NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Bill Self sat in the restaurant at the Augusta Marriott and couldn’t stop smiling. It was one of those smirks you see from someone who has gotten away with something.
In a way, Self has. Despite winning 98 games over the past three years and going to the national title game, an Elite Eight and a Sweet 16, he was well aware that recruiting wasn’t up to par. Not with what’s expected in Lawrence, Kan.
Over a three-year span, four players transferred out of the program (none were good enough to play key roles for the Kansas Jayhawks) and there have been just a pair of McDonald’s All Americans added. That’s subpar by KU standards.
Besides Josh Selby, who turned out to be a bust, the highest-rated recruit Self had brought to Lawrence in the past three years was Perry Ellis, who made the McDonald’s Game despite being ranked No. 35 in the nation (yes, recruiting analysts missed on Ben McLemore). Royce Woolridge (Washington State), Merv Lindsay (New Mexico), Anrio Adams (Ohio) and Zach Peters (Arizona) all bolted, and there were also players such as Jamari Traylor, Naadir Tharpe, Landen Lucas and even Andrew White, who are supporting pieces (at best) for an elite program such as Kansas.
Self is smiling now because he knows the talent level in Lawrence is finally where it should be again -- and that’s not solely because of the arrival of the No. 1 recruit in the nation, Canadian forward Andrew Wiggins.