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Who will start on KU’s Senior Night? Who will speak to fans? Bill Self weighs in

Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball coach Bill Self has consulted his fourth- and fifth-year players a bit about their respective future, and that’s helped him sort through some details for Senior Night 2024.

The big evening takes place Tuesday, as KU plays host to Kansas State at 8 p.m. tip inside Allen Fieldhouse.

“We are going to honor seven guys tomorrow night,” Self said Monday. “Patrick (Cassidy), Jank (Michael Jankovich), Hunter (Dickinson), Juan (Harris), Kevin (McCullar), Parker (Braun) and Nick (Timberlake). They’ll be out there before the game (with their parents, during the pre-game ceremony).”

It’s KU’s home finale for the 2023-24 season.

“The only four that will speak after the game (to the fans) are Parker, Nick, Jank and Hunter,” Self said.

The reason the other three will not speak?

“Kevin has already spoken at Senior Night (at KU last season),” the coach explained. “Juan will be a returnee (in 2024-25 for a super-senior season). Patrick can be a returnee next year even though he’ll graduate.

“Parker and Nick did not speak at the Senior Night at their respective schools (last year),” Self added, referring to Santa Clara (Braun) and Towson (Timberlake).

Dickinson said Monday the fact that he will give a Senior Night speech does not necessarily mean he’ll be entering the 2024 NBA Draft and skipping a possible super-senior campaign at KU. There remains a possibility he’ll be a Jayhawk next season.

“This doesn’t mean that it’s it for me,” Dickinson said Monday. “It’s more of, if this is it for me I want to be able to go through with it (giving a senior speech).”

KU has a tradition of starting its seniors on Senior Night. With former team manager Cassidy telling Self he’ll be returning as a walk-on next year, he will put off starting for KU until Senior Day 2025.

That leaves six candidates vying for five starting slots Tuesday. Braun is questionable for the Sunflower Showdown because of an ankle sprain suffered Saturday at Baylor.

If he can’t go, that would mean No. 14-ranked KU (21-8, 9-7) would open the game against K-State (17-12, 7-9) with a lineup of McCullar, Dickinson, Jankovich, Harris and Timberlake.

“Jank was going to start this game since he arrived here his freshman year. That’s how we do it here,” Self said of starting a fifth-year senior.

As far as Braun’s status, Braun himself noted: “A lot can change in 24 hours, but we’re trending in the right direction. We’re working on it every day. We’re going to keep trying to ramp it up and hopefully I’ll be ready for the game.”

“We’ll see if he (Braun) can go today,” Self said ahead of Monday’s practice. ‘If he’s not full speed today I don’t know he’d be able to give us much tomorrow or be close to full speed.”

Self said McCullar, who returned to action from a knee-bruise injury on Saturday at Baylor, had not had any setbacks: “Kevin … I haven’t heard anything negative. I anticipate him practicing today,” Self said.

Dickinson had the line of the day when asked about the Jayhawks dropping out of the top 10 in the AP poll for the first time since the 2020-21 season. KU is No. 14 this week.

“I saw that,” the Michigan transfer said with a smile. “I was like, ‘Damn, once I got here things just kind of went crap.’”

The Jayhawks have lost two in a row and three of five heading into Tuesday’s contest against KSU. The Wildcats, meanwhile, are on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

“I think they are desperate ... maybe,” Self said of the Wildcats. “I think we are desperate, too. They beat us the last time (75-70 in overtime on Feb. 5 in Manhattan).

“We’ve lost two in a row. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t come out and be desperate, as well.”