KU NIL Bracket Challenge 💰

Writer X and NIL Scoops Madness

  • 👏 Bracket Challenge for KU NIL 

  • 😨 ‘Writer X’ Returns: Beware of the Portal

  • 😯 What Do You Want to Read for Selection Sunday?

Support The Hearings by sending this to KU friends and fam. Was this forwarded to you? Subscribe here.

EVERYTHING IN THIS NEWSLETTER IS BASED UPON WHAT I AM HEARING FROM PEOPLE I TRUST. PLEASE DO NOT MISTAKE THIS FOR FACT OR FOR ACTUAL JOURNALISM, WHICH HAS VERIFICATION STANDARDS THAT I HAVE NOT ADHERED TO. I DO NOT GUARANTEE THE ACCURACY OF THE CONTENT.

Make a Bracket, Make a Difference

I’ve said this before, but NIL is the most important thing for KU fans to support right now. So, let’s do what KU fans do best and support the Jayhawks.

This is a $25 NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge to support NIL efforts at KU. 100% of the proceeds will go to NIL.

You Can Win:

How to Enter:

  1. Click the link below to enter 👇

    https://www.leaguesafe.com/join/4185858

    (It’s not ideal, but LeagueSafe is the best option I’ve found.)

  2. Once you pay, LeagueSafe will email you a link to the ESPN bracket and its password. Reply to this email or write [email protected] if there are any issues.

  3. Join the ESPN bracket group! It’s that easy. You can make up to 25 entries (for $25 each)!

Schools like Ole Miss are running an NIL campaign through March to raise $10 MILLION! It’s going to take all of us to help KU into the new era of college sports.

And KU’s on-the-field performance directly correlates to our position with conference realignment coming (more on this in the coming weeks).

I’m challenging our KU community to share this with their friends, family, and KU group chats. We can make a measurable difference for KU together… but it’s going to require your help. Let’s spread the word to as many people as possible!

Thank you. Rock Chalk. And happy March!

I’ve brought in a special and prominent guest writer on the condition of anonymity. ‘Writer X’ first made his appearance after KU’s loss to UCF, and it was a hit based on your feedback.

College Basketball ‘Writer X’ has covered college hoops for most of this century. He also has takes.

By Writer X

As the old adage goes, the following two things can be true at the same time: 

  1. It’s kind of dumb to critique Bill Self.

  2. It sure does seem like Self fell into a bit of a transfer portal trap this year. 

I’ve been thinking about this more and more as this Kansas season came off the rails—and it seemed to come to a head on Wednesday, when KU lost its second straight game by more than 20 points.  

If you’re a Kansas fan or a member of the national media, there’s a natural tendency to give Bill Self the benefit of the doubt. And why not? Self is one of the best coaches in the history of the sport. He’s won at such an insane pace for more than two decades that you could ignore the two NCAA championships and still point to about seven stats that look like misprints. 

But that doesn’t mean Self is above criticism, and I have a working theory for what’s gone wrong. I’ve heard people point to the 2018-19 season as a useful comp. That was the year that hyped Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson became eligible. 

Lawson put up big numbers, but the pieces didn’t fit. Kansas had some injury issues. Lawson was skilled but not athletic. And the season was so forgettable that I totally memory-holed the fact that KU was preseason No. 1 that year. 

Hunter Dickinson has done a pretty good Dedric Lawson impersonation this year, right down to the impressive touch around the basket and the suspect defense. But I had a conversation recently that unlocked another comparison for this year: The 2013-14 Kansas team. 

That team had Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, but their guards weren’t great, Embiid hurt his back, and KU lost 10 games. I actually think that most fans and media members have overrated that team as the years have passed. To the point that I wonder if people actually remember what that team was like. The guards just weren’t good enough, even if Embiid had stayed healthy. But that wasn’t the reason that team came up. 

It’s easy to forget now, but 2013-14 was a totally different time in college basketball. Kansas had won the title in 2008 and dominated the Big 12 in the years that followed, but by 2013, John Calipari had totally changed the sport. Kentucky rolled to the title in 2012, beating KU in the process, and despite missing the tournament the next year, Calipari kept landing recruiting classes with four or five top-10 recruits. The national media became fixated on one-and-done players in a way that it never had before. 

Calipari was so successful that Coach K and Duke adjusted their own recruiting strategy, and in time, so did Self. To be fair, it’s not as if Self had never landed top-10 recruits before, but the next couple seasons were some of his best classes on paper. 

Wiggins. Embiid. Wayne Selden. Kelly Oubre. Cliff Alexander. And KU was in on a number of other top 10 players, too. 

That’s the thing about Self. He’s so good that he can more or less adjust to whatever the college landscape is like. And if the game was one-and-done talent, he was going to go get those players. 

But I don’t think it’s a total coincidence that Self had some of his least inspiring teams during that time. After losing 10 games in 2013-14, the 2014-15 team finished 27-9 and got drilled by Wichita State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It’s to Self’s credit that KU kept winning the conference every year. 

But I see some similarities to what happened this year. The transfer portal totally tilted the landscape of the sport over the last two to three seasons, and Self set out to dominate the portal, flipping most of the roster in the process. 

I guess it’s easy to point to Dickinson, Nick Timberlake and Arterio Morris and just say that Self just recruited the wrong guys. That’s part of it. But Self’s best teams have always been defined not just by their upperclassmen but the continuity that was developed over multiple years of playing together. It almost feels like Self struck gold with Remy Martin—an inspired pickup—and learned the wrong lesson from the portal. 

Kansas is not going to stop recruiting the best players in the country, just as they are not going to stop using the portal. But maybe the secret is using one-and-dones and the portal to finish off a roster—not to build one. 

I still think it’s dumb to critique Bill Self—and not just because of his record. He’s always had the self awareness to make adjustments. He’s the best coach in the country for a reason. 

It’s also true that sometimes roster churn is cyclical—and unpredictable. To name one brief example: How much better would KU be had Gradey Dick opted to be a two-and-done rather than a one-and-done? Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you don’t. 

The portal is inevitable, and Self will go back to it this offseason. 

But having watched this Kansas season, I still wonder if going all in on the portal is a bit of a trap.

My Thoughts on the ‘Writer X’ Opinion. 

I love Writer X. Here are some quick thoughts on the above take. I’ll keep it brief.

  • I understand why Writer X would have this take. He is correct, historically. Bill Self’s system almost always takes time for players to peak.

  • BUT I think we’re about to enter a transfer portal summer where a different caliber of player is available.

  • I expect more Kevin McCullar-types to transfer than we’ve seen in the past. We’re talking teal and proven Power Five starting talent.

  • KU must stay aggressive in this current iteration of the Portal Era.

  • BUT it also must learn from its past mistakes and adjust. That’s the only way this will work.

Thank you for reading. Happy Friday. Happy March.

And please share the link to the bracket challenge!! We can make a measurable difference together.

Join the conversation

or to participate.