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Andrew Wiggins picks Kansas, makes Jayhawks a title contender

May 14, 2013, 12:11 PM EDT

Andrew Wiggins AP

Remember all that talk about how this could end up being the year that Kansas ends their streak of winning at least a share of nine straight Big 12 regular season title?

Remember how we all thought that Marcus Smart and Le’Bryan Nash — and maybe Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson — returning to school for another season would be the biggest news of the offseason in the Big 12?

Remember when Oklahoma State was the best team in the conference?

That all changed on Tuesday afternoon when Andrew Wiggins, the Canadian-born forward out of Huntington Prep (WV) and the top high school recruit in the country, announced that he would be spending his one year of college basketball playing for Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks.

Of the four teams involved in the final pursuit of a prospect many believe to be on par with Kevin Durant and LeBron James, Kansas probably had the most to gain by bringing in the freakishly athletic, 6-foot-7 wing. Wiggins is a pure-bred scorer, a kid whose athleticism borders on genetic mutation — that’s what happens when your father was a first round pick in the NBA and your mother won silver medals as a sprinter in the Olympics — that has the handle and shooting ability to be so much more than just a dunker. He’s the go-to guy that Self has desperately needed since Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor headed off to the NBA after the 2012 national title game.

Because the Jayhawks do have talent on their roster, it’s just young talent.

Joel Embiid may be the best center in the Class of 2013. He’ll team up in the front court with Perry Ellis, a scoring machine when he was in high school that finally gained some confidence by the end of the season. Self will have a myriad of perimeter weapons at his disposal as well– five-star freshman Wayne Selden, Andrew White, Brannen Greene and the three-headed attack at the point of Naadir Tharpe, Connor Frankamp and Frank Mason.

The problem is that as good as all of those kids are going to be down the road, they are all young and/or inexperienced right now. Tharpe is going to be next year’s ‘veteran leader’, and he was so shaky at the point last season that Self was forced to play Elijah Johnson there even when Johnson was playing with the self-confidence of a middle school tuba player hitting on Blake Lively. Ellis was a touted recruit coming out of high school, but he played behind a guy that transferred in from Loyola Marymount. Combined, those two played fewer minutes per game last season than Travis Releford.

That’s the kind of experience that Self was going to be forced to deal with in 2013-2014.

But with Wiggins on the roster, those young guys can simply embrace being role players. They won’t have to shoulder too much responsibility, because Wiggins will be the guy that a) Self builds his offense around and b) defenses focus on stopping. It will be a lot easier for someone like Ellis or Selden or Embiid to have an impact offensively when they are constantly going up against a defense shaded towards Wiggins.

The beauty of it is that this is also a good thing for Kansas basketball in the future. Wiggins is gone after this season, but with a year of development at the collegiate level, who’s to say that someone like Embiid or Selden can’t turn into an all-american caliber player as a sophomore? Self is as good at developing talent as any coach in the country, and with Wiggins in the fold, he can do just that with his youngsters without having to worry about putting too much on their plate too early in their career.

Because that streak is a burden.

No one wants to be a part of the Kansas team that couldn’t win the Big 12 regular season title.

With Wiggins on the roster, the burden of that pressure lands on his shoulders.

And he’s good enough to handle it.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. gatordontplay - May 14, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    congrats to the kid.. cant wait to hear from the uk faithful how overrated he is and how they dont need him

    • tsumny - May 14, 2013 at 6:40 PM

      Nah, he is too good for that and we would have loved to have had him on the team, however UK, as I’m sure you would agree is seriously stacked and by far the most talent of any other team. Last years squad showed that we need a leader on the floor, so talent by itself is not enough. We should still run the table next season.

  2. kcroyal - May 14, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    Rock Chalk!!!

  3. senorpapino - May 14, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    “Thank goodness he chose somewhere other than UK”

    -Basketball fans everywhere

  4. ukcatsfan - May 14, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    Would have LOVED to see him come to UK, but it is still going to be a great year for the Cats!! Wish nothing but good for the kid, only time I won’t root for him is if he plays UK.

  5. tastybasslines - May 14, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    He could dunk, but it looks like his lips would get caught on the rim.

  6. steveo91 - May 14, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    He is Canadian not Canadian Born….Dont try to diminsh where he is from just because he is not American

    • tsumny - May 14, 2013 at 6:52 PM

      Really? Can you be more delicate? Its this hyper-sensitivity that is making this country incredibly wimpy! Toughen up a little! It was not that abrasive commentary.

  7. bucrightoff - May 14, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    Nice to see someone pass on the Calipari money. Can’t be easy to do.

    • tsumny - May 14, 2013 at 7:00 PM

      Painfully stupid comment

    • bsharp61 - May 16, 2013 at 7:59 AM

      He didn’t pass on money…his AAU coach took it for him like the player your being investigated for now hypocrit POS….

  8. ukcatsfan - May 14, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    Yup he passed on Cal’s money and took Self’s money instead!

  9. jcarne9014 - May 14, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    Really hard to get excited about these “one and done” kids.

  10. jrebar88 - May 14, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    KU a title contender? LMAO ok.

  11. mungman69 - May 14, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    It’s a shame that Wiggins can’t go right to the pros. Stupid law.

  12. 6stn - May 14, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    General Studies major?

    • jrebar88 - May 14, 2013 at 10:56 PM

      Im sure KU has classes lined up for him already. Scumbags.

      • bsharp61 - May 16, 2013 at 8:05 AM

        Self already promised him no summer school which is demanded at UK for orientation, subject counseling for level of placement, and a class or two to acclamate the player into study skills and class dependability…UK just released their basketball players grades form Spring semester that averaged a 3.4…not bad, considering all the haters say they never go to class and all the other jealous BS….

  13. imforbigblue - May 15, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    Wonder how long it takes before it comes out KU paid Wiggins AAU coach or his mom and dad. Funny how every few years KU is in the news for cheating with tickets or there players getting gifts or paying high school coaches or faking grades but never get in trouble. Man I’d love to see how much it cost to pay off the NCAA

  14. smokehouse56 - May 15, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    This writer is a sports writer, five steps below a hard news writer. And we know how bad news writers have become. But both have one thing in common. They embellish to a fault and many of their readers just drawl over what they write. Just tell me, what the hell is good about some kid going to college for one year? They are not there to learn nor do they (Wiggens) care to learn. Will probably never go to class and never see the inside of a library or perform in a chemistry lab. They will never read a text book nor write a scholarly paper. He will just exist in Kansas for one year. One year a real student will never see because he took their place. When he leaves he will make millions of dollars, which he probably deserves. But he does not deserve to be in Kansas for a full year or even a full day. This is all about Kansas and their desire to win some basketball games and fill Allen Field house. Or Pawley Pavilion or Rupp arena.

    • bsharp61 - May 16, 2013 at 8:21 AM

      Look…I understand your argument…but these kids HAVE to go to class..the NCAA is always on the campuses of the elite schools that get one and dones…90% of one and dones these days are excellent students coming out of high school already…they may never see a library because basketball players have their own study area and with Freshman classes most materials are found on the internet. Chemistry, unless it’s a basketball players subject he’s good or a natural at, is usually a Sophomore level class…but these days kids have already seen a decent amount of Lab work starting their Jr. level in high school…Remember…these kids may make millions the next year in the NBA…but in the meantime…the college makes millions because all the fans and sponsers want to see this kid play in Allen field House, Pawley Pavillion, and Rupp…the local University Store and Sports stores love selling his jersey with his number on it at a 200% mark up…Only way you can get your way…is to make these kids sign a contract that they have to stay in college for 4 years…that would lead most of the elite players to play European or Asian ball for a year before they enter the draft…forcing a lower level of play on college ball, maybe losing fans and guaranteeing a lower level of incoming money for the university in Televised coverage and sponsership…

  15. jhawk29 - May 27, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    That is one of the most logical and well thought out posts I have read in a long time. Nailed it on both sides, nicely done.

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