Andrew Wiggins talks about "dream come true" of going No. 1 in 2014 NBA Draft
KU coach Bill Self thrilled for Wiggins, Embiid and Kansas after Jayhawk duo goes first and third in 2014 NBA Draft in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Kansas University’s domination of the 2014 NBA draft had coach Bill Self beaming in the Big Apple on Thursday night.
“Obviously it means a lot for our program to have two guys to be so well thought of and drafted so high,” Self, KU’s 12th-year coach, said in a national phone teleconference from New York after Andrew Wiggins was selected No. 1 overall by Cleveland and Joel Embiid No. 3 by Philadelphia.
“We’ve had others taken high in the draft without question, never two this high. Coming in the same year with two kids that are as good a kids as they are players, I think it bodes well for our program and certainly gives a lot of Kansas fans a lot to brag about,” Self added.
Prior to Thursday, KU’s top pick in the Self era was Thomas Robinson at No. 5 in the 2012 draft. That was the same year University of Kentucky players went 1-2 overall.
“I’d have been just as proud of him if he went two. I’m not more proud of Andrew than I was Ben or Thomas the year before, or the twins,” Self said. Ben McLemore went No. 7 a year ago. Markieff and Marcus Morris went 13 and 14 in 2011.
“I think there’s something about that label being No. 1 (that) I think will certainly bode well for our program. As many great players as Kansas has had, it’s been 26 years since we’ve had the No. 1 pick (Danny Manning, 1988). We don’t want to wait another 26 years, but it’s certainly very exciting,” Self said.
This has to be positive news for recruiting.
“No question one knock that has been used against us recruiting with other programs is the fact, ‘Yeah, they’ve had a lot of pros but their guys aren’t one-and-done guys.’ Here we’ve had three one-and-dones — 1, 3 and 7 in the last two years. I don’t think anybody can say that anymore,” Self said. “Not that that was a big deal. I think it does help recruiting when you have freshmen projected to be one-and-dones go as high as they have.”
Self had an inkling Wiggins would be taken No. 1.
“I talked to Cleveland two days ago and talked to them again today,” Self said. “The talk today led me to believe that was the direction they were possibly leaning. I was very surprised pleasantly with Philadelphia with Joel until I spoke with their GM about two hours before the draft. The questions he asked me ... I told the guys I was with, I said, ‘I guarantee Jo is in play at 3,’ and sure enough he was.”
Self thinks both players fit in well with their NBA teams.
“The Sixers already have another big guy in Nerlens Noel, who hasn’t played yet because of injury,” Self said. “They are a franchise that knows it doesn’t happen overnight. I guarantee when both are healthy it won’t be near as easy to score against them around the basket.”
About Wiggins in Cleveland, Self noted: “With Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving and Andrew and other guys, that’s a pretty formidable backcourt, without question, especially to be so young. I think he’ll fit in great. He’ll be part of the rebuilding process. I know they are very very interested in winning now and becoming a playoff team immediately. I think Andrew will certainly aid in accomplishing that goal. He gets a chance to play with a point guard (Irving) who has a great reputation and has an abundance of talent. I think that will be very exciting for him.”
Self said he didn’t know when 7-footer Embiid would be able to play for the Sixers. He had surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his foot.
“I don’t know if he will play this year or look at getting him back sometime around the first of the year,” Self said. “That will be up to the rehab process and brass in Philadelphia.”
Black goes undrafted: Former Kansas center Tarik Black went undrafted after all 60 picks were called on Thursday. Black, 6-9, 260 pounds, has said he’d like to play professional basketball before exploring other opportunities such as pro football.
Maker visits: Thon Maker, a 7-foot junior center from Carlisle School in Martinsville, Virginia and his 6-foot-10 sophomore brother, Matur, visited both KU and Missouri this week.
Their mentor, Ed Smith, told Rivals.com that the Maker brothers will visit Duke on June 30. When Thon heads to Los Angeles for the Adidas Nations event in July he will likely visit UCLA and Arizona. In August, Smith will take the brothers to North Carolina State and Georgetown and possibly Kentucky and Indiana.
Thon, who is ranked No. 3 nationally by Rivals.com, may reclassify from the Class of 2016 to 2015.
“We have to sit down with our school and come up with a plan. We have to see the possibilities and go from there once the school year starts, It is not as easily done as it is said with what the NCAA has to do,” Smith told Rivals.