Norm Roberts is a name familiar to Jayhawk Nation. Not only was he with Self at Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Illinois and during his first season on Naismith Drive (2003-2004). After that one season in Lawrence, he departed for a head coach position at St. John's, where he spent six seasons, before spending the 2011-2012 season on Billy Donovan's staff at Florida.
So much about hiring Roberts to fill the void left by Manning made sense. His longstanding relationship with Self, for example, as well as his recruiting prowess and the fact that his son, Niko, is currently a sophomore on the Jayhawks basketball team.
In this case, logic proved prophetic - and Monday Self officially announced Roberts' return to Kansas hoops.
"I'm excited to see Norm come back," he said, via press release. "He's always been a Kansas guy, having worked Kansas basketball camps in the 1980s for Coach (Larry) Brown. he and his family loved it here. As good as he was when he left, now he's got six years of head coaching experience under his belt in addition to all the recruiting experience. I think he's going to be a huge asset to our program."
During his one season in Lawrence, Roberts made what would prove to be an immense impact, helping assemble Self's first official signing class in 2004. From that class came three players who would form the foundation of the 2008 national championship squad - Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun and Russell Robinson.
Manning left behind big shoes to fill, but perhaps nobody in the country is better equipped to fill those shoes than Roberts. And he's eager to be back.
"I'm extremely excited having the chance to go back to such a great program as Kansas," Roberts said. "I thought when I was there, I wasn't there long enough to really enjoy the Jayhawk nation and everything. Having a chance to go back will be great and the opportunity to work with Joe (Dooley) and Kurtis (Townsend) and the rest of the staff will be great as well."
His hiring leaves one spot still unfilled on Self's staff - that of Director of Basketball Operations. The position was recently vacated by Barry Hinson, who was hired last month as the head coach at Southern Illinois University.