Illinois. “I’m not saying the other ones weren’t great (at KU, Oral Roberts and Tulsa), I’m not saying that at all.
“(At U of I) I went into a situation he is really a good guy, about as ego-less as any coach in our business can be. He was so into helping me help the kids that he coached at Illinois get better, (being) positive and I was able to take over a healthy program. Obviously I took over a healthy program here and other places as well. I thought that was the smoothest transition just because of how he is as a man. There are not many coaches out there that do as good a job as Lon Kruger.”
Kaleb in town: Kaleb Tarczewski, a 7-foot, 220-pound senior-to-be from St. Mark’s High in Southborough, Mass., is to be on campus today as part of an unofficial recruiting visit. Rivals.com’s No. 11-rated player has said he will visit North Carolina June 13-14 and Arizona June 20-21. His list also includes UConn, Duke, Florida, Indiana, West Virginia, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Boston College and Southern Cal.
Not so fast: Former KU guard Sherron Collins said on Twitter on Thursday night that he was not cut from Puerto Rican pro team Piratas de Quebradillas just one day after reporting.
Latinbask.com had indicated Thursday that Collins was cut after reporting overweight.