2013-14 Kansas Jayhawks season begins today!
First official practice today 😎 #KUCMB
Wiggins became the consensus top prospect in the Class of 2013 after reclassifying. He possesses a unique combination of skill and athleticism, which is why the Canadian is projected to go first in next June's NBA Draft - but not until after he leads the Jayhawks to at least a share of the Big 12 title for the 10th straight year.
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"What did Kevin Durant do in college?" Wiggins asks before reminding me that he never actually watched Durant play a minute of college basketball.
"Kevin averaged 26 points a game," I tell Wiggins.
"But did he have a good team?" Wiggins asks, and it is at this moment when I realize that though I'm talking to an immensely gifted young man who currently projects as the consensus No. 1 pick in next June's NBA Draft, Andrew Wiggins is not all that interested in trying to set scoring records because, honestly, he doesn't even know what they are, and it's never occurred to him to ask.
He'd rather win a lot and hang a sixth championship banner in Allen Fieldhouse.
He's here at Kansas to try to cut nets.
"I don't know about 26 a game," Wiggins says. "But my team is going to be really good."
…It's an almost unavoidable scenario for somebody often labeled as the best prep prospect since LeBron James graduated in 2003. If Wiggins doesn't get 20 points in KU's opener on Nov. 8, countless reactionary folks on Twitter will label him overrated. If Wiggins doesn't overwhelm fellow freshman phenom Jabari Parker four nights later in a game against Duke, some will wonder whether he's even a future top-five pick.
Such is the harsh reality of daily referendums on athletes.
"It's going to be so hard for him to live up to the expectations," said assistant Kurtis Townsend, who was KU's primary recruiter of Wiggins. "But when I talk to Andrew about it, he says, you know, he's had these types of expectations on him his whole life."
Which is true, of course.
I first met Wiggins five summers ago in Las Vegas when he was a 13-year-old playing for a 16-and-under team called Grassroots Canada. His coach at the time, Ro Russell, told me this that day: "Andrew Wiggins will eventually be the best player I've ever had."
So, yeah, Wiggins has been dealing with high expectations forever.
And he's also forever shined in big moments.
The best example came two summers ago at the Nike Peach Jam when Wiggins was matched against Julius Randle, the current Kentucky freshman whom most project as the No. 2 pick in next June's NBA Draft. The gym was packed with college coaches, media and fans, and Wiggins completely overwhelmed Randle in every way to solidify his reputation as the nation's best high school prospect.
The guess here is that Wiggins' freshman season will go similarly.
He'll blend in at times -- mostly because he's surrounded by other future lottery picks like Joel Embiid and Wayne Selden -- but have so many huge performances in big moments that his talent and impact will be undeniable even if he doesn't average the same 25.8 points that Durant averaged at Texas.
"Andrew just isn't that kind of guy," said Kansas coach Bill Self. "He's not a guy who's going to be hunting points, but what he can do is dominate games in a lot of ways that maybe [Durant] wasn't asked to do. But he's not going to average 26. He's probably not even going to be a 20-point scorer."
And, if that's the case, will there be a backlash because of all this hype?
"There might be from some people, but it won't be from NBA people," Self answered. "The people who matter won't [question him]. Because they know."
Last fall, NBA executives bemoaned what was expected to be a weak 2013 draft class. This fall? Those same execs are gushing about the next one. An infusion of superior freshman talent and one irresistible Australian import have many believing the Class of '14 could be the best in years.
"Obviously, there is a long way to go," an Eastern Conference executive said. "Remember, how many people thought Shabazz Muhammad [the 14th pick in the 2013 draft after one season at UCLA] was the next big thing? But looking at the pure talent in this class, you can say five or six guys will almost certainly be All-Stars and another five or six could easily get there."
Here is SI.com's first look at the top 20 prospects for the 2014 draft.
1. Andrew Wiggins
Heard the phrase "Riggin for Wiggins" yet? You will. Several league executives predict tanking toward the tail end of this season as lottery teams will look to improve their chances of drafting Wiggins. His greatest strength is athleticism -- not a surprise given that his father, Mitchell, played in the NBA and his mother, Marita, was an Olympic sprinter. Wiggins' vertical reportedly was literally off the charts at the LeBron James Skills Academy last year, and he is just as explosive with the ball. He's a dynamic scorer, can play multiple positions and has a surprisingly polished jump shot. More than one general manager used the word "special" when describing him.
What kind of impact can transfer forward Tarik Black have?
Wiggins isn’t the only member of KU’s recruiting class who will almost assuredly be one-and-done.
Black, a graduate transfer from Memphis, will have just one season at Kansas. But for a team that was looking at having no scholarship seniors, he could end up making just as much impact as some of KU’s more heralded freshman.
On Wednesday, Self said Black may have been the “big steal of any recruiting class in America,” calling him a “potential draft pick.”
In the short-term, Black can serve as a stop-gap for freshman Joel Embiid, a raw big man still finding his way. By the end, Black may be even more.
“I think Tarik will have a great chance to play as much as he wants,” Self says. “He will have a great chance to start. Not very often do you recruit a senior that has already started three years and have him come in and be as well respected and basically be the leader of our big guys already, so I am expecting him to have a big year.”
…Will any players join the “Travis Releford” redshirt plan?
The pool of redshirt candidates isn’t that large: It won’t be Tarik Black or junior Naadir Tharpe, the Jayhawks’ only scholarship upperclassmen, and it won’t be sophomore Perry Ellis or forwards Landen Lucas or Jamari Traylor, both of whom already used redshirt years. Junior forward Hunter Mickelson will sit out this season as a transfer. And while we’re at it, we’ll go ahead and state the obvious that it won’t be freshmen Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden or Joel Embiid.
That leaves four scholarship players: sophomore Andrew White III and freshmen guards Frank Mason, Brannen Greene and Conner Frankamp. The competition in the early weeks of practice should be fierce.
Wiggins’ jump-out-of-the-gym talent is eye-popping, but to succeed as a collegiate player he has to learn to be more than just the occasional exclamation point.
That’s what Self is waiting on.
"You’d watch him play 10 minutes in a game and leave out of there going, 'Wow,' " Self said. "He makes plays that truly leave you in awe. But he doesn’t know yet how to play hard consistently. He can definitely do that. He just has to learn how."
Wiggins isn’t unusual. In fact, in these fast-twitch times, he’s the norm, merely the latest in a succession of guys tagged "It" for the season -- following in the oversized footsteps of Nerlens Noel, Anthony Davis, John Wall, Harrison Barnes, Derrick Rose, Greg Oden, Michael Beasley, Kevin Durant, all the way back to a guy named Manning at Kansas.
They are the next LeBron, the next sure thing, their team’s savior and the game’s future. Most -- though not all -- have handled the burden extraordinarily well and even more surprisingly, most -- though not all -- have lived up to the hype, but it’s a head-swimming ascension for even the coolest customer.
By all accounts, Wiggins is humble, despite all of the attention, a "sweet kid," according to Self.
Just a few months ago, Wiggins was trying to find the right cummerbund for the prom.
Now he’s posing for GQ.
It puts college coaches in a quandary. In these hyperattentive times, they have to find the proper balance, to protect their players from the insanity without coddling them on the court.
"It’s just been harder, faster, tougher so far, but at some point I have get inside his noggin," Self said. "He’s been humbled already and that’s a good thing. I just hope the expectations don’t weigh him down too much."
There’s one sure-fire way to avoid standing in line for first-come, first-served seating at Kansas University’s Late Night in the Phog basketball extravaganza, set for a week from today in Allen Fieldhouse.
It’s by donating a minimum of $10,000 to KU’s Williams Fund.
Fans who donate at the All-American level ($10,000 annually) may reserve two tickets to Late Night. Those who donate at the Champions level ($25,000) can reserve four tickets, while those who give at the Hall of Fame level ($50,000) can reserve six seats.
Exact seat number locations are printed on each ticket, with ushers making sure those designated seats are open until the ticket-holders arrive.
“The total number of tickets being reserved under this plan is give or take 1,100 out of 16,300 seats,” KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said of the plan, in effect the past couple of seasons. “This is a way for us to recognize and show our appreciation to our major donors who do so much to help us provide the support we give to our coaches and student athletes.
…Wayne Selden, a 6-foot-5 freshman from Roxbury, Mass., on Wednesday reflected on KU’s recent five-day Boot Camp.
“The first day was toughest day by far. All the older guys really helped us get through it,” Selden said. “We going in had no clue what to expect. You hear about this dreaded Boot Camp.
“The morning of the first Boot Camp ... Boot Camp starts at 6. I woke up at 4:30 in a cold sweat. I couldn’t go back to sleep. I was at the locker at 5 o’clock waiting. We all worked hard and got through it.”
…Basketball season officially begins today, with 30 practices allowed before the first exhibition game.
Embiid didn’t touch a basketball until he was 12, and he didn’t come to the U.S. with the intention of becoming a star.
“It was mostly for school,” he said, “but when I got there, I had a chance because my coach told me I could be really good. I started to take basketball seriously.”
Embiid had only been playing for a matter of months when he was discovered at a basketball camp conducted by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute in Cameroon. Mbah a Moute, a forward for the Sacramento Kings, grew up near Embiid’s hometown of Yaounde and attended Montverde before playing at UCLA.
Embiid, who spoke no English when he came to the U.S., left his family in Cameroon to enroll at Montverde the next fall. Four Cambodian students helped him learn the language, and he learned the game of basketball by practicing against Dakari Johnson, now a freshman at Kentucky.
Embiid recognized Kansas from one of the first college basketball games he watched on TV, but he had little concept of the school or the state until the Jayhawks started recruiting him.
“I never really paid attention before they called me,” he said.
Embiid played his senior season at The Rock School in Gainesville, Fla., where he averaged 13.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. He didn’t explode in the recruiting rankings until late in the season, but his ceiling was apparent to Self.
…When asked to name the most famous 7-footer in KU history, though, Embiid didn’t hesitate.
“Wilt Chamberlain,” he said. “Everybody knows about him.”
If potential translates to production, everybody will know about Embiid by the time he's finished at KU.
“He’s got a long ways to go from a strength standpoint and toughness standpoint to be able to play a ton of minutes early in the season,” Self said, “but he can do some things and move in a way that very few big guys we’ve had can move.”
When the New Mexico Lobos inked a deal to hit the road to play a game in December against perennial college basketball power Kansas, there wasn’t much question it was going to draw plenty of fan interest in Albuquerque.
When UNM saw just how many of its boosters in the Lobo Club were lining up for tickets, it decided to do something it hadn’t done in the past.
UNM will charter a flight for the team’s travel party and fans to Kansas City, Mo., for the Dec. 14 game being played in the Sprint Center. The Jayhawks play one game there each season in a game dubbed the Kansas City Shootout instead of at the usual home confines of Phog Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan.
“Obviously it’s an attractive national game,” Tim Cass, UNM deputy athletic director, said. “We thought it would be interesting to put together a donor support trip.”
The trip, offered initially to top-level Lobo Club donors for between $875 and $925 per person for game ticket, airfare, ground transportation and a hotel room, sold out almost immediately, Cass said.
Technically, UNM is chartering only a Southwest Airlines flight back from Kansas City, and the flight there is a regularly scheduled Southwest flight out of Albuquerque’s Sunport in which UNM was able to book all 137 seats. Cass said the cost of the flight out and charter back is “approximately $65,000,” which will more than be covered by the 110 Lobo Club members who have purchased the travel package. Also attending will be the standard team travel party in the 24-27 range.
The additional revenue stream to cover travel expenses for the team will also come in handy considering the $90,000 Kansas is paying UNM to play in the game has already been earmarked to partially cover the Lobos’ August trip to Australia (as is the $35,000 UNM is receiving to play Marquette in Las Vegas, Nev., on Dec. 21).
In addition to the normal allotment of about 40-50 tickets UNM receives for most road games, Kansas also made available to the school 200 tickets for fan purchase through UNM for $92 apiece (by contrast, UNM tickets in the Pit range from $19 to $37). Of those, 110 tickets are already accounted for as part of the donor chartered trip and the remaining 90 tickets will likely be accounted for by Lobo Club members on a waiting list for the tickets who were not able to join the charter but still plan to attend the game and travel on their own.
Other general admission tickets must be purchased through the Sprint Center’s website or through the University of Kansas.
Cass said he is unaware of a previous chartered flight, especially to this scale of more than 100 seats, for donors in the past at UNM and certainly not in his eight years in an administrative role.
Andrew Wiggins and Team Canada could get one of four wildcards to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain in February, FIBA announced Thursday.
“FIBA will reveal which four national teams will receive the wild cards at its Central Board meeting on the weekend of 1-2 February 2014 in Barcelona, Spain,” the organization said.
Canada failed to qualify for the World Cup, which runs Aug. 30-Sept. 14, after it was eliminated in qualifying by Argentina earlier this month.
…Tony McIntyre, the CIA Bounce coach who coached both Wiggins and Bennett, previously told SNY.tv he expected both to play next year, along with his son, Syracuse freshman point guard Tyler Ennis.
“I think it’s more than likely that [Wiggins] will,” said McIntyre. “This year was just a case of him wanting to get ready for college [ at Kansas].”
Kansas head coach Bill Self, Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber, Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall, Missouri head coach Frank Haith and UMKC head coach Kareem Richardson as well as legendary Missouri head coach Norm Stewart will team up on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at the American Cancer Society’s sixth annual Coaches vs. Cancer Season Tipoff Reception at Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Coaches vs. Cancer, as the event will play tribute to contributions made by cancer survivor and Coaches vs. Cancer Founding Father Stewart and his wife, Virginia. The event will be emceed by NFL, NBA and college basketball announcer Kevin Harlan.
The five coaches will participate in a media panel discussion from 4:30-5 p.m., where they will discuss their respective team’s outlooks for the upcoming season. A VIP reception will follow from 5-6 p.m., before the program begins at 6 p.m. on the vintage wooden floor at historic Municipal Auditorium. Fans will have the opportunity to chat with the coaches and bid on auction items to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
The cost is $100 per person, which includes a cocktail reception with hors d’oeuvres. Fans may also purchase a VIP ticket for $250 per person, which includes admission to the VIP reception as well as the main event. Tickets may be purchased online at www.KCSeasonTipOff.org. Proceeds from the evening will directly fund the Society’s mission of eliminating cancer by helping people stay well, get well, find cures and fight back.
Big 12/College News
It’s easily the most plentiful byproduct of the notorious “Bill Self Boot Camp” at Kansas, where new FGCU men’s basketball coach Joe Dooley was an assistant to the Jayhawks coach for the past 10 years.
But there’s also been desired – and less chunky – things to come from the camps, not the least of which has been tip-top conditioning entering the start of practice.
“I think it creates a toughness and mindset that you can finish things that you start,” said Dooley, hired in April to take over a team that became the first No. 15 seed in NCAA tournament history to reach the Sweet 16.
“That’s what we’re trying to create here. They started something terrific last year. How do we take it to where we want to get it?”
So how did it go at Dooley’s debut boot camp – or “Dunk City Boot Camp,” as say the T-shirts proudly being worn by its graduates?
Well, there was vomit, if that’s any indication.
“I came out in much better shape than when I went in,” said junior Nate Hicks, a 6-10 transfer from Georgia Tech and new addition to this year’s main rotation. “This was no kidding. We really went after it pretty hard. A lot of us made some strides.”
The Longhorn Network has been a failed experiment for ESPN. Carriage for the channel is still extremely limited. Yet, that's not stopping ESPN from continuing to throw games onto the network in an attempt to get people to watch. It hasn't really worked yet, but don't fault ESPN for not trying.
Longhorn Network is now driving another fanbase up the wall: basketball fans. It's looking more and more like six Big 12 hoops games will be airing on Longhorn Network this year - including Oklahoma's Big 12 opener with Texas according to The Oklahoman. Tough luck, Sooners fans! Your team might have made the NCAA Tournament last year, but you're not going to be able to watch your conference opener against one of your hated rivals. And if you do, it's going to be on their network.
Ed O'Bannon's class action lawsuit against the NCAA, Electronic Arts and the Collegiate Licensing Company took a major step forward Thursday. O'Bannon has agreed to a settlement with EA, which has published top-selling college football and basketball video games, and CLC, which represents more than 200 colleges, universities, conferences and bowl games in licensing contracts. The terms of the proposed settlement remain confidential but are poised to accomplish a key goal: compensate college athletes for their image and likeness in video games and retail sales. The NCAA remains a defendant in the case.
The Arizona men’s basketball program was informed by the NCAA on Thursday that Zach Peters’ waiver request was approved, making him eligible to compete for the Wildcats in 2013-14. Peters will retain four years of eligibility.
They could see it coming. One car, out of control, slams into another and then here they come, careening across the road.
Crazy, is the way that Braeden Anderson described it. Crazy, then scary.
And then, really scary.
Yet there was an instant in there that Anderson, sitting in back, holding on, thought they all would be OK. They had swerved and missed two cars, but then suddenly there was a third car and a collision and almost immediately, he knew it was not OK.
"I lay down right away," he said. "I lay down and I didn't move, for anybody. People were trying to tell me to move and I was like, 'No, I'm not moving.' I know there's something that's not OK right now."
The Fresno State men's basketball forward had suffered an injury to his cervical spine.
…"The official term is a displacement of my C-5 through C-6 vertebrae. But, pretty much, it's a dislocation and a fracture of a couple different notches in your spine," he said.
There was no damage to the spinal cord, but Anderson would undergo two surgeries at Stanford to fuse the vertebrae. He couldn't swallow or eat for 13 days, before and after the surgeries, and lost weight off his 6-foot-9 frame.
But slowly, normalcy is returning. He is back on his feet, up and walking. On Wednesday, he had a hamburger for the first time in nearly a month. Anderson likely will miss the entire season — the Bulldogs open practice Monday — but he got very lucky, Terry said.
And that is something of which Anderson is well aware. "It's a miracle, for sure," he said.
"I think the biggest thing that I'm taking away from this is that I've been through a lot of things in my life and this is just another thing that I'm going to get through. At the point of impact, that's when I got lucky. The injury, it's still a severe injury. But God still has a plan for me and he still has more things for me to do and I'm going to make a full recovery.
"There are not a lot of people who come away from this injury being able to move everything and with the doctors saying, 'Hey, your neck is going to be stronger than 100% a couple of years from now.' I'm just kind of holding on to that."
Anderson will start rehab in a couple of months. By Christmas, he said, he hopes to be doing basketball activities. There is no doubt he will be back.
P.J. Hairston will be at practice when North Carolina starts preseason workouts Friday. Beyond that, coach Roy Williams isn't ready to say how many games his suspended leading scorer will miss due to offseason trouble.
In a statement Thursday, Williams said the practice decision is Hairston's "first step toward permanently earning his place back on the roster" after twice being cited by authorities while driving a rental vehicle linked to a felon. Williams suspended Hairston indefinitely in July after he was also charged with speeding and reckless driving, though Hairston later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge.
In a news conference after that release, Williams said he has put Hairston through 18 days of extra conditioning work and stripped him of any leadership role on the team as part of his punishment.
"P.J. has done more conditioning this preseason than any player I've ever had," Williams said. "He's done more than three times more than any player I've ever had. He has not asked me the question yet but I know it's in his mind: he's wondering if he's on a track scholarship."
Williams said Hairston has done everything asked of him to earn his way back so far but there's more to do. He said Hairston has shown "a sense of remorse" for mistakes that "embarrassed his family, our program and the university."
The Hall of Fame coach said he'll make a final decision on how many games Hairston will miss before the season opener Nov. 8 against Oakland. When asked whether the NCAA was involved in that process, Williams said, "I can't speak for what the NCAA is doing or not doing. I know Roy Williams has a tremendous voice in what else is going to be done."
Big XII composite schedule
ESPN College GameDay Schedule
2013-14 Early-season events schedule
2014 ESPN Top 100
Gaffney High School (S.C.) football player Shaq Davidson and basketball player Peak staged a joint commitment ceremony at which they would dramatically reveal the institution of higher learning at which they would play their respective sports.
They decided to go with the ol’ hat routine, which was invented (or at least popularized) by Baron Davis almost 20 years ago. Davidson played it straight — but Peak went for the troll job on the Gamecocks and coach Frank Martin, putting on a South Carolina hat for a few seconds before discarding it and topping himself with a Georgetown hat instead.
It was a stomach punch for the Gamecocks. Peak is a top-100 player with offers from the likes of Connecticut, Florida, N.C. State and Memphis. He would have been a nice addition to what is, at the moment, a two-man class that includes another top-100 player in point guard Marcus Stroman.
That kind of hat ceremony psych out is not unprecedented.
Bryce Brown was the top running back in his class back in 2007 when he and his brother, Arthur (a top-ranked linebacker), staged a joint announcement. Bryce put on Miami hat before tossing it to his brother and picking Tennessee instead. Arthur, meanwhile, committed to the Hurricanes.
In 2010, McDonald’s All-American Terrence Jones also set up a hat ceremony. He reached for a Kansas hat, then put on a Washington hat and ended up signing with Kentucky.
Whenever something like this happens, there are a handful of fans that get bent about having a joke played on them. But, if you’re taking time out of your day to watch a teenager make a non-binding announcement? The joke’s on you, anyway.
Fox Sports (Video at the link)
As Lourawls (Tum Tum) Nairn told it today, his morning call to Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo went like this:
Nairn: “Coach, you ready to go win a national championship?”
Izzo: “Are you serious?”
And then there was laughing and yelling, and eventually, Nairn had to get off the line to tell everyone else at a news conference at Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kan. The 5-foot-11 senior point guard and Bahamas native, ranked No. 61 overall in his class by rivals.com, will play at MSU, picking the Spartans over Indiana, Minnesota and Oklahoma.
The other three were Nairn’s finalists for the past six weeks, having recruited him steadily for months or years — Oklahoma offered him as a sophomore. That Izzo was able to swoop in and steal him away in, essentially, two weeks of intensive recruiting serves as a counter to concerns about his clout on the recruiting trail.
Those concerns might have peaked Sept. 13, the day Nairn arrived in East Lansing for a hastily arranged official visit, and the day former MSU point guard target Tyler Ulis picked Kentucky over the Spartans.
“It’s kind of funny because there was a mini-meltdown about Ulis, but how do you think Oklahoma feels today?” said rivals.com national analyst Eric Bossi, who considers Nairn the fastest player in his class. “They recruited this kid before anyone heard about him, and his best friend, who is also from the Bahamas (guard Buddy Hield), plays there and has had a great experience. … Then MSU comes in late and gets him. Of course this is an indicator of MSU’s brand. We should not worry about Izzo.”
Detroit Free Press
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