Recruiting hot topic for KU coach Bill Self

Kansas head coach Bill Self introduces members of his staff during the KU men's basketball banquet Monday, April 11, 2011 at the Holiday Inn Lawrence.

Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self, who for eight years has been an active member of the Lawrence community, meets his fair share of townspeople almost every day.

Many aren’t shy about asking him about a part of his job that doesn’t involve coaching.

That’d be recruiting.

“I’d say it’s a good topic of conversation. Recruiting is like a sport in itself,” Self said Tuesday. “Yesterday, probably three or four people at least asked me, ‘Hey what’s the latest?’ Or this or that. All that does is tell me people around here care.”

Fans currently want to know the status of No. 10-rated prospect DeAndre Daniels, who let last Wednesday’s final day of the signing period pass without choosing KU, Texas or Oregon.

Truth be known, nobody knows when the 6-8 forward from IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla., will select a school.

“In a perfect world, you don’t want to have to sign kids late,” said Self, who did not discuss Daniels specifically Tuesday in accordance with NCAA rules.

“But let’s just call it like it is. We felt like we were going to get Ben McLemore (as far back as) last year.”’s No. 34-rated player signed with KU in April after Ben finally convinced his mom, a Missouri fan, that KU was the place to be. KU fans may have sweated that one out, the coaches not so much.

“The steal of the group, Naadir (Tharpe, No. 92 rated player from Worcester, Mass.) jumped on board early (signing in November),” Self said of the point guard.

“With the (Morris) twins, although we thought we could possibly lose two, we thought the percentage play was we’d lose one. Their both leaving (for NBA) kind of left us scrambling a little bit. Fortunately we were able to sign a couple good kids late (forwards Braeden Anderson, Jamari Traylor) that we wouldn’t have recruited early because we wouldn’t have known of their availability.”

So KU’s class of 2011 currently stands at four and could grow to five.

“We hope to still get one more. If we are able to do so, I’d rank our class up there as a big success,” Self said. “It’s just taken a long time to do so.”

With KU losing much-publicized recruiting battles for the likes of Harrison Barnes, Josiah Turner, Michael Snaer, Terrence Jones, Daniel Orton, LeBryan Nash, Angelo Chol and Trevor Lacey the last two years, there’s been a perception KU has struggled in recruiting.

Self, who has directed KU to seven straight conference titles as well as the 2008 national title, does not necessarily agree.

After all, last year he signed the country’s No. 1 recruit in Josh Selby, he has a budding star in McLemore and still might land Daniels.

“We’ve gotten our fair share of guys, no question, but it’s fair to say we missed out on a couple guys early this year and a couple guys last year. So did Duke, Michigan State, Connecticut, Texas. That’s the way it is for everybody,” Self said.

“Everybody misses. We have not got some guys we thought we were in great shape with. The thing about it, other people work hard, too. That’s recruiting.

“The tendency is with recruiting, when you don’t get a guy, people say somebody cheated or ‘we didn’t want ’em anymore.’ That hasn’t been the case. These respective kids have picked different schools for different reasons. We certainly respect that. We’re not crazy about it, but we respect it. It’s just part of the business.”

And one other thing about recruiting …

“If you set your goals pretty high, you probably will be told ‘no’ more than ‘yes,'” Self said, adding that he and his staff will continue to target the best high school players in the country.

He said he has a lot to sell at tradition-rich KU, a place he’s piled up 237 wins against 46 losses (.837) in eight campaigns.

“We love it here. Certainly we’ve doubled more than anywhere else we’ve been,” said Self, who coached three years at Illinois, three at Tulsa and four at Oral Roberts. “Where do you go from Kansas? It’s such a good job. To me this is as good as it gets in college basketball.”

If he gets sick of recruiting — and Self said Tuesday he still enjoys most parts of recruiting — there’s always the NBA.

“I don’t know,” Self said, asked if he thinks he’ll ever coach in the pros. “I wouldn’t think so, but I learned through past experiences never to say never. I’m not interested in that right now at all. I’m a college guy. I think my job at Kansas is better than some of the jobs in the NBA. I love it here. I can’t envision me being anywhere else right now. I am not interested in any other job. There’s not many places like this.”

Self — he said he really likes new athletic director Sheahon Zenger — “I think he’s going to be great” — right now is focusing on adding another piece in recruiting then try for league title No. 8 in a row.

“I am real excited about the challenge of next year, trying to figure out a way to lose seven guys and not take a step backward at all. That’s my challenge right now that I’m going to enjoy.”