Bill Self has won many awards, earned many accolades and garnered many honors.
Add another to the list.
During a luncheon Tuesday, Self will be announced as one of this year's seven inductees into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. The basketball coach at Kansas will be inducted in August and join a roster that already includes the likes of Jim Thorpe, Mickey Mantle and Barry Sanders.
And you'd better believe that this honor means something to Self.
Oh, the self-deprecating coach has joked to friends that no halls of fame would have anything to do with him. But for an Oklahoma native who is fiercely loyal to his home state, being included in this state's roll call of sports greats is a thrill.
Self, who was born in Okmulgee, graduated from Edmond Memorial High School, then played at Oklahoma State, has never forgotten from whence he came.
Just ask one of the men who knows him best — his former basketball coach at Edmond Memorial.
“I think one of the most refreshing things about Bill Self is that throughout all of this success,” Mike de la Garza said, “he is still the same guy that I knew when he was in high school.”
You hear that often about people who make it big, don't you? He hasn't changed. He hasn't gone big time.
About half the time, it rings hollow.
But in this case, it seems true.
Self counts his high school buddies as some of his best friends in the world. Jay Davis, for example, graduated Edmond High a year after Self, but more than three decades after they played high school ball together, they remain close.
De la Garza tells a story about his son. Scott de la Garza was in middle school when Self was in high school, and the youngster idolized Self. He wanted to play like him, dribble like him, shoot like him, be like him.
It would've been really easy for Self to dismiss someone so much younger.
Instead, the two became friends, and even now, they remain close.
“He's never forgotten where he came from,” Mike de la Garza said of Self. “He's the same guy that we have always known. Success has not changed him.
“He's definitely a unique individual.”
After all, it would've been easy for Self to become disassociated from Oklahoma.
Even though he spent much of his college coaching career in Oklahoma — Oklahoma State assistant, 1986-93; Oral Roberts, 1993-97; and Tulsa, 1997-2000 — he's been gone for more than a decade. Plus, his greatest career success has come north of the Oklahoma border.
At Kansas, Self has one of the top jobs in the country at one of the best programs in college basketball. He has a winning percentage that is better than any other coach in Jayhawk history, including Roy Williams, Larry Brown and the inventor of the game of basketball, James Naismith. He won one national title and played for another. He lands top-notch recruits. He produces NBA-caliber players.
“He's really at the zenith of college basketball,” de la Garza said.
Hard to argue that.
But Self remains strongly connected to his home state. While the evidence is growing that he may never coach again in Oklahoma — he has signed a long-term contract that would keep him at Kansas until at least 2022 — he is still proud to be an Oklahoman. That's why this Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame induction means something significant to Self.
Even though it's unlikely to be his last hall of fame, it's sure to always be a favorite.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.