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Thomas Robinson is obviously a huge loss, and it would be unrealistic to to expect someone to slide into his shoes and lead the team the way Robinson did last season. My high expectations for the Jayhawks is as much a product of their coach as it is of their roster.
Bill Self has proven for the past decade that he is on the short list in any discussion of best coach in the country. After elevating Illinois to a national power, Self transitioned to a Kansas program in desperate search of the national championship that had eluded it since Larry Brown’s final season in Lawrence in 1988.
After so many near-misses with Roy Williams, the KU faithful were desperate to regain their seat at the NCAA throne. Needless to say, Self has not disappointed the sky-high expectations of Rock Chalk Jayhawk. Eight consecutive Big 12 regular season championships, five Big 12 Tournament titles, two Final Fours and a national championship in his first nine seasons is quite a resume.
Self consistently brings in top-tier talent and is adept at meshing new talent with returning veterans. Player development is also strong with Self and KU, as we saw Thomas Robinson emerge from reserve role player to First Team All-American.
The Jayhawks return many key players from last year’s national runner-up squad. Jeff Withey is a legitimate scoring option in the paint, and Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson are above-average talents on the outside.
PF Perry Ellis and SF Andrew White, two top 50 recruits, should help the Jayhawks compete for a ninth straight Big 12 title.