Having No. 1-ranked Andrew Wiggins and five other highly regarded freshmen on campus could assist Kansas University’s basketball coaches in their recruiting efforts this school year.
“Yes, I think so,” KU coach Bill Self said, asked if signing so many top propects in the Class of 2013 might attract others in ’14, ’15 and down the line. “The more kids you sign that advance and go on to play the next level is the best for recruiting, but there is no question that kids want to go where other good players are playing. There are many other schools that can stake that claim, but we are certainly one of them.”
KU — which has had six first-round picks in the past four NBA Drafts, including one-and-dones Ben McLemore and Xavier Henry — will have three stellar senior prospects in town for Friday’s Late Night in the Phog (6:30 p.m., Allen Fieldhouse).
They are: No. 4-ranked (by Rivals.com) Cliff Alexander, 6-8 power forward from Chicago Curie High; No. 12 Kelly Oubre, 6-7 shooting guard from Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev.; and No. 17 Malik Pope, 6-8 small forward from Laguna Creek High in Elk Grove, Calif.
Alexander recently tweeted his top six as KU, Michigan State, Illinois, Memphis, DePaul and Arizona.
Last weekend, he competed for Team USA in the 3-on-3 World Championships in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The squad was eliminated by Lithuania in the Round of 16 and finished with a 7-1 record. The team consisted of Alexander, future Tennessee player Larry Austin, Jr. (Springfield, Ill.); future Colorado player Dominique Collier (Denver) and future Cleveland State player DeMonte Flannigan (Cleveland).
“It’s a lot faster, and there’s a 12-second shot clock,” Alexander told USA Basketball in comparing 3-on-3 hoops to 5-on-5. “I enjoy playing it a lot. I played back home with some of my friends at the park, but it’s nothing like this.”
Alexander will visit Illinois on Oct. 25-26.
Oubre, who is originally from Houston, will visit Kentucky for its Big Blue Madness on Oct. 18. He’s also considering Florida, Georgetown, Louisville, Oregon, UConn and UNLV, but has not set up any visits to other schools, many considering this a KU-UK battle.
“For a lack of a better word, they’re front-runners. I wouldn’t say either one is in front of the other. It’s pretty much neck and neck,” Oubre’s dad, Kelly, Sr., told Sportingnews.com.
Pope, who also has Gonzaga, San Diego State, Arizona, Washington, USC, Oregon, UCLA and California on his list, recently broke his leg, the same leg he fractured last season.
“A long and lean wing with deep jump shooting ability and high end athleticism, Pope is a bit of a mystery man. He showed great promise as a junior before an injury cost him his rising senior summer. Started his senior year with another leg surgery and needs a chance to get healthy,” wrote Eric Bossi of Rivals.com.
KU, which has two scholarships to give in recruiting — for senior Tarik Black and certain one-and-done Wiggins — may have more scholarships to award if other players turn pro or transfer. No. 1-ranked Jahlil Okafor, 6-10 from Chicago Whitney Young, and No. 5 Tyus Jones, 6-1 from Apple Valley (Minn.) High, will visit on Oct. 18-19. No. 6 Myles Turner, 6-11 from Euless High in Trinity, Texas, has yet to finalize a visit date. He is attending a USA Basketball event this weekend in Colorado Springs, thus cannot attend Late Night.
Classic tickets available: A limited number for the Champions Classic, which pits Kentucky vs. Michigan State (6:30 p.m.) and KU versus Duke (8:30) on Nov. 12 at Chicago’s United Center, will go on sale today. Tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com, by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 or by visiting the United Center box office.