KANSAS CITY, Mo. — University of Kansas men’s basketball head coach Bill Self spoke to media members for the first time in almost a month on Wednesday and previewed what the roster could look like next season.
At least six players are not returning to the team. Guards Joe Yesufu, Bobby Pettiford Jr. and MJ Rice, alongside forwards Zach Clemence and Cam Martin, entered the transfer portal last month, while freshman guard Gradey Dick declared for the NBA Draft on March 31.
Star forward Jalen Wilson is also expected to declare for the draft after winning Big 12 Player of the Year while also being named All-Big 12 First Team and a semifinalist for the Naismith Player of the Year.
Self said he didn’t think Dick was a one-and-done player until his performance against Duke in the Champions Classic last November, when he scored 14 points on a 6/11 shooting performance.
“He just showed a glimpse of what he can be and his best ball is so far down the road,” Self said.
Regarding Wilson, Self thinks he’s reached his full potential in a Jayhawk uniform.
“He can’t be better than being a First-Team All-American, averaging 20 points a game,” Self said. “He’s done exactly what he dreamt to do.”
Kevin McCullar Jr. will go through the NBA Draft process as well, per Self. The 6-foot-6-inch, 210-pound guard is not unfamiliar with that process, as he tested the NBA Draft waters last summer.
“Last year, he had two or three opportunities that were guaranteed to him to (sign a two-way contract),” Self said.
Two-way contracts allow a player to sign a guaranteed deal with an NBA franchise and play for both its NBA professional team and its G-League affiliate.
The door is open for McCullar to come back, though.
“There’s no question that he could help himself by staying,” Self said.
If McCullar returns, he will be suiting up for his sixth season of Division I men’s basketball. McCullar redshirted his freshman year at Texas Tech, then spent the next three years there before transferring to Kansas prior to the start of the 2022-23 season.
Whether Kyle Cuffe Jr. returns to Kansas or not is unknown, according to Self. The combo guard redshirted his freshman year and only played six minutes the next season due to tearing his MCL and PCL in practice.
With the roster evolving for various reasons, from transfers to injuries, Self’s perspective on rebuilding the roster is clear.
“We’re approaching it like everybody’s gone,” Self said. “I think you have to.”
Self will focus on the transfer portal to help fill out the holes in the roster.
“We need a big guy that can go out and get 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds),” Self said.
This year’s recruiting class will be an emphasis as well. Three players, including five-star point guard Elmarko Jackson, have signed their letter of intent, according to 247Sports.
Four-star recruit Marcus Adams Jr. was set to be a part of the Jayhawks’ 2024 recruiting class but instead reclassified into the 2023 class.
Right now, the Jayhawks are ranked No. 7 in ESPN’s Way-Too-Early Top 25 men's college basketball rankings for the next season. However, Self thinks there’s still work to be done.
“I’m really hopeful that within weeks, everybody would say, ‘They should be ranked higher than a top 10 team,’” Self said.