All signs point to Kansas basketball Bill Self staying busy recruiting and recovering after recent heart procedure
The public concern for Kansas basketball coach Bill Self makes total sense.
Not only do countless KU fans love and admire the Jayhawks’ Hall of Fame head coach, but his personality and charisma have created a connection to the KU fan base that makes him feel like family to many people.
And if you had a family member who had just missed work to have a heart procedure, you’d probably be worried about him, as well.
How’s he doing? How does he feel? When can he go back to work? How long does he have to take it easy?
All of those questions, and many others, have been on the minds of Kansas basketball fans during the past several weeks, with Self missing the final five games of the season and keeping a pretty low profile for 22 straight days.
Various media outlets, including this one, have asked about Self’s condition and inquired about when he might be available to do his next interview.
The answer, appropriately and predictably, has been whenever he is ready to do so.
Works for me. Doesn’t work for everyone.
The growing hysteria surrounding Self’s health and future is downright mind-blowing on social media and message boards all over the internet, even when you consider how strongly people feel about the head Jayhawk.
I’ve had multiple emails — yes, multiple — actually ask me if Self is even alive. And several others, along with a number of messages on Twitter, have borderline begged me to provide some kind of an update on how Self is doing.
Some of them have been kind. Others have used harsh language and wild assumptions. And the rest have fallen somewhere in between.
I get it. There’s obviously a lot to talk about with the Kansas basketball program right now. But there’s also plenty of time to allow Self to get back to full strength before getting into it. The only time I can recall that Self has actually held a season wrap-up type of press conference came in 2008 and 2022, when the Jayhawks won national titles and the NCAA required him to do so.
I’m confident that sometime in the fairly near future we’ll get his thoughts on everything that happened with the program this month along with an update on his health.
In the meantime, there are clues that provide a glimpse into what’s going on with Self right now — how he’s doing and what he’s been up to.
Here are the important parts of that picture.
• When you consider the fact that there were nearly daily updates on Self’s status, recovery and condition during the Jayhawks’ stay in Des Moines, Iowa, it’s actually only been 13 days since we last heard something about how he was doing. All of the talk then, including from the horse’s mouth itself, was focused on him getting stronger and feeling better every day. Two weeks from that time isn’t actually that long, and, if you think about it, these past two weeks have been the first two weeks since Self’s heart issue surfaced on March 8 that he did not have the stress of the season and trying to fight to get back for his team as a factor in his recovery. Two weeks.
• The recent departures of five Jayhawks into the transfer portal have absolutely nothing to do with Self’s condition. Each player met with Self individually in some manner before making his decision to leave, and they’re all leaving KU in search of a different opportunity and a fresh start. Nothing more, nothing less. As I wrote last week, those guys leaving looks like a win-win for all parties involved.
• On the flip side of that reality, Self also now has some work to do to fill the openings on his own roster for the 2023-24 season. He currently needs to fill three spots on the roster and would have more to fill if anyone else decides to leave. All signs — including comments from a player or two actually in the transfer portal — point to him having spent plenty of time on that in the past week or so, be it through Zoom calls or whatever else is required on the transfer portal recruiting trail. Shay Wildeboor, of Rivals site JayhawkSlant.com, reported that Temple big man Jamille Reynolds and Wyoming forward Graham Ike, told him that the entire Kansas coaching staff was a part of their recent Zoom calls. Reynolds told Wildeboor that Self was present and that it was the best call he had had with a coach to date. Wildeboor also reported that Western Kentucky guard Dayvion McKnight told him specifically that Self was on his Zoom call.
• Thursday marked the start of a recruiting dead period, which will run through April 6 (next Thursday), so even that will likely slow down for Self over the next week or so, as well.
• This last one might be the one that brings many of you the biggest sense of calm. The team’s annual postseason banquet is scheduled for next Thursday. My guess is that Self will be there.
The bottom line is this: At least to me, it seems perfectly OK, even encouraged and sometimes required, for a 60-year-old man who just had a heart procedure to take it easy for a few weeks following the procedure.
It seems like celebrating the fact that Self has been able to do that instead of jumping to conclusions about his future or his health would be the easier way to go, even if the intentions that have led to heightened levels of worry are out of genuine concern for his well-being.