After coming off two recruiting classes that most experts ranked among the best in the nation, Bill Self showed no letdown in 2006. Darrell Arthur provided the icing on the cake as yet another talented trio will pack their bags for Lawrence. So you can understand why it would be easy for the KU head coach to just kick his feet up and let out a big sigh of relief after another job well-done.
But that’s simply not the case, at least not in this day and age.
It’s usually not long before college hoops most talented players trade in their backpacks for the glitz and glamour of the NBA – seemingly all before humming a full verse of their school’s fight song. So as a result, head coaches are taught to hope for the best and assume the worst, and Self is no different.
“We’re preparing for the worst. We’re not preparing for a perfect world that everybody will come back because we don’t think that’s realistic,” stated Self.
Worst-case scenario, the Jayhawks will lose five players to the NBA, though Self mentioned he doesn’t “think that will happen.” The good news is that if KU does in fact lose five players to early entry, then something will have gone very right next season. It’s likely those players would be conversing about how wonderful ending their college careers on a high note would be.
For Self and his staff it’s all about preparation and not being caught off guard. With that in mind, KU is formulating a plan for the class of 2007.
“We’re approaching it as if we’re going to lose two to early entry. Whatever number we have available next year – like right now we have one and that’s obviously been given out – we’re going to approach it like we have two more. I don’t think that’s far-fetched at all,” said Self in a phone interview on Wednesday. “I think that’s probably pretty reasonable and from our standpoint maybe even potentially a little short of what potentially could happen.”
Though most of KU’s plan is based on potential, the idea of receiving early commitments is certainly not out of the question. Self stressed ’07 is not a wait-and-see scenario.
“We’re not thinking that way at all. We feel like that we know that we will lose two and will go ahead and recruit as if the two are available today,” according to Self. “There could be something that happens with injury but that would be the only way that anything would change.”
With big man Cole Aldrich already committed to wear the crimson and blue, Self will put the emphasis on adding a wing player, because as he so eloquently put it, “When Brandon said he was coming back, he didn’t say he was coming back for three more years.”
“A wing would be the biggest priority. We’d be losing a lot of skill level and really could potentially lose a lot of skill level and also a tall defender,” Self continued. “Of the positions we probably feel we need to recruit the hardest – we probably need some perimeter shooting and we need a wing that’s tall enough to defend a three.”
So KU will continue to recruit hard and operate under the assumption that several talented players may leave for the pro ranks – a scenario Self will have to deal with despite the fact that not a single senior graces his current roster.
“I would certainly rather over recruit than not be prepared when probably the percentage play occurs,” said Self.