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Kansas Basketball Media Day Interviews

Today was KU Men’s Basketball Media Day at Allen Fieldhouse. Bill Self and the entire basketball team was available to the media. Below you’ll find videos of Bill Self’s press conference as well as individual player interviews.

At the bottom, you’ll find transcriptions of Self’s presser as well as interviews with some players.

Bill Self:

Andrew Wiggins:

Wayne Selden:

Joel Embiid:

Brannen Greene:

Conner Frankamp:

Frank Mason:

Tarik Black:

Perry Ellis:

On Hype for this year’s Late Night in the Phog:
“From what I can tell this is the most anticipated start of the season that we’ve had since I’ve been here. But I’m not sure that’s 100 percent reliable because I don’t talk to a great portion of the fan base. But based on what people have told me there seems to be no shortage of anticipation.”

On what he thinks of the team:
“I think this team is different than most the teams we’ve had here if not all the teams we’ve had here. We are as deep as we’ve ever been. We’ve had as many good players in the gym as we’ve ever had. And we certainly are long and can play with five or six bigs where in years past we have been a little limited in doing so. It really doesn’t make a huge difference except in practice unless injuries occur and foul trouble occurs. We have had success playing primarily six guys and we’ve had success playing nine or 10 guys. I do think it’s a team that can play with more reckless abandon especially defensively because foul problems hopefully won’t be as big a concern as it has been in years past. I’m excited, we are talented, but by no means do we know how to play and by no means are we ready to play.”

On Joel Embiid‘s athleticism:
“(Joel) Embiid’s got the best feet. When you guys watch Joel play, you will say that he’s got great feet. He moves like a six-footer with the things he can do with his feet. He reminds me a little bit of (Hakeem) Olajuwon early in his career. Some similarities when he was real young and real raw. He was light on his feet and very quick on his feet and I think Joel is the same way. He’s got a long way to go from a toughness standpoint to be able to play a ton of minutes his rookie season. He can do some things and move in a way that very few guys in the past have been able to move.”

On Andrew Wiggins and what committing to the program means to him:
“Getting Andrew is something that made people, maybe even nationally, look at us in a different light. We’ve recruited a lot of good players but we haven’t really had a ton of success recruiting the top three or four players in their respective classes in the country. He obviously has that distinction. I think from a standpoint of other recruits it brings instant attention to our program. But after he gets here none of that matters anymore. He’s very talented and has a ton of potential, but he’s just a freshman. He’s going to find his way like everyone else. The expectation that have been put on him by outside factors or media members comparing him to this person or that person are really not fair at all. He has a chance to become a great player. I would not say he’s a great player yet but is a great prospect. And hopefully he will develop in a way where he can become a great player quickly.”

On Growing pains he expects from Conner Frankamp:
“I would say all freshmen go through growing pains. The one thing with Conner is he is a shooter and a scorer, but probably a shooter before a scorer. With that you get to the college level and you have bigger guys closing out at you and the games a little faster. You need to learn to get your shot off a little faster and sometimes you see guys really labor to shoot the ball with the same consistency they did in high school. And that to me, won’t be a concern because he will have the green light with us, is what I would say he has to grow through.”

On what Wiggins adjustments are:
“I thing with Andrew (Wiggins) is, he showed flashed of dominance in high school but he didn’t do it on a consistent basis. He’s a guy that relies on athletic ability and turning it on when it needs to be turned on. But when you get to this level and even at a very high level of high quality ball you have a lot of guys who play that way and you will never get it turned on. And so he has to become a consistent guy who needs to impact every possession in whatever way shape or form he can. He’s got to learn to compete in order to win every possession in the game.”

On Wiggins coach-ability:
“He’s a 10. All of our young kids have been 10s. This has been a great group to work with and if there is stubbornness it has been strictly from a competitive standpoint, which I find to be pretty attractive. There hasn’t been any stubbornness from a wanting to learn standpoint.”

On moving the start of the season up:
“I’m in favor of it this year. If we have a lot of guys return I would be against it next year. So I do think the season is too long. But the way they have done it in a way where you don’t have so much stuff to cram in so fast. You can take your time and be a better teacher. Also you don’t have to wear the guy’s body out so much because you can be a day on and two days off until you get your body in shape to practice. Right now there won’t be one team in America from a conditioning standpoint that is prepared to practice for a November first time practice. It’s going to be a situation where we will work them hard but there is no reason to have a three and half hour practice this early. We will probably have a hard day followed by a teaching day and so forth.”

On Frank Mason being able to play right away:
“There is no question Frank (Mason) can push Naadir (Tharpe) and Naadir knows that. Frank is talented, he’s tough and he’s a pit bull, probably as tough as anybody we have. But does he know how to lead, that’s the questions that need to be answered. He can certainly learn from Naadir and he has been every day. He’s in a battle for playing time with Naadir. But he still has a long way to go from knowing how to run a team.”

On Defensive Reckless abandonment:
“I don’t want to compromise being sound to showcase length or speed. But I do think we can be sound and if we can be then we will be able to extend and do things some of our past teams weren’t able to do much of. We can pressure in ways we haven’t done in the past. We will be able to make mistakes and recover if we are extending our defense. ”

On Perry Ellis:
“Perry easily could be our leading scorer this season or he could be our fourth leading scorer. But he certainly is talented enough to be our leading scorer, he’s been great. He had a great last third of the season last year. He had a really good spring and a great summer. But I think Perry will be able to take the next step.”

On whom vocal leaders of the team:
“Probably Naadir. Naadir and Tarik are the best candidates to be the vocal leaders. Everyone can put their vocal leadership to use in a way that fits their personality and still benefit the team but there are some that have to get outside their comfort zone to become a great leader.”

On Wayne Selden:
“Wayne is a guard that probably can play in at least two maybe three spots. He can be an emergency one and he’s quick and strong enough to defend the four. He’s probably as versatile as anyone we have on the team. The big thing is with freshmen that are used to being able to go around guys and now they can put their forearm on you and hold you that makes it difficult to makes it difficult for guys who aren’t that strong to adapt. Wayne won’t have that problem. Wayne is a guy that physically that can use his own strength to offset his opponent’s strength.”

On if it is complicated to deal with the hype that some of the players have received, maybe Andrew (Wiggins) specifically, and still get across expectations:
“This year may be a little bit different because people are saying so many good things about a group of kids that have done absolutely nothing, from a collegiate standpoint. In their minds they think they are ready, but even in the short time they have been here they realize that this is a little bit different than what they had anticipated. I don’t think it will be a huge problem but certainly it’s going to be one that we have to talk about a lot and if we can focus in on us being good, it will work. If we focus in on the individuals being good it won’t work, because if we are good that means the individuals have played very, very well themselves individually. You can have a guy play well and our team stink but it would be hard for our team to be really good and not look at our team and say ‘Hey, that kid preformed pretty well.'”

On if he feels any extra pressure to turn the highly-touted recruits into good basketball players quickly:
“Since I have been here I have never felt any pressure. I think there is pressure being a coach at a high-profile place all the time. But is there extra pressure? No. I think that my staff has done pretty good job in developing guys and certainly a lot of it falls on me, I know, but we aren’t going to please everybody. Certainly we are going to go through ups and downs where people think we shouldn’t be going through downs, but usually the downs are what allow us to be good in the end. So we won’t get hung up on that, but is there pressure for us to be good? There is every year. But the ultimate responsibility still falls, if you’re talking about developing individuals, on the individuals and we’ve got to put them in the right spots and certainly allow them to utilize their skill set and motivate them a certain way, but still they’ve got to want to work. If wanting to work is not part of the equation, then the individuals will never live up to the hype. But if this group wants to work, I do think there is a chance they could all be pretty pleased in the end.”

On what he hopes to get out of senior transfer forward Tarik Black this season:
“I think Tarik will have a great chance to play as much as he wants. He will have a great chance to start. Not very often do you recruit a senior that has already started three years and have him come in and be as well respected and basically be the leader of our big guys already, so I am expecting him to have a big year and he has prepared himself to have a big year because he has worked very, very hard.”

On how the ceiling of the 2013-14 team compares to some of the other great KU teams of the past:
“We have had some pretty good teams; you stop and think about the last seven years, I think our teams have averaged 33 wins a year. If this team got to 33 wins, it would be an unbelievable year considering how difficult the schedule is. So I would say if you are talking about the ceiling, if everything fell right come March, I would think that this team’s ceiling would be very high. But I don’t think we are anywhere close to being compared to any of the great teams that have come through here yet. Not even close. We have a lot of unanswered questions, but if guys develop and mature, things fall right and (the players) stay healthy and things like that, then there is no reason why this team cannot be a team that could be very tough to deal with by the end.”

On the tough competition early on in the schedule this season:
“I think maybe this year we overextended ourselves a little bit; I think we go Duke, three games in Atlantis, at Florida, Georgetown, San Diego State and New Mexico. Back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back. I don’t know if there is any team in America that would be doing anything like that. But I do like the fact that we are playing a hard schedule. But hard schedules expose yourself, what your true weaknesses are. So it’s not camouflaged by maybe playing some opponents that you can get by with some things. In the end it will help us playing a hard schedule, there is no question about that.”

On what areas of sophomore forward Perry Ellis‘ game can be improved:
“Basically, confidence and having the confidence to make plays like he did toward the end of the season last year. I think last year he was trying to fit in and be one of many (leaders on the team). This year he has got to have more of a hungry attitude, which I do think he has.”

On Ellis’ personality:
“His personality is very quiet and (he gives off) the appearance of being laid back, but he is also a guy that was the (Kansas) state player of the year four times in a row and won four state championships, so the fire burns, there is no question (about that). I think that sometimes he, as a young kid – no matter how much you try to stress it – they still want to please the older kids. We are so young this year that (now) he is one of the ‘older’ kids. So I don’t think he will have a problem with that at all.”

On if Ellis and Wiggins have similar, quiet, personalities:
“Perry is a whole different level of quiet; you could be in a room with Perry and neither person speak for 24 hours. Andrew’s not like that at all. But Andrew does take a kind of laid-back approach, so they are similar in that regard.”

On if he has tried to persuade Ellis and Wiggins to be more vocal:
“We have different ways to get them to talk, absolutely. We will work on that and get better at that. We are four weeks into school starting so we haven’t converted everyone to change their personalities in four weeks, but they will grow into what role they will be. Everybody has got to become a better communicator.”

On if he can easily communicate with Ellis:
“Perry is much more comfortable with me. He will come into the office and we will have a 30-40 second conversation, which is much better than it was when he first got here. He is a lot more comfortable. He is a terrific kid and has grown a lot in that (regard).”

On if he foresees asking anyone to redshirt with so many newcomers, in addition to numerous talented veterans, on this year’s team:
“I don’t know about being asked to redshirt; I foresee us talking about it with a couple of guys. The possibilities of who could do such a thing is limited because we have already had some guys transfer or redshirt and that kind of stuff. So I wouldn’t be surprised if one guy redshirted and things like that. It won’t be because we asked them to, but because they, and their family, think it is best for their career. I still – after seeing Travis (Releford) and Jeff Withey (go through the redshirt year) – I can’t understand if you’re not in the mix and top nine or something like that, why you wouldn’t consider that (a redshirt season) because if you just follow what they did, those guys had unbelievable careers and that’s because they were patient. So sometimes I think that’s something that kids need to look at, but I don’t know who that would be right now. It depends how things play out during practice sessions.”

On the biggest thing forward Landen Lucas got out of his redshirt year in 2012-13:
“I think he has become a lot more confident, he’s obviously more explosive and has more of a scorer’s mentality and he’s very bright. He gets what we are doing. He is one of those guys that over time is going to be a really good player for Kansas. He is just starting to scratch the surface and get it. I could not be more pleased at where he is at this stage in his career compared to where I thought he would be when we first recruited him. He’s far ahead of schedule, from my perspective.”

On other players, who maybe aren’t getting the attention because of Wiggins’ hype:
“Wayne Selden, you guys will see, he’s prepared. A large part of that is because physically he is prepared. Brannen Greene is a talented player. Conner Frankamp, if there is somebody that can shoot better, I would like to see it because he can shoot it maybe as well as anyone we have had here. (If he) can he do it under game conditions remains to be seen, but we certainly think he can. I think Tarik Black may have been the big steal of any recruiting class in America because here is a guy that is a potential draft pick. You get all the maturity and he already knows how to work; coming in for one year, he knows it has to be a banner season for him otherwise the transfer wasn’t worth it. He’s hungry. Joel (Embiid) is probably as talented big kid as we have had because he’s so good on his feet. There are a lot of guys who have the potential tag around their neck but haven’t done anything yet. Frank Mason, he’s a guy that went to prep school and we were begging him to come here; you guys will understand why once you see him play. We are excited about our entire class. Andrew (Wiggins) was the icing on the cake but this class would have been one of the better classes even if Andrew hadn’t have come.”

On if having so many highly-touted recruits in this year’s class helps Kansas’ recruiting in the future:
“Yes, I think so. The more kids you sign that advance and go on to play the next level is the best for recruiting, but there is no question that kids want to go where other good players are playing. There are many other schools that can stake that claim but we are certainly one of them.”

On Brannen Greene‘s skill set:
“He’s big, he’s 6’7 with great range and vision and good ball skills. He’s got to tighten a lot of things up. In any other recruiting class he would be a headliner. He’s a good player.”

On how deep he believes the team could go:
“It doesn’t really matter because we will probably only play nine, but it could be a different nine. I think it’s one of those teams that could be a different nine depending on who’s playing well. It is a team where we play a solid nine in every big game, which we probably haven’t done in years past.”

On if this the best recruiting class ever for him:
“Yeah this is the most talented class we have ever signed. You know Julian (Wright), Brandon (Rush), Mario (Chalmers) and Micah Downs (in 2005) that was pretty good. You got three McDonalds All-Americans plus Brandon who would have made it but he wasn’t eligible for it. So I don’t know if when you talk about four quality guys, we have any guys with more quality than that, but we do have more. When you talk about a class of eight there are eight pretty good players. So it’s without a question the deepest class we’ve had. Of course it remains to be seen if it’s the best one, but I certainly think it has potential to be the best.”

On coming to Kansas:
“Kansas is my type of place. I’ve always liked Kansas’ style of the way they function. I liked their playing style a lot as well, but it’s just who they are as a people – they are so family oriented and humble. They are so together and humble and I really liked it. That’s the type of person I am; I really care about others, especially my teammates and the program that I’m in, and I want to win and Coach Self obviously has a winning tradition.”

On Coach Self wanting him to be a vocal leader:
“I’m definitely cool with it. If coach believes in me, then why wouldn’t I believe in myself.”

On his thoughts about Late Night in the Phog:
“I heard it gets crazy. I heard it’s a packed, crazy event, and people just go nuts for Late Night. I heard people camp out and things like that. It’s just special. It’s different for me with it being in the Fieldhouse, because in Memphis we are used to going downtown to do stuff it wasn’t just right there on campus; so walking by people on the way to games is something I am going to have to get used to. I’m really expecting a great turnout, the fans getting really into it and the team is going to put on a really great show and show them that, ‘yeah this is going to be a special year.'”

On how Andrew Wiggins has impressed him:
“How he composes himself. He’s real laid back, you wouldn’t even know he was the No. 1 player in the country the way he acts. He doesn’t try to show out or act better than anybody. He is a genuine person and I told him he needs to maintain that throughout the season. On the court, he is a tremendous athlete. He hits jumpers, he is ridiculously fast getting up the floor and a lot of people say he can’t shoot the ball very well but from what I’ve seen, he can shoot the ball really well.”

On becoming the leader of the team with Perry Ellis:
“We embrace the role, which is why we came to this school. I knew there was going to be a time where I could become the leader and I feel like this is the year for me to be a leader. With all of the young guys, Perry was here last year and this is my third year, we know what is needed and what coach wants out of his players. We need to be able to help the guys out and that is what we are going to do.”

On the expectations for the team this season:
“We definitely lost great players, seniors that did a lot for this program. New guys are always good though. I am not worried about the players that we have. I know what they can do and I know how hard they have been working since they have been here. Expectations are going to be high no matter what when you play at Kansas, we always have high expectations. It doesn’t matter the class or who we have, we need to come out and prove it.”

On his development and perseverance throughout his collegiate career:
“It was a good beat-down when I got here. You beat yourself down and then you find a way to pick yourself back up. I feel like the teammates I have had over the past few years and the coaching staff that was around me, they helped me out and helped me become the player that I am right now. I am just grateful to be able to go through those things and not just go somewhere where I came in and had everything handed to me. I have put a lot of work in and have a lot of work that I am still putting in. I am just grateful that I am able to do it with the guys I’m with now.”

On what he has learned from previous point guards at Kansas:
“I learned that I am not going to play my best game every night and you are not going to do everything that is needed, but you always have to find some way to help the team out. Being able to have your teammates around you and guiding you, it is going to be kind of hard for me not to come in and do my best.”

On any concerns about this team’s chemistry with so many new players:
“No, I don’t think that for even one second. I have been around these guys in the locker room, I have been around them on the court and I feel like we gel pretty well. Everybody is at the same court, talking with each other, playing around with each other and we all get along well. We just need to make sure we put it on the court.”

On the moment when everything came together for him last season:
“It was really a combination of different moments. I really started getting things down the stretch at the end of the season. I’m not sure what exactly it was but I think it was the way I was showing up to games and practices ready to compete. That helped a lot. I wasn’t thinking so much about the game anymore and just started to play.”

On how he improved at the end of last season:
“I forgot which game (it was) where everything came together. It was really just those last few games. That’s when everything started to come more easily. At the beginning of the season, I was playing at 100 miles an hour in practice. I was trying to do everything as quick as I could. Then I learned that I really don’t need to do that. Making my free throws also helped me get into the rhythm of things.”

On being a leader:
“I definitely feel like I have become more of a leader, especially this year because a lot of guys are looking up to me. I’m just trying to show them to play hard. It was a quick transition for me becoming a sophomore and one of the older guys. I was a freshman last year and now we have a young team and so I’m one of the older guys now.”

On the talent of the team:
“I feel that we have a group of guys that all want to work. I feel that is the key to being good. Everyone wants to get better. Coach has talked to us a little bit about all the hype surrounding the team this year. He told us to just play our game. And don’t worry about everything else.”

On what brought him to KU:
“Everything (brought me here). The whole aspect, the coaching staff, the tradition and the fans are incredible. It wasn’t just Late Night itself, but it was the family-like environment that I stepped into when I came here on my visit.”

On how he sees his and Andrew Wiggins‘ game’s complimenting each other:
“We have two different types of games, but we are both fast-paced, in-your-face type of players. So I think it will work well.”

On how he will impact the game on defense:
“I want to work hard on defense. I want to be able to get on all of the loose balls. I just want to be able to become a better defender all around.”

On being at Kansas so far:
“When I came on my visit it kind of just caught my heart. This is where I felt I belonged. The team all rolled as one unit. Everybody was cool with everybody, no one was really left out. I felt more at home here than I did anywhere else.”

On expectations for the season:
“I’ve got a lot of expectations for the team. We’re a young team, but I know we can do a lot of damage. Hopefully we will win the Big 12 and then we will win the whole thing [NCAA Championship].”

On having his brother in Kansas also (Nick Wiggins, Wichita State):
“It played a part in my decision [to come to KU] because he’s my brother. I’m close with all of my family members, and to have a family member live close to you just in case something happens, you have someone to lean on.”

On the bond within the team:
“I became close with all of them. When I took my visit everyone rolled like a unit, even now there are no favorites on the team. Everybody talks to everybody.”

On teammate Wayne Selden:
“He’s funny. He’s a really funny guy. As a player, he’s good he can pass, he can score and he plays very unselfish. He makes his whole team better.”

On his strengths and weaknesses:
“I think scoring – and defensively I’m really good. I need to work on off-ball defending. I’m working on my shooting and ball-handling. Nothing is perfect. It’s just all [in getting] repetition.”

On playing for Coach Self:
“It’s been great. Coach Self, he’s a player’s coach. All the players love him, he’s been teaching me a lot since I’ve been here, on and off the court. It’s just been a joy playing for him so far.”

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