Bill Self talks Kansas roster at end-of-year banquet. Are more portal players coming?

An optimistic Bill Self says he “cannot wait” for the start of the 2024-25 season, his 22nd season as Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball coach.

“We’re going to get better. We’re going to add some great pieces. Our shortcomings will be addressed and we’ll be as good as we’ve ever been in the very, very, very near future,” Self said, speaking to several hundred fans and athletic department staff members at Thursday’s annual postseason awards banquet at Burge Union next to Allen Fieldhouse.

The Jayhawks went 23-11 this past season, tying for fifth in the Big 12 and advancing to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks lost to Gonzaga in a second-round game in Salt Lake City.

“I promise you, this (banquet) room will be packed double next year because of what’s getting ready to happen,” Self said, envisioning a much larger throng of fans after what he believes will be a stellar 2024-25 campaign.

Self — he currently has 12 scholarship players on the 2024-25 roster (a self imposed sanction over three years has limited KU to 12 scholarship players instead of 13) — indicated the Jayhawks, who have signed three incoming freshmen and two transfers from the portal, are not finished recruiting.

“We’ve got to add pieces. I’m looking at (it), whether it be three or four out of the portal,” he said.

The goal, he said, is to add “depth, athleticism, perimeter shooting, probably pretty much the obvious. Those are things in my opinion we certainly can get more athletic and can shoot the ball better beyond the arc.”

Self said senior big man Hunter Dickinson, who has one year of eligibility remaining, and freshman guard Johnny Furphy will soon announce if they are entering their names in the upcoming June NBA Draft.

KU at this time has returning scholarship players in Dickinson, Furphy, Dajuan Harris, Jamari McDowell, Elmarko Jackson, KJ Adams and Zach Clemence.

“A pretty good base,” Self said.

Self said that he has not had “serious” conversations with any current players about them perhaps deciding to enter the portal.

“I think the portal is pretty fluid, and as of now we’ve had nobody enter it. I’m not saying anybody will, but a lot of it may depend on how it goes with recruiting and that kind of stuff,” Self said.

“It’s still up in the air right now. I do feel good about our guys. They are working hard (during offseason workouts, which have started). As of now everybody is committed (and returning), but you don’t know how that will change based on recruiting and those sorts of things.”

He spoke of upcoming decisions of Furphy and Dickinson.

“They will make their own announcements when the time is right, but I think we know enough to work around the little bit that we know. But it just hasn’t become public yet what they are going to do,” Self said.

He was asked if KU would have time to wait on the two players if they decide to test the draft waters with the option of returning to school. The deadline to declare is April 28. The deadline to withdraw and return to school is May 29.

Last spring, Kevin McCullar entered his name in the draft but after working out for NBA teams announced plans to return to KU as late as May 24.

“I would say more than likely, yes (KU would have time to wait),” Self said. “We didn’t wait for Kevin. We just held the scholarship. So we could do the same thing, but if they (Furphy, Dickinson) declare, we will recruit like they are not going to be here. If we get them back it’d be a bonus.”

Self may have to wait a bit before he has a final talk with Furphy about his plans. He’s currently in his home country, Australia.

“He actually has a situation with his visa right now, and he’s trying to get that worked out,” Self said. “He will be making a decision some point in time soon to declare or to just not go in the draft at all. Whatever he decides would not surprise me. He deserves our support. What a year Johnny had.”

McCullar, who has used up his college eligibility, did not attend the banquet. He’s projected as a possible first-round pick in the June 26-27 draft.

“He is in California. He would be here (but) he can’t travel because of inflammation in his knee, because he’s done some (medical) procedures. He has to get right before the NBA (Combine, individual workouts) starts,” Self said.

Self praised McCullar, saying “he tried his (butt) off” in attempting to play with a bruised knee late in the regular season and postseason.

Of the future of junior forward Zach Clemence, who redshirted this past season, Self said: “I think a lot depends on what role he foresees himself having when the dust settles. Because the dust hasn’t settled (regarding recruiting) yet.”

He said Clemence had a great year on the scout team.

“It came from a mindset,” Self said. “He got a lot stronger, more physical, tougher, a lot more confident in large part because he got stronger and tougher.”

Junior forward KJ Adams, who has said he’ll return for a fourth season at KU, received the “Mr. Jayhawk” Award, which goes to KU’s player who best exemplifies “being a Jayhawk” on and off the court.

“I actually think he was the most improved player in our league this year after he won it last year,” Self said. “He did an unbelievable job, tough as nails. There’s not a bigger winner in America as KJ Adams.”