Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
With the addition of Hunter Dickinson, Kansas coach Bill Self loves his team but he’s not done yet
By ADAM ZAGORIACHICAGO — Kansas coach Bill Self landed the No. 1 player in the transfer portal in former Michigan big man Hunter Dickinsonand has the No. 1 transfer class in the nation, according to 247Sports.com.
He likes his team an awful lot going into the 2023-24 season, but he isn’t done yet.
“We’re happy with where we’re at,” Self told ZAGSBLOG Wednesday while watching his players at the NBA Draft Combine at Wintrust Arena.
“Between Hunter Dickinson and Arterio Morris (Texas) and Nick Timberlake (Towson) and Parker Braun (Santa Clara), that to me is pretty good but we need one more probably. Probably a tall guard, a wing.
“I think you can never have too much shooting, and I’d like to get one more if at all possible. But I like our roster.”
Creighton’s Arthur Kaluma and Tennessee’s Julian Phillips both fit the bill and, coincidentally, are both at the NBA Combine as well as being in the transfer portal.
The 6-foot-7 Phillips is the projected No. 36 pick by Tankathon.com, while ESPN.com has him at No. 53. The 6-7 Kaluma, one of three Creighton players at the Combine along with Ryan Kalkbrenner and Trey Alexander, is not projected on either mock after averaging 11.8 points and 6.0 rebounds as a sophomore.
The Jayhawks missed out last week on five-star former Duke commit Mackenze Mgbakowhen he committed to Indiana, but Self said Indiana might be a better fit for him.
Kansas lost several players to the portal, too, in bigs Ernest Udeh, who visited Duke this week, andZuby Ejiofor(St. John’s), along with guards Bobby Pettiford (East Carolina), M.J. Rice (N.C. State) and Kyle Cuffe, who is expected to annouce Thursday.
Only two players are returning from last season in forward KJ Adams and guard Dajuan Harris. Kansas also adds freshmen Elmarko Jackson, Chris Johnson, Jamari McDowell and Marcus Adams.
As for the Combine, Gradey Dick, Jalen Wilson and Kevin McCullar were all invited but only Wilson and McCullar are competing. Dick is a projected lottery pick and doesn’t need to play here.
Wilson is projected at No. 37 by ESPN, while McCullar is at No. 54 and could potentially return to school.
Still, landing Dickinson over Villanova, Maryland, Kentucky and Georgetown was huge for the Jayhawks. Dickinson has since indicated NIL played a huge role in his decision, while some industry sources say Kansas offered him $2 million annually.
“The people hating on me would leave their job right now for a $10,000 increase,” Dickinson said on his “Roundball” podcats. “I got, at Michigan, less than six figures. I got less than six figures at Michigan for the year.”
Self likes to play four-out and one-in, and can now center his offense around Dickinson, who averaged 18.5 points and 9.0 rebounds, as he seeks his third national championship and second in three years.
“The perfect way for me to play is play position-less on the perimeter and have one guy to play around,” Self said. “So last year we didn’t really have a big guy and our guy [Adams] did a great job playing out of position.
“But now with Hunter we got a guy that I think legitimately can be a first-team All-American. I think he legitimately has a chance to average 20, and if he does that, then the dynamics of our team changes overnight and I think we could be pretty good.”
KANSAS TO FACE UCONN IN BATTLE OF LAST TWO NATIONAL CHAMPIONS
Kansas will host reigning national champion UConn in the Big East/Big 12 Battle and will also face 2021 national champion Baylor in league play.
“So that’s the last three national champions, we play two of them,” Self said, “But Connecticut obviously will be a ridiculously tough game, but it’s in Allen so at least we got it at our place.”
Kansas coached against Dan Hurley when he was at Rhode Island.
“And I recruited enough of his players and didn’t get them to know that I know he can coach,” Self said.
“And that team he had this season, I told Danny after the season that I said, Very rarely do you look at a team and say no weaknesses. Defensive rebounding, team defense, individual defense, length, play-making and of course they can throw it to two big guys, they can score. So I thought his team this year was fabulous.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.