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Thursday, September 26, 2013

And so it begins: Freshman Wiggins, Jayhawks set for season

Media members crowd around the highly-touted Kansas freshman, Andrew Wiggins during Media Day on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Media members crowd around the highly-touted Kansas freshman, Andrew Wiggins during Media Day on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

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Sitting on a raised chair, facing dozens of reporters, a weary Andrew Wiggins held court with the media for 30 minutes Wednesday afternoon in the southwest corner of Allen Fieldhouse.

The 6-foot-8 Kansas University freshman shooting guard, who has been under the weather the past couple of days — “I don’t know what I’ve got,” he said — never considered calling in sick with so many local, national and international (one TV crew from Canada) media members in town to meet with the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2013 on men’s basketball media day.

“I kind of forget about it when I’m practicing, but after that it hits me,” said Wiggins, his eyes watering because of a bug that’s had him chugging a lot of orange juice of late.

Even at less than 100 percent, he said he found all the attention flattering and humbling.

“It’s cool. Any kid would like it. I think I’m just blessed to be in this position,” Wiggins said.

Wiggins, who is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, told the media he’s not thinking about that much right now.

“I like college a lot. I’m having fun. A lot of people say college is when you are having the best time of your life,” Wiggins said. “It’s been great. Classes have been going well. Practice has been going well, so I’m enjoying it. Lawrence is a nice place. It’s a small town. The people show a lot of love, appreciation,” added the Thornhill, Ontario, native.

He was quick to speak of the big picture when asked his goals for his almost-certain one-and-done season at KU.

“I’ve got a lot of expectations for the team,” Wiggins said. “We’re a young team, but I know we can do a lot of damage. Play hard, win the Big 12, just win it all.”

Wiggins — who averaged 23.4 points and 11.2 rebounds last season for Huntington (W. Va.) Prep (30-3) — says he’s not bothered by being called the best high school player since LeBron James.

“There’s pressure. Everyone thinks about it, but I try to block it out,” Wiggins said. “I know I can’t please everybody, so I just try to please the people around me that I know — my family, friends. This year when I have bad games or good games, people are going to love me, people are going to hate me, but my family (including brother, Nick, a Wichita State senior) is going to be there regardless for me every time.”

Asked by a Canadian reporter specifically about James and Kevin Durant, Wiggins said modestly: “They know of me. That’s interesting. That’s a blessing, too — to have the best players in the world know about you.”

There’s been talk by some NBA writers that teams might “tank” this season in order to get a shot at Wiggins atop the NBA Draft board.

“I don’t really think about it too much,” Wiggins said. “I know no NBA team will just give the season up to get somebody, because I know people in the NBA. You can’t tell the players not to play hard against somebody. They are going to play hard regardless because they want to win. It’s every athlete’s nature. We want to win.”

Wiggins has the skills to lead the Jayhawks to a lot of victories.

“All he has to do is jump. He’s skying over everybody,” senior Niko Roberts said of Wiggins’ performance in pick-up games. “He can do a lot of things. I think people will be surprised at the things he can do.”

“He’ll make some moves in pickup where you are just kind of, ‘Wow,’ where he shows off his athleticism,” sophomore Tyler Self noted, “whether on the fast break, catching alley-oop passes or getting offensive rebounds. What is showing most so far is his athleticism.”

As far as off the court ...

“He is probably the most uncocky, smartest player I’ve been around, especially for somebody who has the talent level he has,” said point guard Roberts, who roomed with Wiggins at Jayhawker Towers during June and July before moving off campus for his senior year. “He doesn’t really talk a lot. I’d walk into his room, and he’d just give me a big smile.”

Wiggins’ current roommate, Tyler Self, added: “He’s kind of a quiet guy. I think he has to be comfortable around you before he lets his personality show. It’s fun being his roommate. He’s pretty normal I’d say. He plays a little Xbox, makes some food. He’s real laid-back, modest. He fits in very well with this team.”

Bill Self, rates Wiggins a “10” on coachability.

“All of our young kids have been 10s,” Self said. “This has been a great group to work with, and if there is stubbornness, it has been strictly from a competitive standpoint, which I find to be pretty attractive. There hasn’t been any stubbornness from a wanting-to-learn standpoint.”

Self said Wiggins simply needs to bring it on every play.

“One thing with Andrew (Wiggins), he showed flashes of dominance in high school, but he didn’t do it on a consistent basis. He’s a guy that relies on athletic ability and turning it on when it needs to be turned on,” Self said. “But when you get to this level and even at a very high level of high-quality ball, you have a lot of guys who play that way and you will never get it turned on. And so he has to become a consistent guy who needs to impact every possession in whatever way, shape or form he can. He’s got to learn to compete in order to win every possession.”

Wiggins, who said he’s noticed “everybody is bigger, faster and stronger in college,” tries to be a sponge around Self.

“He is a players’ coach. He’s taught me a lot since I’ve been here, on and off the court,” Wiggins said. “It’s been a joy playing for him so far.”

And a joy being around his 17 teammates.

“This team ... we all roll as one unit,” Wiggins said. “Everybody is cool. Nobody is left out.”

Comments

Ralster Jayhawk 6 months, 4 weeks ago

...watching Mike Kryzyewski down the baseline absolutely WORKING the refs probably is Self's other red-detonation-button...hehe...

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Ralster Jayhawk 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Wish some reporter would ask Self in that classic army-navy-game voice: "So, coach, do you think we'll beat Michigan State this year...?" (That might just find the big-red-button on our man Self...)

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William Blake 6 months, 4 weeks ago

I can't wait to see this lineup:

Mason, Selden, Wiggins, Eliis and Black.

This lineup is, without doubt, is the most bruising lineup Self (and probably Kansas) has ever had.

Let's play "Extreme Muscle Ball!" (thx JB)

Imagine this lineup... All 5 guys are serious physical specimens who can muscle to the rim.

Why why why can't we play Izzo this year? Well... maybe in March...

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Tippyhawk 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Can anyone direct me as to how to bypass or eliminate the Google survey. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Robert Robinson 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Can I watch late night on WOW cable?

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Chris Shaw 6 months, 4 weeks ago

I haven't read all the posts, but Wiggins seems to have some "Brandon Rush" like personality to him with far superior athletic talent and skill.

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Tony Bandle 6 months, 4 weeks ago

1 is the loneliest number...

I just love this Land of the Giants type face!! :)

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Jake Waddle 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Please tell me those are just practice jerseys......

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Reuben_J_Cogburn 6 months, 4 weeks ago

You know the best part about all of this hype?

Perry Ellis.

I love that he's getting lost in the fray, because he's going to be the surprise killer on this team. The kid is primed for a tremendous year, and it will work to his advantage that teams will be keying on the likes of Wiggins and Embiid.

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Tony Bandle 6 months, 4 weeks ago

My dream is to drive through Columbia, Missouri and spit out the window, flip the bird and moon the campus....oh wait.....I've already done that!! :)

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Harlan50 6 months, 4 weeks ago

All of the Jayhawks seem to have great attitudes. What a blessing it is for us to have Andrew Wiggins, even if it is only for one year. I just hope that all of the players will be able to fulfill all of their dreams in life, whatever they may be.

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seventytwohawk 7 months ago

Have been thinking about last season lately and have come to the conclusion that ball handling was a major factor in the success of the team. For CS to win 30+ games again with a team on which no one could really handle the ball well for his position, was superb coaching and game management. The fact that we were able to hide the deficiency and keep teams with quicker guards from pressing us with sustained success was a fortunate in the extreme. In watching the development of Tharpe last year, I was impressed with his handles and with the improvement in defense and maturity feel point guard is in good hands. As much as I enjoyed the athleticism and vibrancy of BMac, he could not dribble in traffic, and that was also the only real flaw is Travis' game also. Selden, at least in the all-star games we have seen looks like a much better ball handler than BMac and Wiggins also does not seem to have trouble dribbling among players. Perry was improving significantly at the end of the year in all areas and did not turn the ball over with charges, etc. as earlier in the season. I don't have a clue about Black's skills, but the center should not have to worry too much about dribbling in space and can use positioning to protect the ball around the basket. Of course there are other issues in basketball; aggression, shooting, composure, etc., but with the ball handling skills of this team, CS will at least have an opportunity to utilize plays in which the 2008 team excelled (alley oops, drives and dishes, etc. Really looking forward to this season!

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Ryan Houston 7 months ago

I speculate that running Point guard will be much easier this year. To start, we have more offensive threats that can draw double teams, such as, Wiggins, Selden, and Ellis. Not only that but we have more ball handlers. It has been said a number of times that Selden is capable ball handler. Also depending the rotation you could have two to three really good ball handlers out on the court. Which makes Thorpe’s Job a ton easier. With sharp shooters like Frankamp, Tharpe will not have to put up such bad shots. I think everyone on this team is pretty efficient on the offensive end. But mostly that is just speculation, and there will be times Tharpe makes bone head plays. But if he has improved at all during the off season, then I would bet we are light years better at point then we where last year.

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Michael Luby 7 months ago

Wiggins' hair in the group photo is absolutely priceless!

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Lance Cheney 7 months ago

Tyler Self is Wiggins' roommate? I'm guessing that is no coincidence. I'm assuming he is going to be an extension of Coach Self and do his best to keep Wiggins (and consequently, our university) somewhat protected from the shady underworld of college sports.

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Tony Bandle 7 months ago

Check out the small photo and look at the guns on Perry. Somebody spent a lot of time in the weight room.

Put me down on the record right now that, for all the hype for the new guys we are getting and justifiably so, however, come February, we'll all be talking about Perry!!!

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REHawk 7 months ago

Scary photo, a freshman surrounded by so many reporters and microphones. Wiggins is blessed with the capacity to hold up to such scrutiny with extremely wise statements, for extended media time even when he is not feeling well. Flip side, of course, will he be able to handle such attention well, introspective down moments after lackluster performances or team losses? The mics will always loom ominously near. His recruitment and subsequent collegiate play should certainly draw or affect the attention of topflight high school players to the Jayhawk program for several seasons.

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jaybate 7 months ago

Dear online editors and web master/matrix,

Using new iphone OS7 and link to desktop version of site no longer works.

Otherwise, still the same great site and ease of use!

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FearlessJayhawk 7 months ago

If there is one thing I would tell Wiggins and the entire team: enjoy the ride and make the most of every moment because it will be over so quickly. I hope they enjoy it so much they will all want to do it again next year.

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Woody Cragg 7 months ago

Hope you're right jb, AW3 left us salivating for more of everything last season. More minutes, points, & D. And we all know that D is the key to everything else for Bill. Quicker, much smeuoooooother footwork to keep his guy in front will have to be the biggest improvement for the "Chief's" ringer. I can already imagine how much difficulty some of the more excitable broadcasters will have with 2 Andy's on the floor at the same time. Is a given they won't be the only ones either.

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Jack Wilson 7 months ago

If you listen to coach Self, there is a lot there. Some of it may not be precisely stated, but here are some conclusions I have come to (and my positions on these topics haven't really changed at all):

1] Tharpe - He is the definitive starter at PG. Self had said on the radio at halftime of the football game that Tharpe had a "great offseason" and cited him as having the best offseason. He's the man. The chatter about Mason pushing him for minutes is simply further notice to Tharpe not to slip.

2] Mason - He is in the rotation as the back-up PG. No mention of Frankamp as that next option. It is a two horse discussion. Selden is referenced as "emergency" only at PG.

3] Rotation - Self says a solid 9. So not 10, or 11. I have said 8+. I still believe that there will be a 9th guy that is treated like Traylor was at the end of last year. Not part of the rotation, but 7-10 minutes. Tharpe, Selden, Wiggins, Mason -- solid 4 perimeter. Black, Ellis, Embiid -- solid 3 in the post. Battle between White/Greene/Frankamp for last perimeter spot, and likely Traylor for the last post spot (and likely guy for the "+" minutes come conference play). I also believe that Self intentions for 9, and my prediction of 8+, could tighten even further at the end of the season. The key is separation between guys at the back end of the rotation, and the starters ... Self's trust level.

4] Redshirts - Self says likely one. Obvious, isn't it? White, Greene, or Frankamp. Betting now that it is Frankamp. There is reference Self wondering if he can get his shot in game situations .. I'm sure he can. But it is an interesting comment. Self says it could be two redshirts-- has to come from these guys. Some suggested Mason, but back-up PG finds the rotation.

5] Lucas - Self's comments on Lucas are not "he's a monster", or "no one can handle him." It's that Lucas is farther along than he expected. And that he's going to be a solid player. Not, "he will play a lot this season." I think he's the odd guy out on the big man front. But he's only a freshman, low ranked.

6] Embiid - I have to point this out. Embiid's feet are something we discussed here, based on youtube videos. As I've mentioned, watching video of big guys can be much more helpful than smaller guys. Not the dunks over the 6'4" tuba player inserted at center, but the use of left and right hands, the athleticism, the dexterity, the footwork. I contrast that with what we saw of Traylor on videos. Really, just saw pure athleticism. No real "skills." With Embiid, you see "skills."

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jaybate 7 months ago

No one mentions outside shooting in a positive way.

AW3 is getting strokes.

Inference: WIGS HAS TO HAVE A DEFENSE STRETCHER ON THE OPPOSITE WING to maximize his "athleticism, because at this stage of development, Wigs is not BENMAC from trey, and Selden is not as far along as Self expected.

AW3, your rendezvous with destiny is now.

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hotrodm 7 months ago

This team needs to stay humble and not be like one of Kentucky's teams that lost in the NIT. Being great recruits helps, but there is no guarantee for success.

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Dirtyphog 7 months ago

Get health and stay humble young fella, great ambassador for KU basketball.

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ParisHawk 7 months ago

Coach Self has given Wiggins his most trusted team members as roommates. Now he has a Tyler Insurance policy on him.

All of the quotes in this article are like honey butter on an English muffin: so good you are enjoying the first bite and already thinking about the second.

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jvhawk22 7 months ago

People who have season tickets get tickets to late night so they don't have to wait in line all day. Got lucky last year and got some tickets and we walked up right before late night started and got in. I know it made some people mad! There was plenty of people still trying to get in

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BringBackMark 7 months ago

Everything starts with Bill Self. Amazing how we can have such a class act in basketball and, well, what can you say about Weis. Anyway, this is going to be a great year to be a Jayhawk hoops fan. Even if we lose a few during the growing period I can't wait to see this team hit it's stride.

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John Fitzgerald 7 months ago

I like how Wiggins is humble. It really shows his character and I think it's going to make him shine even more. I also think it's great that he's staying close to Self and learning from him. I don't think Calapari's kids care to learn much from him, they just know they can play their game and get paid under the table. Wiggins also mentions "This team ... we roll as a unit." That means Self has done an extraordinary job of bringing this team together. I'm optimistic about this team but also know we're going to witness a few growing pains. Either way I think the outcome will be nothing less than fantastic. RCJH!!

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Cmill1221 7 months ago

Does anyone know what the deal is for Late Night? Last year I came home that weekend and was late getting up there and at the door they told me I needed a ticket. I was like WTF!?!? Anyone know what the deal is w/ that or what I will need to get in this year?

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LaFriends 7 months ago

Tyler Self and Niko Roberts are impressed.... :)

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