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Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has expectations for Jamari McDowell and Elmarko Jackson

TOPEKA – Kansas basketball coach Bill Self addressed a number of areas of interest about his team during a local event in Topeka on Monday.

Self, whose team reached the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament last season, and the Jayhawks may not have enjoyed the success they set out to achieve during the 2023-2024 season. However, there was still a lot to build on given that team’s return. There is also a renewed excitement about the team’s potential given who Self and his coaching staff have added to the roster.

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Here are a few takeaways from what Self had to say.

Bill Self highlights expectations for Jamari McDowell and Elmarko Jackson

He himself alluded to the potential that, thanks to the talent Kansas has on its roster, second-year guards Jamari McDowell and Elmarko Jackson won’t have to rely on them more than they should this upcoming season. While that may be the case, Self still expects both to make significant progress heading into their sophomore seasons in college. He pointed out that the time between a player’s freshman and sophomore years usually makes the biggest jumps.

While McDowell played a limited role off the bench last season, Jackson was thrust into a starting role before eventually coming off the bench himself. He himself suggested that it might have been unfair to put so much on Jackson, especially given Jackson’s lack of experience. But regardless of what role Jackson has next season, Jackson certainly has more experience now.

This is how Bill Self sees freshman forward Flory Bidunga

Flory Bidunga is a well-known newcomer for Kansas, considering he’s a 247Sports Composite five-star center in the 2024 recruiting class. But just because Bidunga had a lot of success in high school doesn’t mean there aren’t things he’s still working through needs to work if he wants to earn a role with the Jayhawks. Bidunga, who was listed as a freshman forward by KU, is someone who will need to find his place in the team’s rotation.

Self-praised how great an athlete Bidunga is. Bidunga himself described himself as a great prospect. There are just questions that need to be answered, such as whether Bidunga is someone who can be on the field at the same time as returning veteran center Hunter Dickinson or not.

Kansas will have to replace Johnny Furphy’s three-point shooting ability

With Johnny Furphy’s decision to remain in this year’s NBA draft, it creates a need for Kansas to replace one of the best – if not the best – three-point shooting options the Jayhawks had last season. It’s part of the reason why he emerged as a starter for the team over the course of the season. It’s part of the reason why he will likely be picked in the first round if the draft is held.

However, Self highlighted Alabama’s Rylan Griffen as someone they recruited who could step up in that regard. Griffen, who will be a junior guard, shot the ball better from behind the arc than Furphy last season. All that matters is whether Griffen can continue to succeed at the pace he has shown he is capable of.

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self calls a play during the first half of a game against Oklahoma on Jan. 13, 2024, at Allen Fieldhouse.Kansas basketball coach Bill Self calls a play during the first half of a game against Oklahoma on Jan. 13, 2024, at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self calls a play during the first half of a game against Oklahoma on Jan. 13, 2024, at Allen Fieldhouse.

Jordan Guskey covers University of Kansas athletics at The Topeka Capital-Journal. He is the National Sports Media Association Sportswriter of the Year for the state of Kansas for 2022. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter at @JordanGuskey.

This article originally appeared in Topeka Capital-Journal: Kansas basketball coach Bill Self talks to Jamari McDowell, Johnny Furphy