MAYETTA — The last week of the spring signing period figures to be a huge one for Kansas University’s men’s basketball team.
“How we do could very well determine whether or not we have a chance to win the league next year or have a chance to just keep our head above water,” KU coach Bill Self said Sunday, speaking in generalities of today through Wednesday, the last three days of the signing period.
“If we are able to finish strong, we’ll be good. ... There’s not many guys left out there that can really play because everybody signed (early). We just happen to be recruiting three or four of them. We still have three kids we’ve got to sign, or two kids at least.”
Self can’t talk about specific prospects in accordance with NCAA rules.
It’s common knowledge, however, that the Jayhawks are pursuing: No. 10-ranked DeAndre Daniels, a 6-foot-8 forward from IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla., who is considering KU, Texas and Duke; No. 24 Trevor Lacey, a 6-3 combo guard from Butler High in Huntsville, Ala., considering KU, Kentucky, Alabama and Auburn; and No. 141 Jamari Traylor, a 6-7 forward from IMG considering KU, Oklahoma State, Indiana and Texas Tech.
Self said he’d never gone this late in the process with so many players still undecided.
“It’s been weird,” he said. “We’ve had kids sign late before, (but) I haven’t had an experience where the kids we are recruiting have no intention of doing anything early. That’s OK. Everybody has different game plans in recruiting. Some like to sign early. Some like to wait to see how everything plays out, which I think can be smart at times.
“I don’t think I’ve been in a situation where three or four kids you really want all decide, ‘Hey we’re going to wait until the end of the signing period.’ We need to hit a home run late, but I think we are in a position to do so, but it hasn’t happened yet.”
Self said he thought the Jayhawks, “were in pretty good shape with the junior recruiting class.”
So it’s a matter of finalizing this year’s roster — he has four scholarships available —then moving on to the Class of 2012.
“Nobody is pulling our chain. Nobody is pulling the other schools’ chain. It’s a situation ... we have the Charlie Villanueva kid we had at Illinois. He never signed. It’s why he ended up going to Connecticut because there were some things that happened late.
“It’s really not frustrating, but it is a little nerve-wracking because we know how important it is to lock these last couple up.”
Players actually do not have to sign letters-of-intent. They can sign financial-aid documents upon reporting to campus.
Lacey says he’ll announce his college choice at 2 p.m. Wednesday. Daniels and Traylor have not yet announced their plans.
“Certainly there’s a variety of reasons why maybe they haven’t signed yet,” Self said, again not mentioning anybody by name. “In their world, they are valid reasons. I’m not going to try to convince them to hurry up and sign. Hopefully, as it plays out we’ll have a chance to wear on them a little bit in a very positive way. Other people are trying very hard, too. The schools that have one or two scholarships left would love to have these kids.”
KU already has landed guards Ben McLemore and Naadir Tharpe and forward Braeden Anderson.
“We have playing time to offer, but it’s not going to be easy for anybody to come in and beat out guys who are returning. They will have to come in and work and perform to have a chance to play a lot,” Self said.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who has completed his recruiting for the upcoming season, said at Sunday’s Celebrity Skins Game: “With four scholarships this time of year, it can’t be comfortable (for Self), but I have a feeling he and his staff will figure it out.
“They will be a fun team to watch. Like I said, I think they were the best team in the country this year, but college basketball, the one game and you are out is not always conducive to having the best team win. I’ve been there before myself.”
Eric Sorrentino takes a look at KU's quest for its eighth conference championship in a row in the latest Conference Chatter.