March 26, 2007
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Kansas coach Bill Self is going to ask his players to spend time in the weight room and come back bigger and stronger next year.
But first, like everyone else connected with the program, he has to know who's coming back.
Just two days after UCLA ousted the top-seeded Jayhawks 68-55 in the regional finals, Self said he was planning to sit down with players being mentioned as possible first-round NBA picks and carefully plot what would be in their own best interests.
Sophomore Brandon Rush, who led the Jayhawks in scoring in a 33-5 season that included Big 12 regular-season and tournament championships, is most often mentioned as a possible early NBA entry. The others, including sophomores Julian Wright and Mario Chalmers, have said they are definitely planning to return for their junior year.
But players in their situation have also been known to change their minds.
"I'm going to visit with all our guys before I go to the Final Four," Self said in a teleconference Monday with reporters. "We'll get a game plan together."
Self said he had told his players all year he would not talk about their NBA prospects until the season was over.
"I do think that we'll need to investigate and look into some scenarios. Right now, I don't know how our guys are on most teams' boards. We'll just have to wait and see.
"I'm going to wait and talk to their families before I tell you what our game plan will be. We'll gather information and pass it along. We don't believe guys' minds are made up yet."
The school's approach, he said, would be for players to "do what's best for yourself and your family and we'll support you 100 percent. But don't make a bad decision and ruin a career."
The loss to the Bruins made Self 0-4 in regional finals as a head coach. He said he does not plan any major changes to his approach.
"When you're in the Elite Eight, you're probably playing a team that's comparable to you. It is disappointing that you can have a great season but it can end on such a disappointing note because the game is a very difficult one to lose with so much at stake," he said.
"We've knocked on the door several times. We're going to get through it one of these days. You've got to win a lot of big games to play in that game.
"I don't think we're far off."
Self also said that freshman point guard Sherron Collins, who faded in the last couple of weeks of the season, might need extensive rehab on a problem with his left knee. Self said the knee was actually giving Collins more trouble than the team had wanted anyone to know.
Collins did not score at all in the UCLA loss.
"We didn't let on, but Sherron played on one leg in California," Self said. "He noticeably limped. He fought it for three weeks. We'll do tests on him to see what he needs to do. It's a little more serious than we led everybody to believe. He'll have to take some time off. We hope it won't need surgery."