At least one aspect of conference realignment is ‘pretty ridiculous,’ says KU’s Self

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The Big 12 Conference, which is set to expand from 10 schools to 14 during the 2023-24 school year, then shrink to 12 the following season, has been active during this current era of realignment.

BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston will join KU, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, TCU, West Virginia, Texas and Oklahoma for the next school year with rumors of the league already looking at possible candidates to replace OU and Texas — schools that leave for the SEC starting in the 2024-25 campaign.

“I am not a fan of realignment in general over time. I think it’s pretty ridiculous that you’ve got Maryland and Rutgers in the Big Ten and you have UCLA and USC in the Big Ten, stretching that (from coast to coast),” Kansas basketball coach Bill Self said Tuesday during a news conference held prior to his Dillon Lecture Series speech at Hutchinson Community College.

“You talk about realignment, let’s be real candid, it’s about money. It’s not about student-athlete welfare. It’s not about academics. When you are putting kids on planes to travel in non-football, basketball sports — softball or tennis — to travel those distances is going to be a strain, a grind on everybody. But in our situation with the Big 12, since this is the world we live in, we did well bringing in Central Florida, BYU, Cincinnati and of course Houston and all the great things that Kelvin (Sampson, UH hoops coach) has done there in recent time.”

Continued Self: “I think those four add to what is already the best basketball league in the country.”

Self the soap opera fan

Self was asked if he reflected much on his future in coaching during his recent stay in the hospital for a heart procedure.

“I wasn’t in the hospital that long. I think I was in there five days. That wasn’t where my thinking took place, in the hospital, because we played Thursday, Friday, Saturday (in the Big 12 tournament),” Self said. “And I was watching our team and focused on that even though I had nothing to do with what was going on with the team. I wasn’t thinking quite clearly enough where I could have helped anybody in that regard.

“Getting out is when I probably did most of my thinking because I had never considered myself to be the most active guy. But lying in bed at home — the soap opera is on TV and I’m trying to figure out which (soap) series I wanted to start (viewing).

“I went to Florida for a week (of recovery once KU was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by Arkansas on March 18) and I loved it. We’ve got a little place in Florida. I love our place in Florida, but getting up at 9 (a.m.), going for a walk and being back by 10:30, it was ‘OK, what am I going to do the rest of the day?’ Going to Home Goods and Home Depot multiple times I realized how much I love my job (at KU).”

Self continued.

“Not that I didn’t enjoy relaxing but that relaxing stuff is overrated after a certain period of time,” KU’s 20th-year coach said. “I think I realized I need to work. My work to me is fun every day, not because it’s basketball but because I’m around young people all the time. The one thing about being involved with college kids, they always stay young, so I am around young people all the time which I think helps keep me not elderly.”

Asked if he found a soap opera to his liking while in Florida, Self said: “No, no. When I was in school (at Oklahoma State in 1980s) I’d say ‘General Hospital.’ You old timers will probably remember ‘Luke and Laura (G.H. stars).’ I don’t know any now.”

Reflecting on two national titles

Self has led KU to a pair of national titles, in 2008 and 2022.

“I would say 2008 to me was probably needed more,” Self said of KU winning its first title since 1988.

“We had an unbelievable team. That team was good enough and deserving enough to win a national championship when college basketball was stocked. We had to be elite. There were four No. 1 seeds in the Final Four (KU, Memphis, North Carolina, UCLA). There was a lot of euphoria with that one, also a little relief. The one in ’22 was totally unexpected. I never thought we had a team that would just run through that thing.

“The best thing about the ’22 team more than the ’08 team, it was a player-coached team more than a coach-coached team. I felt I had total control of the locker room every day without having to be in control. The kids in ’08 were confident, cocky, tough (but) that team had seven NBA players on it. In ’22 we had the same things — Ochai (Agbaji) and C.B. (Christian Braun) and hopefully J-Will (Jalen Wilson) will make it, (but) it was not near the collection of natural talent as the 2008 team had.”

Self on Marcus Adams

Self was asked to comment on the recent signing of incoming freshman small forward Marcus Adams to a letter-of-intent.

Adams, 6-8, 205 pounds from Torrance, California, averaged 28.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game at Narbonne High School in 2022-23. He had three 40-point performances, including a 50-point, 21-rebound game.

Adams is ranked No. 36 in the Class of 2013 by

“Marcus is a guy that came on the scene late,” Self said of the player who recently reclassified from the recruiting Class of 2024 to ’23. “He’s good, very underrated, very under-recruited. At the end, everybody in the Pac-12 wanted him. UCLA and a lot of folks wanted him. He’s 6-8, I would say a lot like Jalen (Wilson) from a size standpoint. He’s probably a better shooter than Jalen. I’m not saying a better player because Jalen turned out to be an unbelievable player. In two high school games he made 13 and 11 threes. He’s 6-8 and can play above the rim. I’m real excited about him.”

Self cannot comment on the squad’s latest edition, Nick Timberlake, until his paperwork is processed by KU’s compliance office.