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10 years of Big 12 supremacy: 2014

KUsports.com graphic by Janella Williams

KUsports.com graphic by Janella Williams

From the time of Big 12 divisions, through realignment and the subtraction/addition of teams and a new 10-team format, one thing has remained constant in the conference for the past decade: Kansas University's men's basketball team has always finished in first place.

All week long, we've been looking back at KU's 10 consecutive Big 12 championships by highlighting the top players and moments of each conference schedule, from 2005 to today.

2014

Big 12 record: 14-4

Top 5 scorers

(Stats through March 7)

Andrew Wiggins, 16.0 points, 5.8 rebounds

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins gets up for a dunk over Kansas State guard Marcus Foster during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins gets up for a dunk over Kansas State guard Marcus Foster during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Perry Ellis, 13.2 points, 6.4 rebounds

Kansas forward Perry Ellis elevates to the bucket between Oklahoma defenders D.J. Bennett (31) and Tyler Neal (15) during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis elevates to the bucket between Oklahoma defenders D.J. Bennett (31) and Tyler Neal (15) during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

Joel Embiid, 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.6 blocks

Kansas center Joel Embiid delivers a thunderous dunk before Texas guard Javan Felix during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Joel Embiid delivers a thunderous dunk before Texas guard Javan Felix during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Wayne Selden, 10.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists

Kansas guard Wayne Selden raises up the fieldhouse during a timeout after hitting a three against West Virginia during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden raises up the fieldhouse during a timeout after hitting a three against West Virginia during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Naadir Tharpe, 9.2 points, 5.1 assists

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe puts up a shot over Oklahoma guard Jordan Woodard during the second half on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe puts up a shot over Oklahoma guard Jordan Woodard during the second half on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 memorable moments

No. 1 — Decade of dominance: Kansas earns share of 10th straight Big 12 title

Kansas head coach Bill Self raises up two palms in light of the the Jayhawks' tenth-straight conference title following their 83-75 win over Oklahoma on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self raises up two palms in light of the the Jayhawks' tenth-straight conference title following their 83-75 win over Oklahoma on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

  • Naadir Tharpe (19 points) hit 6 of 7 shots and scored 12 of the Jayhawks' final 18 points down the stretch to defeat Oklahoma, 83-75, at Allen Fieldhouse, where KU clinched a share of its 10th straight Big 12 championship.

“Naadir closed the game the way point guards are supposed to close. The last 10 minutes is as good as Naadir has played since he’s been at KU. All teams that have a chance at having a great season have guys that can close, when you don’t run offense and put the ball in his hands. It’s what great teams have.”

— Bill Self

No. 2 — New territory: Andrew Wiggins' first game-winner lifts Jayhawks

  • Andrew Wiggins scored a game-high 19 points, his last two coming when he picked up a loose ball in the paint and put it in the basket with 1.7 seconds remaining in a 64-63 Kansas victory at Texas Tech.

“It was slippery, like it slipped on the way up. I just had to guide it in… It bounced high. I was worried about it, but it went in."

— Andrew Wiggins, on game-winner

No. 3 — Family guy: Tharpe excels with mother, brothers watching KU's home victory

  • Frank Mason foiled a would-be buzzer-beater from Le'Bryan Nash to finish off an 80-78 Kansas home victory over Oklahoma State in which Naadir Tharpe scored 21 points and dished six assists.

“It was accomplishment definitely more than relief. They’ve been talking about Oklahoma State and Kansas for a while. Since the beginning of the year, that’s all we’ve been hearing. It’s all we’ve been hearing even before conference play started, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma State. It’s more an accomplishment we went out there and played our game more than anything.”

— Naadir Tharpe

2014 BIG 12 STANDINGS

Kansas, 14-4

Oklahoma, 12-6

Texas, 11-7

Iowa State, 11-7

Kansas State, 10-8

Baylor, 9-9

West Virginia, 9-9

Oklahoma State, 8-10

Texas Tech, 6-12

TCU, 0-18

10 years of Big 12 supremacy

Monday: 2005 and 2006

Tuesday: 2007 and 2008

Wednesday: 2009 and 2010

Thursday: 2011 and 2012

Friday: 2013 and 2014

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No Jo Jo?: What an Embiid-less lineup would mean for Kansas

Kansas center Joel Embiid swats away a shot from West Virginia forward Devin Williams during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Joel Embiid swats away a shot from West Virginia forward Devin Williams during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

With the news that Kansas University men's basketball center Joel Embiid won't even practice for the next couple of days as he tries to recover from some knee and back issues, it's feasible to think his coach, Bill Self, and the training staff might decide to hold him out for a game or two, if necessary.

The No. 7 Jayhawks (18-6 overall, 9-2 Big 12) lost in overtime at rival Kansas State on Monday with the freshman center limited to 18 minutes.

Looking at the next two games on the schedule — TCU (9-13, 0-10) comes to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday and KU travels to Texas Tech (12-11, 4-6) on Tuesday — they might not miss him quite as much in those matchups. If Kansas decides to give the 7-footer some extended time off to heal, the Jayhawks' next marquee game wouldn't be until Feb. 22 against Texas.

The uncertainty around Embiid's immediate future started becoming evident Monday night, so naturally members of the national media began to speculate on how KU would adjust to the valuable big man's absence, if that is indeed how the situation plays out.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins grabs an offensive rebound over the Kansas State defense during the second half on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 at Bramlage Coliseum.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins grabs an offensive rebound over the Kansas State defense during the second half on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 at Bramlage Coliseum. by Nick Krug

• Brian Hamilton at SI.com wrote that Kansas could still thrive if freshman guard Andrew Wiggins asserts himself on offense.

Hamilton referenced Wiggins' play in the closing seconds of regulation at K-State, when he put back his own miss, as an example of what the 6-foot-8 guard can do with his athleticism.

"…Kansas had a chance because Andrew Wiggins decided to give his team one, and it’s clear by now there’s no harm in the Jayhawks demanding more of that."


He goes on to suggest KU's offense is better off — especially if Embiid is out — with Wiggins taking an active approach.

"Meanwhile, his effective field goal percentage, a measure that takes into account success (or failure) from three-point range, has been up and down. That figure has soared as high as 75 percent against Iowa State on Jan. 29 before plunging to 20.8 percent in the next game, at Texas on Feb. 1. But a correlation between Wiggins’ willingness to be even slightly more selfish, and the offensive efficacy that follows, has become clear."


Obviously, Self knows that more than anyone, and the coach will continue to try and get the best out of his explosive one-and-done guard.

• ESPN.com college basketball reporter Myron Medcalf discussed what an injured Embiid means for Kansas in a video chat.

"That's a big blow for that team," he said.

Medcalf, like many watching the Sunflower Showdown on Monday, thought it was "mysterious" when Self kept his talented center out of the game for extended stretches, even though Embiid wasn't in foul trouble.

He said the key to how this impacts KU depends on how long Embiid is ailing. Medcalf hypothesized it could become more difficult for Kansas to win a 10th straight Big 12 title and/or earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament if he misses much more than a couple games, because he is a "defensive force."

• As far as Embiid's personal longterm value on the basketball court goes, the NBA still loves his potential.

ESPN's Chad Ford has Embiid at the top of his draft big board, at No. 1. ESPN's Jeff Goodman projects Embiid as the top pick in his mock draft, too.

Ford has Wiggins as the No. 2 prospect, and Goodman has him getting chosen third, after Duke's Jabari Parker.

On Ford's board, KU freshman Wayne Selden is 27th. The 6-5 guard goes 22nd in Goodman's mock draft.

• KU's OT loss at K-State dropped the Jayhawks to No. 9 in ESPN.com's power rankings.

Oddly enough, Duke, which lost to Kansas earlier this season and plays in the weaker ACC, has moved past Kansas and up to No. 7.

Over at Gary Parrish's Top 25 (and one) rankings for CBSsports.com, which are updated daily, the Jayhawks are No. 7.

Parrish said he had no reason to drop KU in the rankings because of its six wins against RPI top-30 teams and eight victories against the top 50.

• Finally, here is the Twitter roundup of some of the top media tweets during and after KU's Big Monday loss at K-State.

ESPN's Fran Fraschilla sat courtside for the live broadcast, but had plenty to say afterward.

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Yahoo's Pat Forde enjoyed the atmosphere and competition of the overtime rivalry game.

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Goodman couldn't help but praise Brannen Greene after the freshman guard scored on an offensive rebound and stole the following in-bounds pass for another layup in KU's late rally:

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And, of course, anyone who saw KU's late surge, capped by Wiggins recovering his own miss to tie the game in the final seconds, had to be wowed.

None by Seth Davis

None by Dana O'Neil

Basically, as Medcalf tweeted, who else is looking forward to the Big 12 Tournament?

None by Myron Medcalf

Reply 18 comments from Chad Smith Baldjedi Steve Corder Rockn_chalkn_ku Matt Tait John Randall Texashawk10_2 Tony Bandle Glen Len Shaffer and 1 others

Bill Self tells Seth Davis he’s not interested in coaching in the NBA

Kansas head coach Bill Self talks with guard Brannen Greene during a break in action against TCU on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas head coach Bill Self talks with guard Brannen Greene during a break in action against TCU on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas. by Nick Krug

Very few college basketball coaches own a résumé as impressive as Bill Self's.

Now in his 11th season of leading Kansas University's men's basketball program, Self has a 316-64 record at KU, his teams have won nine-straight Big 12 regular-season championships and six Big 12 tournaments and, of course, he steered the Jayhawks to the 2008 national championship, as well as the 2012 Final Four and three other trips to the Elite Eight (his KU teams are 25-9 in the NCAA tournament).

Difficult as it might be to envision Self coaching any other team, between his consistent success at the college level and the respect his players have for him, it's easy to presume he would make a nice fit as an NBA coach, too, if a professional organization ever came knocking on his door.

Self talked about that very subject on The Seth Davis Show, on CampusInsiders.com.

Davis, a college basketball reporter for Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports, brought up the NBA to Self during a 30-minute interview with the KU coach, and began the discussion by mentioning how the Boston Celtics lured Brad Stevens away from Butler, even though few college coaches are sought after by NBA front offices these days.

Self told Davis he has never received an NBA job offer, and has only had a few people talk to him "generically" about such a scenario. Self added he was happy for Stevens, and he expects Boston's first-year coach to eventually experience success with the Celtics, which should help other college coaches land NBA jobs in the future.

But Self said the NBA isn't something that interests him right now:

"I'm not looking at all. I really believe I've got one of the better coaching jobs in America — pro or college — right here in Lawrence, Kansas. So it would take something really special, and my mindset would have to change, but right now, I'm really enjoying trying to get college kids better. That to me is somethings we take great pride in and something that we all enjoy doing."


The NBA back-and-forth begins around the 23:45 mark of the video, but it's definitely worth checking out in its entirety. Davis also asks Self about the play of Andrew Wiggins, chasing a second national championship and the coach's days as a student at Oklahoma State, when he used to hang out with country music star Garth Brooks.

— Just FYI, the interview took place before KU's loss at Texas, so the topics are more broad than what is going on at this exact moment with the program.

Embiid's former coach talks center's potential

Texas center Cameron Ridley turns for a shot over Kansas center Joel Embiid (21) and guard Wayne Selden during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Texas center Cameron Ridley turns for a shot over Kansas center Joel Embiid (21) and guard Wayne Selden during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

Campus Insiders also had a segment on Jayhawks freshman center Joel Embiid a few days ago.

The discourse, which includes a Q & A with the seven-footer's Rock High School head coach, Justin Harden, provides some insight on Embiid's game and how it began to evolve before he graduated and moved on to Kansas.

Harden describes Embiid as an introvert whose personality changes when he is on the court.

As you'd expect, the conversation inevitably veers toward the subject of the NBA Draft. Harden is asked about the likelihood of Embiid going pro upon the completion of his freshman season. Here is the high school coach's response:

"I don't have any insider information, to be honest, but it's hard for me to believe a kid who comes from an African nation, regardless of their background, to pass up that kind of opportunity. Especially if you're the No. 1 overall pick. We've seen people in football or basketball get hurt, and then kind of lose that status, so I would suggest that he go, because in the NBA, he's only gonna get better."


DraftExpress.com's latest mock draft has Embiid as the top pick in 2014, followed by his KU teammate, Wiggins.

Tournament talk

An 81-69 road loss to Texas on Saturday dropped Kansas to 16-5 overall, 7-1 in the Big 12 and to No. 8 in the latest AP poll.

For the time being at least, the loss also seems to have slightly damaged KU's potential claim for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

In Michael Beller's Bracket Watch, at SI.com, The Jayhawks currently project as a No. 2 seed.

The teams Beller has ahead of KU, up on the No. 1 seed line, are Syracuse (21-0), Arizona (21-1), Wichita State (23-0) and Florida (19-2).

Hard to argue with those choices.

CBSsports.com has Kansas as a No. 2 seed, as well.

The CBS website's No. 1 seeds as of Monday morning are Syracuse, Arizona, Wichita State and San Diego State (19-1).

This time, it's the Aztecs (like the Gators, a team that beat KU in the non-conference) occupying that fourth spot, which seems more open to debate than the other three.

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Kansas and its freshmen are hot topics (as usual) in world of college hoops

Kansas center Joel Embiid battles for position with Iowa State defenders Georges Niang, left, and DeAndre Kane during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Joel Embiid battles for position with Iowa State defenders Georges Niang, left, and DeAndre Kane during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

It's time once again to catch the vibe of the national media's perception of Kansas basketball, by hopping around the Internet and the Twitterverse to see what's out there on the No. 6 Jayhawks — now 16-4 overall and a perfect 7-0 in the Big 12.

We'll start with Eamonn Brennann's latest Wooden Watch list. Brennan blogs and writes about college hoops for ESPN.com, and he has two Jayhawks in his most recent rankings of the nation's best players.

KU freshman center/lion-killer/how-did-he-do-that? specialist Joel Embiid comes in at No. 6, and freshman guard/forward/swingman/dunk-monster Andrew Wiggins cracks the top 10, too

Brennan had this to say about Embiid:

On Wednesday night, I looked up from my laptop early in Kansas’s 92-81 home win over Iowa State just in time to see Embiid take the ball on the left block, engage with the post defender, pivot toward the baseline into his right shoulder and sink a tidy little 6-foot turnaround jumper. It’s possible Embiid has made that exact shot before, but I haven’t seen it. It may have been the first time he attempted it. Here’s the point: This happens all the time.


He offered this about Wiggins:

Here’s the thing about Wiggins: He has been pretty good for most of the season. He hasn't been LeBron James 2.0. He hasn't been perfectly consistent from game to game. But a baseline, his all-around, all-court performance has been immensely solid. Now -- with 56 points in his past two games, 29 of which came Wednesday against Iowa State -- we're starting to see some of the brilliance that had NBA scouts so excited.


Both great points. Kansas seems to be playing a more and more comfortable brand of basketball as a team, and the jumping off point for that development starts with the team's most talented players. As Wiggins and Embiid grow, so does the ceiling for what this team can accomplish — if there even is a ceiling.

BleacherReport.com's Jason King talked with three NBA scouts about the draftability (I don't care if that's not a real word) of a ton of underclassmen in his latest installment of King's Court.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden raises up the fieldhouse during a Jayhawk run against Iowa State during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden raises up the fieldhouse during a Jayhawk run against Iowa State during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

This is some of what one scout had to say about freshman KU guard Wayne Selden:

There’s no question that he needs to come back for his sophomore year. Right now, when you think of Kansas, you think of Wiggins and Embiid. Selden hasn’t done anything to stand out. What’s his niche offensively? He hasn’t shown that he’s a great shooter.


The scout goes into a little more on Selden in King's report, but here are the numbers on Selden's shooting, following KU's Wednesday night home win over Iowa State: Selden has hit 46.4 percent of his shots this season and 36.8 percent from three-point range (25 of 68). In Big 12 play, the freshman guard has connected on 13 of his 36 threes.

In the very latest CBSsports.com Top 25 (and one), which is updated daily, KU is ranked No. 7.

Three teams that have defeated the Jayhawks this season occupy half of the six spots in front of Kansas: No. 6 Villanova, No. 4 Florida and No. 3 San Diego State.

It's been been a little more than a quarter century since Larry Brown coached Kansas to the 1988 national championship, but he will always be associated with the program because of that feat.

In this photo from Nov. 28, 2012, SMU head coach Larry Brown instructs his team against Utah in Salt Lake City. The well-traveled coach — who led Kansas University to the 1988 NCAA crown — has SMU off to a 9-4 start.

In this photo from Nov. 28, 2012, SMU head coach Larry Brown instructs his team against Utah in Salt Lake City. The well-traveled coach — who led Kansas University to the 1988 NCAA crown — has SMU off to a 9-4 start.

Brown, now at SMU, is the oldest coach in Division I. In a piece by Scooby Axson for SI.com, Brown discusses the relative success the Mustangs (16-5 overall, 5-3 American Athletic Conference) have achieved this season.

Here is a snippet from the story:

Tradition? There isn't much to speak of. Fan support? Nowhere to be found. After all, this is a program that has no NCAA tournament appearances in the past 21 years and only 10 NCAA berths in 97 seasons of playing basketball.

"You can walk on campus at Kansas, North Carolina, or UCLA, kids will tackle you," said Brown. "There was so much interest and enthusiasm. [Here] I really couldn't believe it. I kept saying to myself, 'What did we do?'"


Twitter roundup

ESPN's Jeff Goodman had a lot to say about Kansas on Wednesday night.

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Goodman also got into the debate about where Wiggins will be selected in the 2014 NBA Draft.

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Back to the subject of the 2013-14 college hoops season, ESPN's John Gasaway shared some telling numbers on how red-hot KU has been, offensively, in conference play:

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You can almost hear Dick Vitale screaming at his TV, while sitting at home on his couch:

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The Jayhawks, not surprisingly, have the whole college hoops world taking notice. Kentucky beat writer Kyle Tucker tweeted this out:

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However, not every media tweet about KU was based in reality:

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Reply 8 comments from Rich Hetherington Len Shaffer Steve Grimm Plasticjhawk Tony Bandle Vernon Riggs Erich Hartmann

Kansas already in discussion for No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament

Fact: There are 13 games left on the regular-season schedule for Kansas University's No. 8-ranked men's basketball team.

Fact No. 2: The Jayhawks could play as many as three more games in the Big 12 Tournament March 13-15 at Sprint Center, in Kansas City, Mo.

Here's the thing. We all like looking ahead. Who doesn't?

Along those lines, you might want to know that Kansas is on the No. 1 seed line on "Bracket Brad's Big Board" over at Yahoo Sports.

With KU at 14-4, the Jayhawks not only have more losses than fellow projected No. 1 seeds Arizona, Syracuse and Michigan State, but also No. 2s Wisconsin, Villanova, Wichita State and Florida. Kentucky, also at 14-4, is the only other team on the top three seed lines with more than two losses.

Kansas gets the benefit of the doubt with its defeats, due to the weight of a brutal schedule and the No. 1 RPI spot.

For those more concerned with the here and now:

Embiid moving past competition

Kansas center Joel Embiid rejects a shot from Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. Also pictured is Kansas forward Perry Ellis.

Kansas center Joel Embiid rejects a shot from Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. Also pictured is Kansas forward Perry Ellis. by Nick Krug

Yahoo's Pat Forde led off his latest "Forde Minutes" installment discussing how a pair of once less heralded freshmen — Kansas center Joel Embiid and Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis — have caught up with the ballyhooed freshman stars the college hoops world raved about before the season began:

Embiid is drawing the kind of raves once reserved for Anthony Davis, Greg Oden, Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon – the can’t-miss-big-man kind of raves. Of course, Oden did miss (injuries), and Davis is not yet a transformative player, and the sample-size people are basing the grandiose Embiid projections on all of 18 collegiate games. But the lithe athleticism, deft footwork, great hands, soft touch, sharp timing and sheer size are intoxicating ingredients.


As Forde references in the piece, DraftExpress.com currently has Embiid as the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

FYI, the mock draft also includes a pair of the big man's freshman classmates: Andrew Wiggins at No. 2 and Wayne Selden at No. 21.

O'Neil on the Jayhawks

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins pulls up for a shot before Baylor forward Rico Gathers during the second half on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins pulls up for a shot before Baylor forward Rico Gathers during the second half on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil visited Lawrence for the Jayhawks' home wins over Oklahoma State and Baylor, and had no shortage of topics to hit.

In a blog that followed KU's Big Monday victory, O'Neil said KU is beyond worrying about an off night or two from Wiggins:

As Kansas collects its fifth win a row, its fourth against ranked opponents, the story is less and less about Wiggins. The draw isn’t so much to see what the kid can do, but rather what the Jayhawks are doing.


In O'Neil's interview with KU's 7-foot freshman, Embiid, the phenom whose name is on the lips of almost anyone talking about the top pick in the 2014 NBA draft offered an interesting comment on the possibility of playing at the next level:

"I don't know," he said. "I think it would be too overwhelming for me right now. I'm not sure I'm ready."


Check out O'Neil's video interview with Embiid, which accompanied her story.


O'Neil also wrote about how Kansas went from struggling in December to elite in January.

Twitter talk

The biggest question surrounding KU basketball these days seems to be: Who from the Big 12 is going to beat the Jayhawks first? CBS/SI college hoops specialist Seth Davis offered up his theory:

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Davis also had this to say about Embiid, whose NBA stock comes up constantly these days:

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Hey, not everything CBS analyst Doug Gottlieb says/tweets will enrage Kansas basketball fans (unless this does):

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Reply 18 comments from Rich Hetherington Joe Baker Dirk Medema Jessej421 Jayhawkmarshall Stupidmichael Erich Hartmann Chris Shaw Tony Bandle Carnahan and 2 others

SI writer puts KU in ‘Magic Eight’ teams capable of winning national title

Kansas teammates celebrate a three-pointer by point guard Naadir Tharpe, center against Iowa State during the first half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas teammates celebrate a three-pointer by point guard Naadir Tharpe, center against Iowa State during the first half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

Sports Illustrated college hoops scribe Luke Winn this week unveiled his "Magic Eight." Before you say, "So what?" you should know as far as he's concerned, one of the eight teams on this list will win the national championship.

And guess what, the Kansas Jayhawks (12-4 overall, 3-0 Big 12, ranked No. 15) made the cut.

Here are Winn's other potential title winners, some more obvious than others: Arizona, Wisconsin, Syracuse, Kentucky, Florida, Iowa State, Michigan State.

This is why Winn likes the Jayhawks' chances:

"… possible one-and-done freshmen Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Wayne Selden have elevated their games in the opening portion of Big 12 play. Embiid's rim protection and Wiggins' rebounding against Iowa State on Monday were incredible, and if they continue on this trajectory, they'll have a title-caliber defense."


Embiid capable of carrying KU

Kansas center Joel Embiid floats a shot high over Kansas State forward Thomas Gipson during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Joel Embiid floats a shot high over Kansas State forward Thomas Gipson during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

ESPN.com's Myron Medcalf called Embiid "the most important player on the Kansas roster."

As Medcalf points out, the Jayhawks have won six of their last seven and Embiid averaged 13.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in that span.

More from Medcalf:

There is no ceiling for Embiid, who has as much upside as any college basketball player in the country. And against Iowa State on Monday, he seemed to realize it in the second half.

He didn’t just block Dustin Hogue, he robbed him in midair. He passed out of double teams. He dribbled on the baseline and scored.

He affected every possession when he was available.


The key for KU, of course, the ESPN college basketball reporter adds, will be keeping the 7-foot phenom on the floor and out of foul trouble. But it's clear more people are realizing what a force Embiid can become and how he just might make Kansas one of the best team's in the nation by the end of the season.

Jayhawks climbing power rankings

Kansas shot up eight spots, from No. 18 to No. 10, in ESPN.com's latest college basketball power rankings.

The nine teams ahead of KU include three teams that defeated the Jayhawks: No. 9 San Diego State, No. 7 Florida and No. 5 Villanova.

KU's next opponent, Oklahoma State, which comes to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday, sits at No. 8.

Kellogg on finding balance with a young team

CBS college basketball analyst Clark Kellogg discusses KU's struggles in the non-conference in an SI Now video you can watch here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/video/ncaab-video/20140114/2014-01-14-clip05.sportsillustrated/

The discussion on Kansas begins at the 1:30 mark, and addresses how KU seems to be playing better now, with the start of Big 12 action.

Around the 2:45 mark Kellogg gives his opinion of Wiggins and whether he should follow through on his plan to be one-and-done at KU: "At the end of the day, you have to make what you think is the best decision for you, and not allow others to influence that in a negative way."

Draft stock

Arena lights casts various color tones around the arena as teammates Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid have a laugh during a timeout in the first half on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013 in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Arena lights casts various color tones around the arena as teammates Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid have a laugh during a timeout in the first half on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013 in Paradise Island, Bahamas. by Nick Krug

BleacherReport.com's Jason King wrote the biggest threat to Wiggins' once assumed position as the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft appears to be his 7-foot teammate, Joel Embiid.

After covering the Jayhawks' 77-70 win at Iowa State, attended by NBA front-office types, King called ISU coach Fred Hoiberg's declaration of Embiid as the top player in college basketball — Doug McDermott anyone? — "a bit of a stretch."

Longterm NBA value is an entirely different discussion. Here's an excerpt from King's column:

When it comes to pro potential, though, Embiid is the best NBA prospect in college basketball. And after watching Embiid score 16 points, grab nine rebounds and block five shots Monday, I can’t fathom how any team would pass on Embiid with the No. 1 overall pick in this summer’s draft.


Wiggins or Embiid?

Over at Grantland, Andrew Sharp's Freshman Watch piece is titled: "Who's Your Favorite Jayhawk?"

Sharp lists six freshmen to watch in terms of NBA draft potential: UCLA's Zach Levine, Kentucky's Julius Randle, Arizona's Aaron Gordon, Duke's Jabari Parker, and Jayhawks Wiggins and Embiid top the list.

Regarding Wiggins, Sharp writes:

He may not be a Kevin Durant– or LeBron-type superstar, but that’s still his ceiling, and in the meantime the floor is pretty high. He could be a lockdown defender. He’s already a one-man fast break. He could rebound from the wing as well as anyone this side of Durant. He could rain 3s and then cut through the lane and finish at the rim.


And, like most anyone who has watched Embiid, Sharp thinks the big man's development could make him a prized commodity among NBA executives:

On the other hand: IMAGINE JOEL EMBIID IN A FEW YEARS. It’s ridiculous. He’s so big, and so coordinated, and so impossible to deal with on either end of the floor. We’re not used to centers like this, because centers like this mostly stopped existing 15 years ago.


Some scouts say Selden should stay in school

Kansas guard Wayne Selden elevates for a jam before Toledo guard Justin Drummond during the second half on Monday, Dec. 30, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden elevates for a jam before Toledo guard Justin Drummond during the second half on Monday, Dec. 30, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

While Embiid and Wiggins garner all the hype and praise, freshman Wayne Selden has also been mentioned as a potential late-lottery or first-round pick if he wants to dive into the draft pool.

In this Adam Zagoria piece from zagsblog.com, however, it appears at least a couple of NBA scouts would advise Selden to stick around Lawrence for at least another year.

Zagsblog.com picked up the below comments on Selden from SNY.tv:

“[He's a] late-first [round pick],” the aforementioned scout said. “He should definitely stay in school.” A second veteran concurred. “Yes,” he told SNY.tv. “Great upside, will show great improvement after one year of college ball. Will be a dominating player next year. The difference between 24-28 and 8-12 in the Draft.”


Wiggins slipping somewhat

It's becoming more clear as the season progresses that neither Wiggins nor other members of the touted freshman class can do for a franchise what LeBron James did as a rookie. It's addressed well in Mark Heisler's piece for Forbes, called "NBA wakes to find Andrew Wiggins and entire class of '14 aren't all that."

The article goes into great detail about where Wiggins stands currently, and why he is slipping — a relative term, considering he would drop from a consensus No. 1 pick to No. 3 or so. Here's an introductory excerpt:

This just in: Wiggins is slipping out of contention for No. 1-2. The NBA guys I talk to say that will be Parker and Kansas seven-footer Joel Embiid. At No. 3, Wiggins has yet to separate himself from Kentucky power forward Julius Randle, Australian point guard Dante Exum and, depending on whom you talk to, Arizona forward Aaron Gordon.


Twitter roundup

  • Not every college basketball analyst marveled at Kansas after its 77-70 win at Iowa State. This from CBS's Doug Gottlieb:

https://twitter.com/GottliebShow/statuses/423147334784913409

  • People in the greater Kansas City area love their college hoops:

https://twitter.com/ESPNResearch/statuses/423145096804986881

  • Iowa State fans, according to SI/CBS contributor Seth Davis, have more to worry about than the Cyclones' Big Monday prefermance:

https://twitter.com/SethDavisHoops/statuses/423154071541780480

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Embiid’s stock rising

Whether Kansas is on the court, playing on national television, or has the day off, it seems the national media always has Bill Self’s Jayhawks on its radar.

Before checking out some big-picture takes on some of the Jayhawks (No. 18, 10-4), here are a few in-game and post-game tweets in regards to KU’s 90-83 road win at Oklahoma Wednesday night:

  • During the game, ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla, whose son James is a walk-on at Oklahoma, credited KU coach Bill Self for knowing how to use a technical foul to his advantage:

  • Sports Illustrated/CBS college basketball scribe Seth Davis, who watched Kansas in person at the Battle 4 Atlantis, took a moment to give the Jayhawks credit for their road win:

  • ESPN’s favorite yelling former coach, Dick Vitale, might have been speechless for a moment, upon realizing how much offensive success Kansas had at Oklahoma:

  • Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jay Williams doesn’t view Kansas as the best, or even the second-best, team in the Big 12 right now:


Wiggins, Embiid project as top NBA picks

Kansas newcomers Andrew Wiggins, left, and Joel Embiid peek outside to pump up the crowd before the fieldhouse doors opened for Late Night in the Phog, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013.

Kansas newcomers Andrew Wiggins, left, and Joel Embiid peek outside to pump up the crowd before the fieldhouse doors opened for Late Night in the Phog, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. by Nick Krug

Every person who has paid any attention to Kansas this season knows that Self’s hyped freshman class has multiple potential one-and-done players. And few expect forward Andrew Wiggins and center Joel Embiid to be around when the 2014-15 season starts.

Thanks to espn.com, you can start to toy around with what NBA franchise Wiggins and Embiid will call home following the 2014 Draft, in June. Head over to the 2014 Lottery Mock Draft and give it a whirl.

The exact order of the top 14 slots in the draft, aka the lottery picks, won’t be determined until the season ends and the lottery is held. But this fun little mock draft machine spits out as many options as one could dream up every time the “play lottery” button is pushed. Using a list of 14 NBA prospects, it projects where each player will go, depending on how the teams are sorted out.

Out of curiosity, I played it three times. Each one provided a scenario in which Wiggins and Embiid were off the board by the third pick:

  • No. 1, Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, Duke; No. 2, Denver Nuggets: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas; No. 3, Orlando Magic: Joel Embiid, Kansas.

  • No. 1, Orlando: Wiggins; No. 2, Cleveland Cavaliers: Embiid; No. 3, Philadelphia 76ers: Parker.

  • No. 1, Milwaukee: Parker; No. 2, Orlando: Wiggins; No. 3, New Orleans Pelicans: Embiid.

You get the idea. The mock draft lottery feature could spit out any number of combinations, and most of them have Wiggins and Embiid in the top three or four.

Interestingly enough, the man behind the draft machine, ESPN’s Chad Ford, expects different outcomes to these scenarios by the time the real draft rolls around this June:


Over at ESPN’s Grantland, NBA aficionados Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose agree. Simmons retweeted Ford and followed with this:


You can watch Simmons and Rose gush about Embiid beginning at the 2:20 mark of the below clip, from Grantland’s YouTube channel.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7CCRbXwwkc&t=2m19s


Embiid gaining notoriety

Kansas center Joel Embiid comes down from a dunk against Oklahoma during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas center Joel Embiid comes down from a dunk against Oklahoma during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

In a piece by Ryan Fagan, of The Sporting News, it is pointed out that Wiggins, Duke’s Jabari Parker, Kentucky’s Julius Randle and Arizona’s Aaron Gordon entered this season with the most hype.

But for this piece, Fagan focuses on four other outstanding freshmen: Tyler Ennis, Syracuse; Jordan Mickey, LSU; Eric Mika, BYU; and Embiid.

Again, Embiid’s rising NBA draft stock is noted, and Fagan provides a link to the DraftExpress.com YouTube channel, which has this below video on Embiid. The stats cited are only from the first 10 games of the season, but I’m certain this is as thorough a video as you could hope for (IT’S 16 MINUTES LONG!) in terms of showing off all the skills and intangibles Embiid possesses that has NBA personnel drooling.

(Also, if you’ve ever wanted to watch multiple clips of Embiid boxing out, while listening to instrumental-only Lupe Fiasco, well, I just made your day.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cn-dtrmh0nM


Wiggins ‘not overwhelming’

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins heads out-of-bounds past the Sooners' bench after losing control of his dribble late in the game on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins heads out-of-bounds past the Sooners' bench after losing control of his dribble late in the game on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

In an effort to catch up casual college basketball fans with everything that went on during the non-conference season, which coincides with college football season, CBSSPorts.com’s Gary Parrish offered 10 things those who weren’t paying attention needed to know.

No. 2 on his list: “Andrew Wiggins has been really good but not overwhelming.”

Parrish posted this before Wiggins went 2-for-9 from the floor at Oklahoma on Wednesday. Still, he makes a valid point that it probably isn’t fair to ask “What’s wrong with Wiggins?” or call the freshman standout’s season “disappointing."


Ellis breaking out/KU ‘wishy-washy’

Over at bleacherreport.com, Jason King identified Perry Ellis as one of college basketball’s breakout stars this season. Eliis continued that trend with a double-double at Oklahoma Wednesday night.

Down near the bottom of the King’s Court piece, in the rapidfire section, the national writer also picked Kansas as his current “wishy-washy” team.

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