It’s July and that means one thing to college basketball coaches across the country – recruiting. One day away from hitting the road, KU head coach Bill Self knows how important the class of 2008 is for the Jayhawks.
“We’ve been working on the 2008 class since ’06. We knew this was going to be a huge year for us. This is as important as a recruiting class this is right there equal to the Julian (Wright), Brandon (Rush), and Mario (Chalmers) recruiting class,” said Self referring to his class of 2005.
If the class of 2007 was about quality, the 2008 class will be about quantity AND quality for Self and his staff.
“We’ll probably sign six or seven guys and we just gotta make sure that three or four of them have a chance to have impacts very similar to that of the 2004 class,” Self told Phog.net
Self was referring to the class he considers just as important as his class of Wright, Rush, Chalmers – the class of 2004. That class included current seniors Russell Robinson, Sasha Kaun, and Darnell Jackson. It was not a class of McDonald’s All-Americans, but it was a critical one for Self and his staff to keep the ball rolling in Lawrence after losing a ton of experience.
“It kind of bridged the gap it kind of gave us a chance to buy some time that first year. We just happened to win the league and the tournament,” said Self reflecting on a team that finished 23-7, and 12-4 in the Big 12 conference
Last season the Jayhawks lost only one player after reaching the Elite 8. With five key seniors on the roster, and a talent-laden roster, Self knows he won’t be that lucky when next season concludes. Arthur contemplated turning pro but decided to return – he’s expected to have a monster year and play a much bigger role next season. This could also be the year that Chalmers finally decides to test the waters.
“Hopefully we’ll have a great year this year but next year’s class – that will be a transition period there’s no doubt about that,” concluded Self.
Entering the summer evaluation period Self and his staff have received just one commitment - 6-4 shooting guard Travis Releford. Releford is a highly-rated member of the class of 2008, but Self knows there’s still plenty of work to do.
“I think it never hurts to get somebody early,” Self continued. “I don’t really consider this time of year that early to be honest with you. A lot of guys out there have gotten multiple commitments this year and we haven’t.”
“We’re working on it but the guys we are recruiting it’s a little bit different at Kansas because you don’t have the access to get guys here whenever they want to. So when you look at recruiting really the only time these guys can get to campus in large part is, unless your local, is in the fall. We’re just hoping everyone hangs on for recruiting until the fall and so we can get them here on campus,” Self stated.
When you’re looking to sign six to seven guys, the list of potential prospects is long. KU’s recruiting efforts already took a big hit when 6-6 swingman DeAndre Liggins committed to Kentucky. The Chicago area star was highly coveted by the KU staff.
Self has plenty of ties in Chicago and has certainly recruited some terrific talent from the state of Illinois – Julian Wright and most recently Sherron Collins to name a couple. Although KU fell short with Liggins, expect KU to keep an eye on this hotbed area.
“I don’t know if recruiting an area if you’re Kansas, is imperative because we dabble everywhere,” Self said when asked if the Jayhawks would look to continue to recruit out of Chicago.
“It’s so nice to have that area where you feel like you go every other year and get a great prospect out of there,” continued Self. ”We need to build off Julian and Sherron’s success that they’ve had here and we have a lot of contacts there so I think even though we’re not going to spend all our time in Chicago, I think Chicago is a great area for us.”
It should be an interesting and active summer for the KU staff and for Jayhawk fans.