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Believe it or not, it's time for KU basketball media day...
Here's a quick video of a few of the Jayhawks answering some random questions at today's media day at Allen Fieldhouse:
Here's our media day photo gallery:
Complete Bill Self audio from today's media day news conference:
KU coach Bill Self, dressed in a suit and tie, is addressing the media at Allen Fieldhouse right now.
Players will speak to the media on the Fieldhouse floor at 3:55 and we'll have photos, video and stories from that later on.
For those following along below, I just tried to go as fast as I could with these notes, so everything you're reading is being said by Self. I'm not adding any of my thoughts into this, so when it says "I" that's Self talking. Hopefully that's not too confusing.
Self on the hype for this season:
From what I can tell, this is the most anticipated start of the season we've had since I've been here. Based on what people have told me, there seems to be no shortage of anticipation and ticket sales were hot. In large part, Self believes the hype is because of the unknown with the quality recruiting class.
What he knows about this team:
This team is different than all the teams we've had. We're as deep as we've ever been, we're got as many good players in the gym as we've ever had and we're very long. Can play with five or six bigs if need be. Haven't had that in the past. Self says the team could play with more intensity because of depth, especially defensively. We are talented but by no means do we know how to play or are we ready to play.
Self on Joel Embiid:
He's got the best feet. When you watch him play, you'll think you're watching a 6-footer, almost like a young Hakeem Olajuwon. Long ways to go from strength and toughness standpoint to be able to play a ton of minutes, but he can move.
Self on Andrew Wiggins
Adding Wiggins brought instant attention to the program, especially nationally and for the people who wondered if KU could land the top-tier guys. Wiggins is still a freshman, though. He has a chance to become a great player, but he's not a great player yet. He's a great prospect and hopefully he can develop and becoming a great player very quickly.
Self says Wiggins has shown flashes of dominance in high school but not consistently and as reliably. He needs to learn how to bring that vibe all the time instead of turning it on and off throughout a game. He could be our best defender, our best shot blocker, our best lane runner, he could be a lot of things. But if he doesn't do it every possession, he won't be any of those things.
He's a 10. All of our young kids have been 10s. If there is stubbornness, it's strictly from a competitive standpoint.
Self on Conner Frankamp:
He's a shooter even more than a scorer and he'll certainly have the green light for us, but he could labor more in college to get his shots off as often, which could make the adjustment a little tougher.
Self on early start to this season:
I'm a fan of it this year. If we have a bunch of guys returning, I won't be as big a fan of it. But he likes it because it allows the coaches to ease the new guys into the flow -- a couple days on a couple days off. There's no reason to have 3.5 hour practices in September. The early start allows KU to teach more early and then the guys will be in a better position to be ready for practice 1 in November.
On Frank Mason pushing Naadir Tharpe
There's no question he can push Naadir and Naadir knows that. He's tough, he's a pit bull, but does he know how to lead a team and all that stuff? He's in a battle for playing time with Naadir but he has to prove he can lead a team.
Self on Perry Ellis:
He could easily be our leading scorer this season, but he could also be our fourth leading scorer. He's been great this offseason and I think he'll be ready to take the next step. He was great last year from February on, after being a really, really good high school guy and struggling early on.
Self on this team's vocal leaders:
I'd said Naadir and Tarik Black are probably our best vocal leaders. Everybody can do it in some way on this team, but I don't think guys can be great leaders unless they're vocal and can talk.
Self on Wayne Selden:
He's probably as versatile as any guy we have. Can play 2 maybe 3 spots and even could be an emergency point guard if need be. Wayne's a guy that physically can use his strength to offset other peoples'. He's probably as strong a freshman guard as we've had here.
Self on living up to the hype and expectations:
That's not something we've really labored with in the past because we haven't had as many people saying as many good things about a bunch of guys they've never seen play. If we can focus on us begin good, it'll work. And that has to be a priority over individuals being good. That's not how it works here.
Self on pressure:
Since I've been here, I've never felt any pressure (he laughs).... I think there's always pressure at a place like this, both to win and to develop guys, but I don't think there's any extra pressure this year by any means. Is there pressure for us to be good? There is every year. But the ultimate responsibility for these guys to be good falls on the individuals. They have to want to work. And if this group wants to work I think they have a chance to be very happy at the end of the season.
Self on Tarik Black's role:
He'll have a chance to start and play a lot. Not very often you recruit a senior who comes in and is already respected enough to be the leader of the big guys. I'm expecting a big year from him.
Self on this team's ceiling:
We've had some pretty good teams. The last 7 years we've averaged 33 wins and if this team gets to 33 wins that would be unbelievable given how tough the schedule is. Right now, I don't think we're even close to being in the same conversation with some of the best teams to come through here, but if they work and develop, they could get into that conversation.
Self on the tough early season schedule:
I do like the fact that we're playing a hard schedule. Hard schedules expose some things so you can't get by with hiding things. I don't think any team in America has a schedule like we have, especially early.
Self on Perry Ellis and Andrew Wiggins' quiet nature
Perry takes quiet to a whole different level. You could be a room with Perry and it's possible that nobody would talk in 24 hours. Andrew is definitely more laid back, but he's not quite on the same quietness level as Perry. Everybody on the team needs to work on becoming better communicators.
Self joked that Perry feels comfortable around him now and says, "He'll come into my office and we'll have a 30 or 45 second conversation, which is way longer than most we had last year."
Self on red-shirt possibilities:
I wouldn't be surprised if one guy does. It won't be because we tell anyone he has to, but if it's best for them and their family, that could happen. Did not say who that might be but said after seeing how it worked out for Jeff Withey and Travis Releford, he thinks more should want to do that.
Self on Landen Lucas:
He got much more athletic during his red-shirt year and he's going to be a solid player here at KU. I could not be more pleased with where he is at this point in his career compared to where I thought he'd be.
Self on freshmen:
Wayne Selden's ready to be a player because he's physically there. Greene and Frankamp also are ready because one is athletic as all get-out and the other is probably as good a pure shooter as their is anywhere in America. This would've been a great class even without Andrew Wiggins, but that certainly was icing on the cake.
Self on Frank Mason:
Here's a guy that signed with Towson out of high school but he didn't qualify and had to go to prep school and then we're begging him to come here. He's got a lot of fire in his belly and he's excited to be here. He's without question one of the two or three most athletic guys on our team and you guys will see that.
Self on team's depth and how many he'll play:
It could be a year where we play a solid nine in every big game, which we haven't done is season's past. And it could be a different nine from time to time depending on how things play out.
Good afternoon KU fans and welcome to our coverage of this year's KU basketball media day.
Tom Keegan, Gary Bedore and I are at Allen Fieldhouse today to find out as much as we can about this year's very new and very young team.
Follow along throughout the afternoon for updates from media day, including notable quotes and audio from head coach Bill Self, notes from the players and photo galleries of all the fun.
Self is scheduled to speak to the media at 3:25 p.m. so check back any time after that for all of the day's news and notes...