Andrew Wiggins signing makes this Bill Self's best, not first, reloading job


A lot can happen in 10-plus months, but right this minute it feels as if John Calipari and Bill Self will coach against each other in the national-title game for the third time in seven years next April in Cowboys Stadium.

Sure, defending champion Louisville and usual suspects Duke and Michigan State could spoil that rubber match, but landing Andrew Wiggins pushes Kansas right there with anybody. If it happens, it won’t be the first time Self draws a great deal out of a team that sends five new starters out for the center jump. Two of his nine consecutive Big 12 titles came after he lost all five starters.

If Self can convince immediately eligible post player Tarik Black, a bruiser who would complement Perry Ellis perfectly, that Kansas is his best available launching pad to an NBA career, the Jayhawks would boast serious depth at every position.

At the moment, Wiggins, fellow wing Wayne Selden and Ellis, the program’s three McDonald’s All-Americans, shape up as the lone sure starters. Either the 6-foot-5 Selden or 6-7 Wiggins could play inside when Self wants to run with a small lineup.

KU’s coaches think Frank Mason, a pure point guard, has the ability to push improving veteran Naadir Tharpe for starting honors and recruit Conner Frankamp has such deep shooting range he’ll be difficult to keep off the court, even though the 6-footer weighs just 155 pounds.

Landing Black, whose ability to graduate in three years from Memphis prevents him from having to sit out a year, would give Self the depth he likes inside.

Joel Embiid, a 7-foot, 225-pound native of Cameroon, is the most intriguing prospect of a KU class ranked No. 2 (behind Kentucky) by recruiting analysts. Those who have seen him play marvel at not just his coordination for a man his size but his skill for someone who has played so little basketball. The only question centers on how soon he’ll put it together. Rivals ranks him as the No. 25 prospect in the Class of 2013. ranks him No. 6. At the moment, he's more a prospect than a player guaranteed to make a major instant impact.

With Embiid and third-year sophomore Jamari Traylor, Self has two shot-blocking options, a nice luxury. Landen Lucas, a red-shirt freshman, made big strides in building his body and post moves during his year as a practice player. He could push for playing time as well. Justin Wesley also returns.

In Frankamp, fellow recruit Brannen Greene, a 6-6, 215-pound wing from Monroe, Ga., and sophomore Andrew White III, Kansas has three reserve shooters capable of making teams cautious about playing zone defenses.

Wiggins can’t bring as much to the program as Sherron Collins, Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur did because they all stayed longer than the one year Wiggins will, but he can match them in the national-title department.

“Now I just hope he comes out for basketball,” Lawrence attorney Mick Allen said after learning of Wiggins’ decision. “I stole that line from my granddad (Phog Allen) when Wilt (Chamberlain) committed to KU.”


clevelandjayhawker 9 years, 7 months ago

I guess I know why they are raising the cost of tickets now.

Greg Lux 9 years, 6 months ago

If they had been sure of AW the tickets would have doubled not just raised... Luck they made there decision before he did his.

Rock Chalk

Tony Bandle 9 years, 7 months ago

"Justin Wesley also returns."

Poor JW..kind of the Maytag Repair Man on this team. Well, at least he'll get to see a lot of great basketball in practice and on the bench.

Even Tyler, Evan and Niko have an identity...a blowout has become known as a "Coaches' Sons Game"!! And deep in the Bible Belt, anyone named Christian is off to a good start.

Mick Allen 9 years, 7 months ago

Nice summary Tom. My only concern now, and admittedly it is a concern only because we now have the best high school player in the universe, is how patient and steadfast Greene and White will be, now that their minutes for next year will be significantly diminished. White and Greene can both play the 2, but the 3 is where I saw them getting the majority of their time prior to this development. I agree that Selden will be tough to beat out for the 2. The kid, as you know is tremendously talented, bull strong, a great distributor and a nice soft touch.He also appears to have a great understanding of the game and who the ball needs to go to[Wiggens?] and when. Does HCBS ask White or Greene to red shirt and if he does how will either of them react? In this regard it will help that both of them will know Wiggens is a one and done and playing time will increase for both in the2014/2015 season.I have some reservations about Black's motivation and attitude, but agree he can fill a need until some of the inexperienced become experienced. I have seen recent video of Mason and I believe Nadir better bring game from the get go or he will be coming off the bench again, although as reflected in our earlier conversations about Nadir he improved greatly during the year and one can not dismiss his game winner against OSU and the stones he showed in wanting the ball in that situation. Love talking hoops with you. Maybe sometime we can do it on the links.

Michael Luby 9 years, 7 months ago

No way TK, Coach Self always has tenacious loyalty to his upper classmen when considering starting roles. Its Naadir's team this year, he's the starting PG.

REHawk 9 years, 7 months ago

Naadir's position to lose; and I don't envision his losing it. Gotta hope that Frank Mason can compete immediately as a ten minute backup...or that Frankamp can come in for meaningful relief as a deep threat who also protects and distributes effectively.

LAJayhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

I don't think there could be anything better for this team next year than Frank Mason challenging (because of his own good play, not Naadir's lack of it) for the starting role. If he's able to jump into D1-level ball that quickly, this team will jump from young and exciting to deadly.

Frank Mason pushing Naadir is the best possible thing you could hope for.

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 7 months ago

I have a hard time believing that Frankamp 6'0" and Mason/Tharpe are on the court at the same time. Very rarely have we ever played 2 people at 6 foot or shorter at the same time. I think Frankamp will need to develop his PG abilities to see playing time. Shooter or not, the defense is what will get Frankamp on the court and it will be difficult for him to play the 2 at only 6 ft.

Dirk Medema 9 years, 7 months ago

Conner wasn't known for his PG play before he led the US Jr National team last year. He'll be just fine, and so will the 'Hawks with whomever Coach Self puts out on the floor. The conjecture about who's playing next year is even more silly than the speculation regarding Wiggins' destination. Self will make it work regardless.

Gregor Southard 9 years, 6 months ago

I was at the game in fall '87 when KU smoked the Soviet National team that eventually won the Olympic Gold w/ Cedric Hunter and Mark Turgeon at guard. We were up almost 30 when Brown put the third string in. Wish that game was on DVD!

Joe Ross 9 years, 7 months ago

Here's the real question: does McLemore going number one (hypothetically) and Wiggins going number one change Kansas recruiting? If so, how much?

kellerman411 9 years, 7 months ago

It does... I think Self has stumbled into a new formula that brings balance. A team full of highly talented journeymen and 1 maybe 2 stone cold killers. The key here is for us to successfully transition Wiggins into the #1 pick in the draft. Doing that will solidify all of it.

Dirk Medema 9 years, 6 months ago

It's irrelevant.

Coach Self will always recruit the best players, and some of them will come to KU. What will be more relevant is if UK doesn't succeed this year.

Steve Zimmerman 9 years, 7 months ago

OK, one thing for sure is this: UK might be #1 team but if one of those prospects gets injured, they're doomed!! KU on the other hand, if (knock on wood) Wiggins gets hurt, will still pride in kicking butts with the rest of the team playing at high level of bball.

welcome to the family, Wiggins, the Assasin!!

DRsmith 9 years, 7 months ago

I am confused. So UK having 5 other 5 star all americans won't soften the blow at all? Never want anyone to get hurt but both teams will be deeper this year.

Steve Zimmerman 9 years, 6 months ago

Take a look at how the team played without Noel. Calpari is not good in grooming players. He relied on talents. Self knows how to find a way to (ugly) win without his best player. He also knows how to transform a not-so-good to an NBA-skill player. Still confused?

Kevin Huffman 9 years, 6 months ago

Depends on the injury.

I think if An. Harrison or Julius Randle gets hurt, UK would be in more trouble than if Wiggins or Selden were to get hurt for the Jayhawks.

I think the most indispensible, KU can't afford for him to get hurt player , for us is probably Perry Ellis.

Kevin Studer 9 years, 7 months ago

Kentucky has eight McDonald's All Americans. I think they can survive an injury.

Dirk Medema 9 years, 6 months ago

Unless it is to their 1 PG. They faultered this year because they had really weak PG play from the word Go. The one Harrison is the only PG they have on roster at this point.

DRsmith 9 years, 6 months ago

Of course that can also be said about KU. Tharpe goes down and you are leaning on 4 star freshmen? That can't be good either.

Boouk 9 years, 7 months ago

I never thought we had any chance at landing Wiggins until yesterday when some recruiting gurus switched their picks to KU and Dave Telep said Wiggins liked Self the most out of the 4 head coaches.

Dirk Medema 9 years, 6 months ago

You apparently missed the comments when he was here about him being intrigued by Hudy's conditioning program. Hopefully, he comes early for it, and develops that much more bond with the team in the process.

Bville Hawk 9 years, 7 months ago

I was hoping Coach Self would resurrect Phog's line when he talked about Wiggins for the first time following his announcement. Oh well, he can save it for another day.

Tom Longhofer 9 years, 6 months ago

"I hope he (Wilt, Wiggns) decides to try out for basketball"

billsboy 9 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Steve Corder 9 years, 6 months ago

This will make my TCU tickets more expensive, and there should be attendance records set for every KU road game. This will be a fascinating season with this recruiting class!

Jack Jones 9 years, 6 months ago

I understand all the all the elation following #1 Ranked Andrew Wiggins announcement today, and his wise decision to attend THE University of Kansas, to come out for the basketball team and be coached by the overall very best Head Basketball Coach, Bill Self ~ in fact, I have felt that exact same way since ~ oh, about 9.20 AM Prescott, AZ time.

However (always a however), it seems to me that the conversation practically guaranteeing ~ or more commonly, assuming ~ a UK-KU title game in 2014, is perhaps just a bit premature. This will be one of Coach Self's youngest, inexperienced teams that I can recall ~ with the inconsistencies that sometimes comes along with that combination. And, at the same time, I can't imagine ANY basketball coach, other than the aforementioned HCBS, that I would want ~ or even, that could ~ mold such a combination into a National Championship contender. This is his "sweet spot" ~ his expertise in building a group of highly talented individual players into ~ not just a good team ~ but GREAT teams year-after-year-after-year (insert 6 additional year-afters).

Welcome, Andrew ~ and to Mom and Dad ~ to the greatest, classiest, coolest (insert your favorite adjective) University, and to Jayhawk Nation ~ ONCE A JAYHAWK ` ALWAYS A JAYHALK!!!


Scott MacWilliams 9 years, 6 months ago

Okay folks, This is it! I'm taking ALL the credit here for Andrew Wiggins coming to KU. Yesterday I posted:

"Well, I'm going to go out on a limb here and just assume he's coming to KU. W E L C O M E, A N D R E W W I G G I N S ! ! ! ! ! ! You will have a great time here at Kansas, home of the greatest hoops barn in the world!! You will have 16,500 very good friends cheering you on at each and every home game, and they will all be just waiting for you in October. And quite a few of them will travel to other Big 12 arenas to make sure are able to see some crimson and blue wherever you go, and hear that incredible 'Rock Chalk' chant at the end of every game. Rock Chalk, Andrew Hawk!"

Sure enough, he read my post and decided that KU was the right place to go!! And by God, IT WORKED!!!

Rock Chalk, Jayhawks!!!

Cameron Cederlind 9 years, 6 months ago

"Justin Wesley also returns." yes . . . yes he does . . .

Ben Simonett 9 years, 6 months ago

Did he really say Jamari Traylor is a shot blocker?

he's 6'7"!

Ken Tomberlin 9 years, 6 months ago

He's listed at 6'8" and had 28 blocks last year with very limited minutes

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