“When you're talking about coaches at any level the best ones are able to adapt and adjust,” said Thunder general manager Sam Presti, in attendance Monday night in support of team chairman Clay Bennett, a member of the 2013 Hall of Fame class. “Certainly Bill has shown the ability to do that.
“Fortunately for him he has a great situation at Kansas. I'm sure that's the only thing he's focused on right now.”
Self has won 507 games in 20 seasons at Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Illinois and Kansas. The Jayhawks have won nine consecutive Big 12 regular season titles and are 277-32 under Self at Allen Fieldhouse.
“This was not unexpected,” said Mike de la Garza, Self's high school coach. “The guy has been my idol since he was in the eighth grade. This guy knows what it takes to win and how to handle individuals. He's a genuine guy that connects on an individual level.
“I thought he'd be a Division I head coach by age 30, his goal, which he did and that he would have one of the five best jobs in the country by age 40. I told him to his face he'd be the best coach in the country at age 50. Other guys coach really well, but game by game, nobody coaches better than Bill.”
Self was named the Oklahoma High School Player of the Year his senior season at Edmond Memorial. After he played at Oklahoma State, Self was a Division I college assistant eight years, all but one at OSU under Eddie Sutton and Leonard Hamilton.
“A lot of people give coaches way too much credit when you win and too much blame when you don't win,” Self said. “My success has been a byproduct of having really good players. I've had an unbelievable run in large part because of timing and so many people that have played a huge role in my life.
“I knew this (night) would be special, but it means more after you get here and see all the other people inducted and have been inducted in past years. To be recognized by my home state makes it even more special.”