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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Notebook: KU seniors prepare for final home game; recruit Andrew Wiggins to visit Sunday

The Kansas start give a collective fist bump during a break in action against West Virginia on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Kansas start give a collective fist bump during a break in action against West Virginia on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self talks after win over WVU

Kansas coach Bill Self talks after his team's 91-65 victory over West Virginia on March 2, 2013.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Ben McLemore, Elijah Johnson, Jeff Withey

Kansas players Ben McLemore, Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 91-65 victory over West Virginia on March 2, 2013.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

WVU coach Bob Huggins

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins talks after KU's 91-65 victory on March 2, 2013.

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Box score

KU-WVU

Jeff Withey and three of his closest friends will play the final home game of their Kansas University basketball careers on Monday night in Allen Fieldhouse.

“We’re excited. It’s going to be an emotional game and one that we are going to remember for a long time,” the 7-foot senior Withey said after scoring 14 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking nine shots in Saturday’s 91-65 home victory over West Virginia.

“We’re ready for it,” he added of himself, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Kevin Young, “but at the same time we don’t want it to come because it is our last home game. We know that we have to win every game from here on out in order to win the conference (title) and get into our groove for the (NCAA) tournament.”

KU, 13-3 in Big 12 play with two games remaining, remains tied with Kansas State (13-3) for the top spot in the league. Oklahoma State is a game back. KSU won at Baylor on Saturday.

McLemore’s finale too?: Monday also could be the final home game of freshman Ben McLemore, who exploded for 36 points Saturday and has three outings of 30 or more this season.

“The reality of it is Ben and I ... we’re not going to talk about this until the season is over ... he could obviously be running out there the last time, too,” coach Bill Self said. “Even though you don’t talk about it, you know obviously it’s something I’m sure he has thought about as well.”

Asked about the possibility of it being his last game, McLemore, who has been projected to be the No. 1 or 2 pick in the June NBA Draft, said: “We just have to focus on what is in front of us right now. Our focus is just to go out there and play ball. We want to make our seniors happy and have them leave with a great year — their time here at the University of Kansas.”

More than nine?: One media member suggested the ever-active Withey may have had more than nine blocks.

“Our stat crew I know does a great job,” Self said. “I think that one is worth revisiting if possible. It sure seemed that way to me. He got one late they (refs) called a foul. That looked like it might have been clean. He did a great job blocking and altering today.”

Withey had a triple-double earlier this season against San Jose State with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks.

Souvenir: Self was presented a ball signifying his 500th coaching victory (against Iowa State) before the game. The fans responded with a standing ovation. Self waved the ball to the crowd.

Wiggins arrives Sunday: Andrew Wiggins, a 6-7 senior forward from Huntington (W. Va.) Prep will arrive on campus Sunday for the start of an official recruiting visit. Wiggins is the No. 1-rated player in the Class of 2013 by Rivals.com. He is considering KU, Kentucky, Florida State and North Carolina.

Individual stats: Withey is tied with Paul Mokeski (1976-79) for 10th all-time on the school double-double list. ... Johnson earned the third double-double of his career and second of the season. Johnson’s 10 assists tie his career high, which he recorded against Iowa State on Jan. 11. ... Johnson is 9-of-14 from three in his last two games, after going 7-of-30 in his previous six. ... Kevin Young’s six points gave him 1,004 for his career. He scored 658 at Loyola Marymount (2008-10) and 346 at Kansas.

Team notes: KU has won 24 games for the eighth consecutive season. KU has 13 conference wins for the eighth straight season. ... KU is 2-0 versus West Virginia all-time. ... KU’s 61.1 three-point shooting percentage (11 of 18) is second-highest this year (15-24 for 62.5 percent vs. American on Dec. 29) ... KU has combined for 199 points in its last two games after scoring 215 in its previous three. ... KU has had players with back-to-back 30-point games for the first time since Danny Manning scored 30 and 37 against Oklahoma and Missouri on Feb. 24 and Feb. 27, 1988. Manning also had a 31-point performance on Feb. 20, 1988 versus Duke to mark the last three-game stretch where KU had a player score 30-points or more. ... KU last scored 90 or more points in two consecutive Big 12 games when it scored 90 against Missouri (Feb. 4, 2008) and 100 versus Baylor (Feb. 9, 2008) in the 2007-08 season. ... KU’s 91 points are the most by a West Virginia opponent this season. ... The Jayhawks’ 29 assists were most since dishing 30 against Towson on Nov. 11, 2011.

Randle wins state: Julius Randle scored 35 points and grabbed 20 rebounds to lead Prestonwood Christian Academy of Plano, Texas, to a 71-66 state-championship win over Nolan on Saturday, USA Today reports. Randle, who is the No. 2-ranked senior in the country, is considering KU, Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina State and Texas.

Comments

timcampbell 1 year, 7 months ago

Hope Ben stays for one more year, but I think he will follow the money. I know I would.

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Boouk 1 year, 7 months ago

We won't miss him too much if we get Wiggins. Unfortunately, the odds of us landing him are probably 5%.

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Mike Barnhart 1 year, 7 months ago

WOW!!! That's true, blue optimism at it's finest! Ben McLemore's don't grow on trees.

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Pitthawk34 1 year, 7 months ago

0% ben is back 2% Wiggins and Randle 40% either way be have ballers coming 2013-14.

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billhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

Why would either of these two recruits not choose Kansas? KU has the need for a forward and could virtually guarantee PT and he would have a solid, young crew to compliment his game and compete for championships.
UK is already stacked with All-American recruits and returning players (less PT). UT is bad. FSU is bad.

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Displayhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

If I'm not mistaken, Wiggins brother plays at Wichita State, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that he would go to school outside of Florida. Maybe the kid wants to to be close (but not too close) to his brother, so you never know, maybe we do have a shot. Hopefully there will still be some snow. RCJH

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Mike Bratisax 1 year, 7 months ago

Hopefully he will look at all options w/people who have his best interests as their priority. I also hope that he waits and while before getting an agent. Brandon Rush showed the wisdom for waiting. There will be plenty of the best agents lining up in hopes of getting his signature.

I think he will go into the NBA as a high lottery pick after we win this year's NCAA championship.

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Mike Bratisax 1 year, 7 months ago

I agree..didn't mean it to read we needed to win anything in the NCAA. Just thought it would be a better ending.

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jhox 1 year, 7 months ago

He needs to go, period. Forget what is best for KU and for KU fans.. He's ready, the family needs the income, and some NBA team is ready to make him very rich. This is not a situation where staying around another year will make him more desirable and make him richer.

Sometimes these kids have a no brainier decision to make, and this is one of those times. We should just thank him for his time in Lawrence and suggest that he come back and visit regularly.

I really see no need for a lot of drama here. They should just do something nice for him like they did T Rob last year. We should show him the love and wish him the best. In the long run it will probably help our recruiting by showing that this coaching staff can take a top 20 or 30 recruit and in a season make him a one or two overall pick. It will go a long way to putting the negative recruiting, relating to the Selby situation, to rest.

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Joel Thomas 1 year, 7 months ago

Short-term it's not necessarily good for KU and its fans, but long-term McLemore shining is good. He is an example of success after the talented Selby and Henry put up pedestrian performances. And a guard at that. We have a rep for producing big men (even withstanding losing Manning), so this is a good feather in our cap.

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Joseph Bullock 1 year, 7 months ago

great post trojanhaewk, but remember, he can also play the 4, and that would make our back court, arguably, the best in the nation, also. He would make us, arguably, the best team in the nation, and if we could somehow also get Randle, we might be favored, as the season goes on, to win it all. we could win it all, getting either one of them, because we have a lot of talent coming back, and coming in, and remember, the bruiser, Lucus, will also be playing next year, after red shirting this season.

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Boouk 1 year, 7 months ago

ESPN's Dave Telep said Randle told him he's down to 3 schools. He thinks they're KU, UK, and Texas.

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Tim Marshall 1 year, 7 months ago

I can't see Randle going to Texas. His official visit there did not go well at all.

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oldalum 1 year, 7 months ago

There's also that stuff I read (on ESPN, I think) about some school in Kentucky being so anti Canadian, burning their flag and sending hate mail. I need to find it again so I can remember the details.

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Jack Wilson 1 year, 7 months ago

I don't subscribe to Scout .. that's where Telep's statement is reported. And the quote on a google search is that Telep "thinks" Randle is down to KU, UK and Texas. Still, that's pretty good info. Telep is really the one closest to the situation other than family/friends.

In an interview a while back, Randle has said that going somewhere that could win a title was his most important consideration, and that the player he'd like to play with most is Andrew Harrison (going to UK).

You have think, though, that this kid is looking for a place that will highlight his skills and make him focus of their offense.

The post numbers at UK seem to make that remote. A decent chance he might not start there. And I see him including Texas as a courtesy to the in state school (if he goes to Texas, all this recruiting talk has been a waste of time .. you'd think if he was going to Texas, someone would have reported them as an in-state leader, not just a prediction). On this one, everything adds up to KU (assuming Florida and NC State are now sliding).

Wiggins as an add is a luxury. Randle is huge need.

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Jack Wilson 1 year, 7 months ago

Yea, I'd heard that about Selden.

And no, I hadn't seen that .. I can take 10-love, better than I can 10-nill. But if it's 10-0, you can call it whatever you want.

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Lance Hobson 1 year, 7 months ago

Not holding my breath for either one of these recruits. These top-ranked one and doners seem to favor UK. That's fine, we do well with the 4-star guys we develop for longer college careers.

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LAJayhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

Kentucky already has 5 McD's All-American's coming in, and I don't know how much talent they will actually lose after this year. Kentucky really wouldn't be the smartest choice for any late-signing recruit. Granted Wiggins and Randle are really, really good and will start anywhere, but I have to think both will lean away from UK. Doesn't mean it will be us, but I'd be surprised if either chose Kentucky.

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Alex Peekeaton 1 year, 7 months ago

Randle isn't choosing UK with Marcus Lee & Dakari Johnson coming in next year and Cauley-Stein & Wiltjer coming back for another year. Randle is probably down to Texas & Kansas with NC State a remote possibility. UK has a great shot at signing Wiggins - be a part of the greatest recruiting class ever and #1 ranking going into next year.

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Ethan Berger 1 year, 7 months ago

If Randle just won state, then we should have a decision within the next 14 days. Wiggins choosing us would be massive but I doubt it.

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LAJayhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

Imagine if we landed both. My head, literally, would explode. Literally.

I mean literally.

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LAJayhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

Literally. Like... literally.

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Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 7 months ago

Withey has made the right decision going to KU. We are so proud of you! EJ will close his senior night with another bang. There's no sign of injury there. Travis has become a lethal defensive-offensive threat - keep it up till we see another trophy comes April. KYoung - he has it all. Thanks for coming to KU! This will be another great & definitely emotional #seniornight. Rock Chalk!

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Joel Thomas 1 year, 7 months ago

The worst part of the season is that it's almost over. TCU seems like 10 years ago.

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LAJayhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

I'm still going to blame you if he goes elsewhere. ;-)

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lothario64118 1 year, 7 months ago

I hope he doesn't lead Self into believing KU is the school. This could be another Tarc at Zona.

I'm sure he would be 'promosed' to start at Texas, UF, or NCSU.

Ugh.

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Robert Brock 1 year, 7 months ago

Randle won TAPPS (wimpy Justin Beaver-type private schools) 5A. Not UIL 5A.

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RJ King 1 year, 7 months ago

I'm still shaken at the thought of LAJayhawk's head literally exploding.

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Scott MacWilliams 1 year, 7 months ago

To the Senior Hawks, Thanks for all your incredible work and dedication during your time here. We have all been so glad that you chose to come the KU and become part of the greatest family in all of basketball.

We will always cheer for you and pull for you wherever you play ball, and in whatever career path you take after you're done playing. Hey, Scooter Barry retired at 40! so you never know how long you can keep at the game, right?

But here's the hard part. You have to play through Senior Night, and it can be really tough. We've seen a lot of great players at AFH over the years, and sometimes they really have a hard time keeping their focus on that night. I don't know what advice to give you, other than we will always, ALWAYS!!! be on your side. So try to just relax and enjoy the game, let it come to you, and everything will be good.

Rock Chalk, Senior Hawks!!!

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Michael Luby 1 year, 7 months ago

This Senior class has really made their mark on KU basketball. It is a mark that will stand the test of time for many many years, regardless of what happens the rest of this season. That being said, I have a great feeling about whats to come. Rock Chalk Seniors and Ben! Thank you in advance for a great season! I thoroughly enjoyed getting a chance to meet you all in person after the Richmond game this season. Ive got a ball with every name and jersey # on it that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
Back in 2008, Kansas had their Senior night against TT. They came out and had a blast and in the process gave the visiting team the biggest loss they had to that point. Come out ready to play monday, have a blast, our fans will be loud, the visiting team will not know what hit them.

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Michael Luby 1 year, 7 months ago

Oh yah, one more thing. It doesnt really matter much if Wiggins doesnt come here. Weve got guys coming in and guys returning who can ball just as well for our perimeter. We really need Randle and Randle needs us. He's got to come to KU!

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jaybate 1 year, 7 months ago

This team has always had three question marks standing between it and greatness.

Will Elijah's knees get strong enough to play well at point? They have.

Will Naadir become a credible backup point guard? He has.

Will Perry Ellis become a credible rotation big that can play big minutes when a starter gets fouled up, and be productive enough to help the team to a win in the Madness.? To be determined.

Perry has gotten incrementally better, after a deep descent into freshman big hell, but he has yet to hang with a very good player in a money role for 20 minutes as he will likely have to do once in the Madness, if kU were to run for a ring.

The last conference games should give him a few more shots at an incremental improvement, which he did not make yesterday.

The conference tourney's 3 in 3 days format could give shot at a dry run for his role in the Madness.

If he can put together even one solid performance in the conference tourney, he should be ready for his rendezvous with destiny.

And this team should be ready for it's climb to the mountain top.

Go, Perry, go!

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oldalum 1 year, 7 months ago

I keep thinking he just needs to get stronger. That was some pretty physical play yesterday, and he often has trouble holding his own when that's the case. The talent's there. I think we just need to be patient. And maybe we'll be lucky with our opponents in the tournament.

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John Randall 1 year, 7 months ago

I think Perry has the strength to do more of what we need of him, but this year is the first year he's needed to use it all the time. Some of the time, it seems he's not willing to put the hammer down – as if it wouldn't be fair to use everything he has. In addition, he hasn't seemed to come very far in dealing with criticism that he never got before this year, so we may be very close to witnessing an epiphany – maybe the next few weeks, maybe a year away.

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Dee Shaw 1 year, 7 months ago

Having a hard time understanding why Wiggins and Randle wouldn't come here. Why not. Next year we will have a whole new starting 5. Withey, Johnson, Young, Releford and McClemore are all gone. Rio Adams is gone. He will transfer. Talking about coming in and having playing time. We must understand that Randle and Wiggins are one and done players. Why not recruit them and persuade them and sell them on its your team. I really believe KU is the leaders for both players. Yes I am a homer but just look at all the teams involved and KU makes the most sense for playing and winning. I don't know maybe I have drunk to much of the KU kool-aid. Anyone else see what I'm talking about. Do you jeopardize these two players for just one season. According to the experts Wiggins is a complete stud. Next years starting five? Interesting to think about. A complete new team.

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hawk_of_ages 1 year, 7 months ago

I really think it's tacky to come on here and predict that one of our kids is going to transfer, while we're trying to lay down the red carpet for some trendy new recruit. Freshman year is tough for almost every point guard, as it was for RussRob, Chalmers, EJ, and Tharpe. Let's back off this kind of loose talk and let Rio figure it out for himself.

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Jack Wilson 1 year, 7 months ago

Perses .. I think you're correct in your logic, but incorrect in your conclusion. My bet is that Adams will transfer. Ego. Drama. Not buying in. Just my opinion. I hope he doesn't transfer. He could start next season.

Again, your logic is perfect. I just doubt that Adams grasps it.

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COHawk10 1 year, 7 months ago

I neither hope nor believe Adams will transfer. He's going to be a baller.

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Michael Johnson 1 year, 7 months ago

if Wiggins is visiting today, does that mean he will of won't be at Mondays game?

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lothario64118 1 year, 7 months ago

He'll be here tomorrow for the TT game. He came a day early like most all the visiting recruits do. But for the TT game? Yikes.

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justinryman 1 year, 7 months ago

There was a play that Withey should get credit for a block on. A wing player got the ball about 10ft away with his back turned to the rim, when her turned he saw Jeff a cmon' and jumped and dropped the ball for a travel.

Is there a stat out there for scaring the ball away? Jeff could lead the nation in that category.

Everyone is talking about the # of assist for KU and it is a great number, but what about team blocks?

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Machawk 1 year, 7 months ago

Scott Drew will probably sweep in at the last second and snatch Wiggins and Randle so they can play for the most inept coach ever along with their clueless fans. Totally blew the game with KSU last night.

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JakeBarnes 1 year, 7 months ago

"the most inept coach ever along with their clueless fans. Totally blew the game with KSU last night."

Absolutely correct!!! BU had the momentum and should have played for the tie to win it in overtime. With one second left too much of a gamble even if it worked. I've seen Drew contribute to several BU losses this year. Plus, he has squandered a lot of talent.

I hope you are wrong about getting Wiggins and Randle.

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shinguard 1 year, 7 months ago

Just tweeted 30 minutes ago: "time for a change"

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JakeBarnes 1 year, 7 months ago

I wish Gary or someone would run a poll on which KU starter has had the least anticipated year by contributing the most to KU's strong showing considering his play the previous year. I think it is Young, not Withey, who indicated last year what we might expect this year. Since McLemore didn't play last year he isn't included, but I thought he would have a good year, just not as good as it has been. Of course, Relford has been good but I knew that and Johnson, despite his up and down games, has played about as I thought he would. I never had the slightest inkingly that Young would contribute so much.

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Robin Smith 1 year, 7 months ago

I say a tie between Young and Tharpe

many though Ellis would start over Young and many though Tharpe would transfer.

I think relative to both presumptions they have equally outplayed the predictions from season to season

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oldalum 1 year, 7 months ago

I remember when people on here were determined that Johnson was going to transfer.

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jaybate 1 year, 7 months ago

I expected Young to beat out Ellis once KY played a couple games. Perry was only rushed into service, because with EJ not able to score due to injury, more scoring was needed than Kevin could provide. Kevin was better in every other way. Now that EJ can score finally, we'll see see less Perry and more KY, because the team can now better afford KY.

Tharpe is the guy who has made the biggest nonlinear leap and so most exceeded my expectations. His defense is now credible, his trey touch is slowly dialing in, and the team is often stronger for brief butts with him at point and EJ at 2. Not for long bursts, but for short ones.

Naadir is a great breakthrough!

I am also surprised that Ben has lived up to hype on offence, but not quite on defense, though his defense is adequate.

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 7 months ago

My breakthrough....I didn't believe we would have so many "Coaches Sons" games!!! :)

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jaybate 1 year, 7 months ago

ye of little nepotism faith. :-)

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Eric Baker 1 year, 7 months ago

Hey, Andrew Wiggins' older brother Nick Wiggins plays for Wichita State. Maybe Andrew would want to be reasonably close to his brother for a year?

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Rockchalk_Mom 1 year, 7 months ago

Didn't Zach Peters transfer out?

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Gil Ek 1 year, 7 months ago

Drove 509.6 miles from Dallas the previous weekent to Self's visit to watch Randall play in College Station. Then to Austin to have 30 minute lunch with daughter then back to Dallas. Saturday game was his first full game since foot injury. Had good second half and 10 points as that win put them in the Final Four. Unbelievable physical ability that would look great in Crimson and Blue. I didn't look quite like JayBird but was dressed like a KU billboard sitting a few rows behind the PCA bench. Friends went to the finals and said he was awesome. With Coach Self and Hudy, he could be another lottery pick in a year.

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