Kansas’ Bill Self hopeful on Cheick Diallo, but preparing for all scenarios

Kansas Cheick Diallo (USATSI)
Cheick Diallo was MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game (USATSI)

Kansas coach Bill Self is hoping talented freshman Cheick Diallo will be in the Jayhawks’ lineup this season, but he’s also preparing for all scenarios in case the 6-foot-9 Diallo isn’t cleared by the NCAA.

“We’ve talked about it (not having Diallo) a lot, but we’re not going to change how we play,” Self told CBS Sports on Wednesday morning. “Although there’s no guarantees and everyone is doing their part in terms of looking into it, I believe that we’ll play with him (Diallo). So we’re going to prepare like that. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to have him, but sometimes what I believe is also what I hope. I think we’ll play the same way with or without Cheick.”

Self and Kansas are still waiting for Diallo to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center.

There is no freshman in college basketball that has a motor like Diallo’s. A relentless rebounder, the big man could be the X-Factor as to whether or not the Jayhawks can get to the Final Four and win a national title in 2016.

“It would definitely force our hand to play different if we didn’t have him,” Self said. “But the one most pleasant surprise we’ve had so far has been Carlton Bragg. I feel confident that we have enough punch up front, but we just won’t be very big if we don’t have Cheick.”

The 6-9 Bragg was a Top-40 recruit out of high school and is an excellent high post passer. He’ll be a big piece of Kansas’ puzzle if Diallo isn’t cleared by the NCAA.

The Jayhawks have won 11 consecutive Big 12 regular season titles under Self and lost to Wichita State in the Round of 32 last March.

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