Kansas basketball coach Bill Self still believes underclassmen are testing NBA draft stock


Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has made one thing clear about NBA draft hopefuls and his players testing their draft stock every summer.

He is in favor of it.

Of course, Self, like any coach, would like to see his best players stay for four or even five seasons at Kansas. Their talent would increase KU’s chances of winning every year and that continuity would allow the Jayhawks to tap into the one thing that has served them well through their deepest tournaments – veteran players with good chemistry and familiarity coming together for a common goal.

But Self promises these guys when he recruits them – and their parents – that he will help them achieve their dream of playing in the NBA. And he’s never shown a desire to stand in their way when they’ve reached the point where they’re ready to take the leap. In fact, he outright told some guys who wanted to stay that they had to leave because it was the best decision for them and their careers.

“When testing started, I think all of us coaches were like, ‘Oh, if they test, they’re not coming back. We’re going to lose those guys,'” Self said during the ESPN broadcast. from last week’s combined scrums.

At least in Kansas — and many other schools as well — that didn’t turn out to be the case.

It was pretty obvious that guys like Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Josh Jackson, Ben McLemore and Thomas Robinson, among others, had to get into the draft when they did. Self was the first to tell each of them, and their lottery pick status validated the moves.

In recent years, however, KU’s preparation for the offseason draft has been full of successes for the Jayhawks.

This year alone, the decisions of Ochai Agbaji, Jalen Wilson and Remy Martin to return to college paved the way for Kansas to win a national title. These three players also helped their stock in the process.

Before that, you had Udoka Azubuike back for the 2019-20 season. All he did was become dominant in all aspects of the game and become a first-round pick.

Before that, Svi Mykhailiuk made his decision at the 11th hour in 2017 before deciding to return to KU for his senior season. This season, largely due to his ridiculous shot numbers and KU’s run to the 2018 Final Four, made Svi draft-worthy and made him between $5-6 million in his first four seasons in as a pro.

“From my perspective and my experiences with it, the tests have been positive,” Self said. “A lot of people have been nervous about testing their guys, but the testing has been positive because the feedback they get can make their career.”

Self is a firm believer that guys leave school at the right time, no matter when. And this recent experience with Agbaji going from a question mark draft to a potential lottery pick has only added to that belief.

“Everyone has their own timeline, so to speak,” Self said on the show when asked if Agbaji’s path could inspire and help future Jayhawks and other college basketball players in the game. their decisions. “And that of Och was not before this year. He was not well noted at the end (of high school). And it took him that long to mature and be at the point where he could have a career instead of having a cup of coffee.

I think that should help. I think it will be good for Kansas players for sure. I don’t know if it’s going to be good at the national level. But certainly for our guys, they will see the success (which he had) and they will realize it.

We know Agbaji remains in the draft – June 23 in New York – but what we need to know for sure now is whether Christian Braun and Jalen Wilson will do the same.

Both have until June 1 (next Wednesday) to remove their names from the draft pool in order to retain college eligibility for the 2022-23 season.


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