Bill Self has another reason to celebrate after landing Memphis transfer Tarik Black.
By TULLY CORCORANFS Southwest
Suddenly Bill Self is hot again.
The Kansas basketball coach had one of his best weeks ever last week, landing super-recruit Andrew Wiggins, who is one of the most celebrated high school basketball players of his generation. Then he started this week by grabbing one of the biggest-name transfers of the summer, forward
Tarik Black, who last played at Memphis.
The Wiggins coup needs no explaining. He's the best player in the country and some say the best since LeBron James or Kevin Durant. But the Jayhawks were losing all five starters off last year's Big 12 championship roster, including a probable top-five NBA draft pick in Ben McLemore, and another probable pick in center Jeff Withey. That left Kansas with only two or three returning players who had experience of any real significance.
In other words, Self needed a big summer.
Black gives Kansas the main thing it lacked after losing Jeff Withey and Kevin Young — a big man. Black is a 6-foot-9, 262-pound force of brute. He does not create his own shot and therefore won't fit in as an offensive force on the block for the Jayhawks, but they appear to have that element in rising sophomore Perry Ellis. What the Jayhawks needed was a rim protector/rebounder type and some depth at the position.
Which means it's another good week for Self, who has been the bridesmaid and not the bride with a few high-profile players over the last few seasons. His teams have always been excellent — he has won at least a share of every Big 12 championship since 2005 — and he has wound up with a large number of NBA prospects, but KU fans always felt like they were the big losers whenever one of these players would put on another school's hat at his signing-day ceremony. KU wound up with guys like Xavier Henry and Josh Selby when they decommitted from other schools, but it seemed like KU's disappointments were always televised.
For that reason, it was starting to feel like Bill Self wasn't a good recruiter, even though he routinely fielded some of the most talented teams in the country.
So this was a good week for Self. It feels like he has momentum and, suddenly, it looks like he might have another Big 12 champion.