Self details health scare, building roster for 2023-24

FILE: Kansas coach Bill Self yells to the team during the first half of an NCAA college...
FILE: Kansas coach Bill Self yells to the team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Harvard, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)(Orlin Wagner | AP)
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 4:14 PM CDT
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (KCTV) - After a clearer picture of his roster for the 2023-24 season has come into focus in recent days, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on The Field of 68 Thursday to share his thoughts on his health and the outlook of his program.

Self said that his recent health scare -- which forced him off the sidelines during the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments this past March -- forced him to reevaluate his career. He revealed that the absence due to a heart issue had been an issue for him since the fall. Then, he said he had an aortic valve replaced with a common procedure but didn’t ever feel much better. Self said the episode in March “became much more than what it had been,” but has forced him to think and value what he eats and how he exercises.

“I have thought about it but it was more that it was forced on me to think about it here recently,” Self told co-hosts Rob Dauster and Jeff Goodman when asked about whether he’s contemplated how long he wants to coach. “I took about a month or six weeks, reflected, and thought a lot about it, and the one thing I have found out in the time I had my episode was how much I missed it.

“Sometimes, we make decisions and then buyer’s remorse kicks in after you make the move. In this particular situation, I think it helped me because I think guys or ladies get out of what they’re doing and wish they hadn’t done it. Just like there are some people that stay too long and wish they hadn’t, I think the opposite comes into play. With me, I think it kind of made my long-term decision clearer that I missed this and I enjoy it.”

In the evolving landscape of college basketball, Self said the transfer portal has its pros and cons. This off-season, the Jayhawks lost eight players to the transfer portal and added four, including 24/7 Sports’ No. 1 ranked portal target in former Michigan center Hunter Dickinson.

“As much as today’s game has changed and as much uncertainty as there is in college basketball and all the things going on,” Self said, “I think in some ways it has kind of reenergized me because if you don’t change you’re going to get left behind.”

Part of the re-energization of Self comes from the news he received Wednesday morning when do-it-all wing Kevin McCullar declared his intentions to return to Kansas for a super senior season.

“It means a ton for our team,” he said. “Our roster has kind of come together nicely since the season has been over.”

The Jayhawks added Dickinson, Towson transfer Nick Timberlake, Texas transfer Arterio Morris and Santa Clara center Parker Braun. The latter addition is the brother of former Jayhawk Christian Braun and a local product out of Blue Valley Northwest High School.

“People are sleeping on this guy. I mean, he’s 6-foot-10 and he’s an athlete,” Self said of Braun, who started his career at Missouri in 2018-19. “Now granted, his role won’t be near as big with us as what it would be if he was starting and playing 30 minutes a game, but I look around and I’m thinking wow that’s pretty good at the five spot.”

Self said ultimately the roster he’s built might lack a little bit of shooting, but the pieces should allow KU to play various ways.

“I’m pretty excited about getting creative,” Self said ahead of his 21st season at KU. “Maybe it’ll test my ability to come up with some new stuff, which I’m pretty fired up about.”