What Will Wiggins Do?
Like all coaches, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski stresses that his teams prepare and play each game with a similar mindset. But even he called tonight’s matchup with the Jayhawks “a pretty big game.”
Krzyzewski, of course, is a Chicago native. One of his former players, Duke special assistant coach Jon Scheyer, starred at Glenbrook North in suburban Chicago before helping the Blue Devils win the 2010 NCAA championship.
The Chicagoan who will be under the most intense scrutiny tonight, however, will be Duke freshman Jabari Parker. In his first game for the Blue Devils last Friday night, he scored 22 points in a 111-77 win over Davidson at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
A former prep All-American at Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy, Parker was named the ACC’s Rookie of the Week for that performance.
In facing Kansas, Parker and the Blue Devils will play opposite another of the nation’s top freshman, the Jayhawks’ Andrew Wiggins.
Parker won’t have the primary assignment on Wiggins. But he knows people want to make a big deal of the two freshman facing off anyway.
“I need to just keep the game plan and don’t go outside of what we want to do,” Parker said. “I know I’ve got individual goals, but I have to put that aside. What’s more important is the team. There are no individual matchups, [just] Duke versus Kansas. I’m going to take my guys, and our captains – I’m going to lean on their backs – and we’re going to come out with a win.”
One of those captains is redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood, who also scored 22 points in his first game with Duke in the win over Davidson. He said playing the Wildcats, an NCAA Tournament team last year that’s expected to challenge for the Southern Conference title again this season, will help in preparing for Kansas.
“It was a great lead-in game,” Hood said. “Kansas runs some of the same sets, and they have a lot of great athletes. They have some shooters but they’ve got a lot of great athletes, so we have to prepare, be smarter than them, and be quicker to the ball.”
Duke shot an astounding 70.4 percent from the floor in pounding Davidson. The game was played at the up-and-down style the Blue Devils intend to employ this season.
Playing that way as efficiently against Kansas figures to be a tougher challenge.
Duke sophomore forward Amile Jefferson, who had 10 points against Davidson, said he’ll have to play smarter in what he expects will be a tougher game physically.
“I think (this) game will be a lot more physical, so I just have to play smart, stay out of foul trouble early, and just be ready to do whatever it takes to win,” Jefferson said. “Rebounding is going to be key for us in this game, but we’re going to be able to run and play our style of play. Hopefully we play as one unit as we did (against Davidson).”
Durham Herald Sun
“When you coach, you want to be able to coach against the best players,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “And you also want to coach against the best coaches. And we have an opportunity to do both of those.”
No, the third installment of the Champions Classic certainly won’t be lacking star-power or story lines. Wiggins and Parker. Self and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. Kansas and Duke.
ESPN slated Kansas and Duke for an 8:30 p.m. tipoff in prime time, relegating No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 2 Michigan State, the opening game of the doubleheader, to undercard status. Courtside seats are going for $3,250 apiece on StubHub.com. And, of course, Kansas and Duke both feature 6-foot-8 freshmen who have played in one college game — and each appeared on one cover of Sports Illustrated.
“As a kid,” said KU junior point guard Naadir Tharpe, “I watched games like this.”
In the spring of 2012, Parker, a 6-foot-8 forward from Simeon Academy, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, touted as the best high school player since LeBron James. But just five months later, it was Wiggins who had supplanted Parker as the No. 1 overall player in the 2013 recruiting class.
As Self said earlier this week: Our guys know their guys.
That’s another way of saying this: Wiggins and fellow freshman Wayne Selden may still be learning about the pageantry and history of Kansas and Duke, but they know all about Parker and Duke swingman Rodney Hood — two potential first-round picks in next year’s NBA Draft.
“I would say Andrew is thinking about Duke, but he’s also thinking about Jabari and Hood,” Self said. “And I would bet they’re thinking about Kansas, but they’re also thinking about Wiggins and Selden.
“I think there’s probably a lot of that stuff going on, a little of a young personal rivalry. (It) really doesn’t mean much, but it’s natural to think like that.”
“It’ll be exciting to play Kansas,” Parker said when asked about playing against Andrew Wiggins. “Playing the alma mater of Wilt Chamberlain and the greats. That’s like us when Grant Hill was here. I want to play Kansas. We want to beat Kansas, Duke vs. Kansas.”
That’s typical Parker style, according to his high school coach, Chicago Simeon’s Robert Smith. Parker, the No.1 recruit in the Class of 2013 until he was sidelined with a foot injury at the same time Wiggins reclassified, was all about the team in high school, and that’s the way he has acted at Duke.
“I know how everyone is making it,” Smith said. “It’s not going to be Jabari vs. Wiggins. It’s going to be Duke vs. Kansas for him.”
If the focus is turned to individual matchups, it’s Rodney Hood, not Parker, who is expected to be the primary defender on 6-foot-8, 200-pound Wiggins. Parker likely will match up on sophomore forward Perry Ellis, who, like Wiggins, Parker and Hood, stands 6-8.
To simplify Kansas down to Wiggins would be a gross mischaracterization, just like singlingout Parker isn’t a fair breakdown of Duke.
The Jayhawks are loaded with future NBA talent, and the best future pro might not even be in their starting lineup. Freshman center Joel Embiid, a 7-footer from Cameroon, is beginning just his third year of organized basketball.
With Embiid, 6-9 forward Tarik Black (who chose Kansas over Duke for his final year of eligibility), Ellis, Wiggins at the small foward along with 6-5 guard Wayne Selden Jr., Kansas is “huge,” to use Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s descriptor.
That will challenge the Blue Devils, who lack a true post presence.
“It’s a big game for us as a team,” senior captain Tyler Thornton said. “We’ve got to stick together. We can’t worry about one-on-one things, worry about the media.”
…The Blue Devils will switch as part of their man-to-man defense, so it’s likely Parker will find himself on Wiggins at least momentarily. The two aren’t friends, Parker said, but they will say hi when they see each other. To Parker, it’s just two more players in a long line of greats at Duke and Kansas.
“I don’t hate the guy,” Parker said. “I think y’all just want to make it a frenzy, build a story.”
No. 4 Duke (1-0) vs. No. 5 Kansas (1-0)
Offense: There's marquee value in the freshman battle between Duke's Jabari Parker, a Simeon graduate and Chicago native, and Kansas' Andrew Wiggins. Parker scored 22 points in his debut, while Wiggins had 16 in Kansas' lone game. Kansas' size could be a problem for Duke. But Parker has a more experienced offense around him in Quinn Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon and Rodney Hood, making the difference.
Defense: Kansas 7-foot freshman Joel Embiid will provide an intriguing matchup for Duke. He's raw, but the Blue Devils lack much of a go-to inside presence. Point guard Naadir Tharpe returns from his one-game suspension and adds some needed pressure on defense for the Jayhawks.
Coaching: Bill Self's teams always are in the hunt for an NCAA tournament championship, and there's no doubt he is one of college basketball's best coaches. But it's hard to think of anyone who would deserve an edge over Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has won four titles.
Intangibles: Count on a big crowd of Parker supporters at the United Center. The crowd should be in Duke's favor. Of course, Kansas fans, like Duke fans, are everywhere. Still, there will be something special about Parker playing in his hometown. Also, Kansas has lost its last two outings in this event. Champions Classic curse?
Shannon Ryan's pick: Duke
Both of these squads have depth and talent. The Blue Devils were sensational in beating a tough Davidson team in their opener. Rodney Hood, the transfer from Mississippi State, showed little rust from a year's layoff. He and Parker are going to be special all season.
Quinn Cook is one of the special ball handlers in America. He can flat-out distribute the rock and limits turnovers. Kansas will have Naadir Tharpe back from a one-game suspension; he sat out the opening win over Louisiana-Monroe.
Interesting to note that the Jayhawks went to the foul line as many times as they attempted field goals (43) in that victory.
The team that dominates the glass and shoots better on the foul line will have the advantage.
Coach K has an athletic team that will try to run. Duke lost Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry, but is ready for this test.
The Blue Devils beat Kentucky last season and Michigan State in 2011 at the Champions Classic. The win over the Spartans gave Mike Krzyzewski the record for Division I wins.
Can the Dukies make it a perfect 3-for-3?
This doubleheader is part of a marathon day of basketball on the Worldwide Leader. I cannot wait to sit courtside and call this game with my buddy, Dan Shulman. There will be electricity in the air, a Final Four environment during the first week of the campaign.
“We’re the only team that has not won a game in the Champions Classic. We need to win this one,” KU coach Bill Self said of a 9 p.m. battle between his Jayhawks (1-0) and the Blue Devils (1-0) in Chicago’s United Center.
…“It’s a little different for football coaches. If you lose in football, it could be over for you if you have the high, high plans, BCS plans,” Self said. “Basketball is not like that. We have had it handed to us by Kentucky in the first game and ended up a 2 seed (reaching national title game in 2011-12). We had it handed to us by Michigan State last year and ended up a 1 seed (losing in Sweet 16).
“There’s time to catch up. It’ll be fun. It’ll be a great game for college basketball, at least early in the season. It’ll be terrific.”
…“It’s a program game to represent Duke,” said Duke’s Cook, who was a teammate of former KU guard Ben McLemore at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va. He’s also a longtime friend of KU’s Tharpe, the two playing against each other as youths. Tharpe is from Worcester, Mass., and Cook from Washington, D.C.
“They are a great team. Bill Self is one of the best coaches in my opinion, in basketball, period. He’s going to have them ready,” Cook added.
KU players agree it’s special to go against an opponent wearing “Duke” on the jersey.
“As a kid, I watched games like this: Duke and Kentucky; Duke and North Carolina; Kansas and whoever they played,” Tharpe said. “These are the highlight games of the year, the games that will be able to put us on the map as a team and get everybody to understand we are a top-five team.”
Amazingly, the No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup is the undercard. That’s because of Duke freshman Jabari Parker, a 6-8 forward who won four state championships at Simeon, and Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins, a 6-8 forward from Canada who’s as hyped as any 18-year-old since LeBron James.
Since the NBA ruled before the 2006 draft against high schoolers going straight to the league, the college game largely has become defined by one-and-done freshmen. Like it or not, this season is more about one-and-done freshmen than any before it.
Chicago Sun Times
If there is one thing the besuited behemoths of college basketball can agree on, it's that the most important city in the country right now is Chicago.
It isn't just that Chicago's United Center on Tuesday will showcase four of the country's top five teams in a doubleheader called the Champions Classic.
Featuring more talent than a Final Four, the evening will start with a showdown between No. 1 Kentucky and No. 2 Michigan State, then proceed to a matchup of No. 4 Duke and No. 5 Kansas. (ESPN will broadcast both games starting at 7:30 p.m. ET).
Tuesday's games will include 11 players currently projected as first-round NBA draft picks this year, according to Draft Express, two of the sport's most hyped freshmen (Kansas' Andrew Wiggins and Duke's Jabari Parker), and four coaches who have won five national championships since 2000.
What makes Chicago the ideal college-basketball battleground is that it's such a rich source of top recruits. This year's class of high-school seniors include two stars—Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander—ranked as top-five national recruits.
The city of Chicago alone provided five players for Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State's last five recruiting classes, more than every state but Florida, Michigan, Texas and Virginia. Each team playing Tuesday night has deep-seated connections to Chicago's coveted basketball pipeline.
Kentucky coach John Calipari won his 2012 national championship with Chicago native Anthony Davis. Kansas coach Bill Self has whisked several Chicago kids to Lawrence, Kan., and as Illinois coach from 2000 to 2003, he recruited heavily from the Windy City. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo targeted three high-school seniors in Chicago this year: Tyler Ulis, who committed in September to Kentucky, and Okafor and Alexander, who could announce their decisions as soon as this week.
Then there is Duke, which swooped into Chicago last year for Parker, the state's two-time defending Mr. Basketball winner. Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski has an edge when it comes to pitching Chicago kids: He was one of them. Krzyzewski grew up in a Polish neighborhood on the city's North Side and sells his local bona fides when he returns to the area. "Chicago is very much a city that embraces its own," said Northwestern coach Chris Collins, formerly a Duke player and assistant coach from Chicago's suburbs.
Wall St Journal
Kansas vs. Duke, Tuesday, 9:30 p.m., ESPN
You will notice below that I voted Kansas ahead of Duke in my preseason poll, but after watching each team play its season opener, I've concluded that Kansas might be the better team at the end of the season, but Duke is better right now. The Wiggins vs. Parker storyline is going to be tantalizing, but Parker is surrounded by older players. If this were late February, I could imagine Kansas 7-foot freshman Joel Embiid exploiting Duke's lack of a formidable big man, but the youngster isn't ready to command such a big stage just yet.
Duke 85, Kansas 78
SI Seth Davis
Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker are two of the most versatile players in college basketball, on both sides of the ball. On offense, both 6-foot-8 players can score off the dribble or on the block, and depending upon the matchups, I expect Mike Krzyzewski to use them similarly to how he used LeBron James in the Olympics. I would not be at all surprised to see Parker play some 5, with Hood at the 4 at times. This would put tremendous pressure on the defense, but also disrupt opposing offenses as well, given the players' ability to switch and defend positions 1 through 5.
Heading into 2012-13 the point guard position was a big question mark for Duke, but Quinn Cook emerged as a solid floor leader. He made excellent decisions in transition and in the half court, and was at his best at the end of games. Cook has a toughness and confidence about him that serves him (and the Blue Devils) well. Sharing the point guard duties is Tyler Thornton, a hard-nosed, on-ball defender who makes up with intangibles what he lacks in offensive skills.
I expect Rasheed Sulaimon to excel in the open Duke offense this season. He runs the floor hard, and can get to the basket off the bounce. He is an excellent on- and off-ball defender, with the size and strength to guard multiple positions. Backing him up -- and playing alongside him at times -- will be Matt Jones. The early reports on Jones are that he has the toughness and athletic ability to be a special player. He has shown a complete game since arriving in Durham, and could develop into an elite defender.
Amile Jefferson is poised to have a breakout season. He added strength during the offseason, which will enable him to finish in traffic and be a more effective low-post defender. Jefferson has the quickness to defend multiple positions, which will enable Duke to switch ball screens. Josh Hairston gives Duke a physical low-post defender who isn't afraid to bang down low.
Keys to the game
• Can the Kansas backcourt hold up against Duke's pressure? Tharpe and Selden will need to take good care of the ball and make good decisions against Duke's active ball pressure and denial on the wings.
• Can Duke defend the post and defensive rebound against the big, physical Kansas frontcourt? The Jayhawks will have the clear size and strength advantage over the Blue Devils, especially if Duke goes with a smaller lineup, like the one I described above.
• While this game is about more than Parker versus Wiggins, it will be fun to watch those two star freshmen go head to head.
ESPN Seth Greenberg($)
ABOUT KANSAS (1-0): Kansas sophomore Jamari Traylor, who had five points in KU’s 80-63 victory over Louisiana-Monroe in the season opener, is returning to his hometown of Chicago. But Traylor made it clear he’s focused more on Duke. (“I’m worried about the scouting report,” he said.) The fifth-ranked Jayhawks are 0-2 in the Champions Classic after losses to Kentucky and Michigan State the last two seasons. And it’s been more than 10 years since Kansas last defeated Duke, a Sweet 16 victory in 2003 on the way to the NCAA title game. Expect the rotation to be cut down even more on Tuesday, with freshmen Conner Frankamp and Brannen Greene outside of the nine-man rotation. KU is 48-26 against ranked teams under Bill Self.
ABOUT DUKE (1-0): Sophomore Rodney Hood, a 6-foot-8 swingman, had 22 points in his Duke debut after transferring from Mississippi State before last season. Kansas coach Bill Self said Hood could be “the best three-man” that KU will see this season. Hood shot nine of 10 from the floor in a 111-77 victory over Davidson last Friday, and while freshman Jabari Parker gets the headlines, Kansas must also find a way to stop Hood. The fourth-ranked Blue Devils are a little thin in the frontcourt. And to beat Duke, Self says Kansas must handle their pressure and win the battle inside. Duke, coached by Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski, is fourth all-time in victories with 2,002 — exactly 100 wins behind of Kansas. Duke freshman Semi Ojeleye is a native of Ottawa, Kan.
• BOTTOM LINE: Kansas trails Duke 7-2 in the all-time series, and Self is 0-3 against Krzyzewski. Self may be due against Duke, but how will Andrew Wiggins and KU’s young players react in a high-pressure environment?
LJW: A look back at Kansas-Duke history
It’s not exactly Magic and Bird, but the feeling just might be similar.
When Duke basketball freshman Jabari Parker and Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins take Chicago's United Center court tonight (10 p.m., ESPN), the matchup will be one of the most anticipated in the last decade.
That’s because Parker and Wiggins are two of the most heralded incoming freshman and NBA prospects of the last decade.
Staff writer Mark Thompson gets you ready for the game with everything you need to know about Parker and Wiggins.
Oh right, and tonight’s game is also a top five matchup between two storied blue bloods – Duke and Kansas.
Greensboro News Record
This version of the Parker-Wiggins matchup has almost the same script and setting as the first — the McDonald’s All-American game at the United Center in April. That battle ended more or less as a draw. Wiggins outscored Parker 19-10, but Parker had several successful stretches guarding his counterpart. That’s something he will likely be called on to do on Tuesday, and Dad will be watching.
“I know [Jabari] is looking forward to coming home,” Sonny said. “We will have a large group of family there watching. I’ll probably only be able to see him after game.
‘‘College is a lot different than high school. They are on a strict itinerary and will probably leave pretty quickly.”
Chicago Sun Times
In the 9pm nightcap, the Duke Blue Devils – led by Simeon Career Academy’s Jabari Parker, the No. 2 overall prep player in the 2013 class – will take on the Kansas Jayhawks and Andrew Wiggins, who many consider to be the top prospect in next June’s draft.
The Jayhawks also feature Jamari Traylor who played at both Fenger and Julian High School before transferring to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Also, in addition to Parker, Duke also has Todd Zafirovski on the roster, a senior forward from Lake Forest.
As for the coaches, Duke’s Mike Krzyewski is a Chicago native and Kansas head coach Bill Self assembled the University of Illinois squad that went on to play in the 2005 National Championship game after he’d already left to coach the Jayhawks.
But what really makes this must-see television is that the Elias Sports Bureau -- which is pretty much the bible of sports facts and statistics -- believes this is the first time in at least 30 years that two regular-season games matching four of the top five teams in the Associated Press poll will be played on the same day in the same building. Only No. 3 and defending NCAA champ Louisville is missing.
Though it wasn't the regular season, four of the top five teams were in the same building for the 2008 Final Four in San Antonio, the only time all four No. 1 seeds -- in that case, Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina and UCLA -- advanced to their sport's final weekend.
An interesting sidenote for Tennessee fans concerning UK's No. 1 ranking and the Spartans' second spot: Then No. 2 UT's victory at Memphis during the 2008 regular season was the last 1-2 matchup.
Chattanooga Times Free Press
"Wiggins has been advertised pretty high," one long-time NBA scout said. "Is he that good? The jury is still out."
Wiggins' hype began to grow after he had 20 points, seven rebounds and two blocks to lead the World team to a 84-75 win over Shabazz Muhammad, Nerlens Noel and the United States at the 2012 Hoop Summit, an exhibition pitting the top American high school seniors against the top international teams. A Toronto native, Wiggins then became the first Canadian to be named the 2013 Naismith National Player of the Year as the top high school player. The 6-foot-8 swingman was also named to the Associated Press All-American preseason first team, despite being a freshman.
While Wiggins has drawn some comparisons to LeBron James, one NBA scout said Wiggins' "worst-case scenario" is he's Vince Carter. Another scout likened him to Tracy McGrady.
"He's not LeBron," one NBA general manager said. "It's not his fault regarding all the hype. People say he's pretty humble. He's a top-three pick for sure, if not No. 1."
Said an NBA assistant GM: "He could be No. 1, but it's not a given. He's not overrated as much as the anointed one gets way too much attention."
Kevin Durant became the first freshman to win the Naismith College Player of the Year Award.
Durant entered college with considerable hype, but Texas coach Rick Barnes said Durant's will to work, which evolved through the course his lone college season helped distinguish him as one of the best offensive players in recent history.
"Believe it or not, when Kevin got here, I wouldn't say he had a great motor," Barnes said. "But he loved to play."
Durant, not surprisingly, is Wiggins' favorite player.
…"These guys haven't played one second, and they get a lot of hoopla and everything," Georgetown senior Markel Starks said. "If they're hyped up to be what they are, then great. Sometimes these guys really are that good. But at the same time, it is kind of a slap in the face for guys who've been in college basketball for two, three, four years. You hear about these freshmen who are supposed to be 'the next great thing.' It's every year. A freshman that comes in is supposed to be better than the (last) freshman that came in. It's just like that year in and year out."
Creighton's Doug McDermott – who passed up chances to go pro each of the last two offseasons – said he feels bad for these freshmen, because the extra attention "puts a lot of pressure on those guys that I don't think they need."
…Self sees scouts from six to 10 NBA teams at every Kansas practice watching his players, and not just Wiggins. With Wiggins, 7-footer Joel Embiid and guard Wayne Selden, Kansas could potentially have three one-and-done freshmen on its roster.
The story of Embiid, a Cameroon native who only started playing basketball at 16, illustrates how, in the eyes of NBA personnel, potential is the most coveted attribute of all.
Self understands that Embiid might not contribute much early in the season as he continues to learn the game. But Embiid, who has earned praise for his footwork, has as much raw talent as any young big man Self has ever seen. And unlike some of the more heralded freshmen who are ready to star in November, Embiid's improvement during the season could be the most striking.
"You are talking about a kid with Olajuwon-like potential," Fraschilla said. "And I underscore potential, OK. There is potential there to make the NBA team with the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft think long and hard about passing up on him. He moves like a 6-7 guy and he is already 7-feet."
USA Today: Wiggins only part of NCAA’s freshman revival
Tickets to tonight's rare early-season showdown at the United Center between the top two-ranked teams in college basketball is commanding big bucks on the secondary market.
The average price paid for tickets to see State Farm Champions Classic doubleheader is $366 at ticket resale aggregator SeatGeek.com.
That is $204 more than the average resale price for last year's event, which saw Michigan State defeat Kansas and Duke beat Kentucky in a doubleheader at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
As shown in the graph below, the double-header is also the most expensive November college basketball event SeatGeek has tracked since 2010, although it is a two-game ticket:
…Face value for upper-deck seats ranged from $39 to $65, but the get-in price as of tonight in the corner of the upper deck is $177.
The cheapest 200-level seat on the site is $628 — well above the $115 face value — and the cheapest lower-level seat is listed at $750, though face value ranged from $125 to $165.
And for a little perspective, the average ticket prices for resold tickets to each team's home game this season: Duke ($244), Kansas ($151), Kentucky ($121) and Michigan State ($46).
Aside from the highly anticipated pairings, demand for the games surely got a boost from massive Spartan alumni base in the Chicago area — said to be the second-biggest among Big Ten schools, only behind Illinois.
SeatGeek says 30 percent of traffic to its ticket page for the double-header came from the state of Illinois, while 10 percent came from Michigan, 8 percent from Kentucky, 7 percent from Kansas and 1 percent from North Carolina.
All of us in Lawrence, Kansas, had one thing on our minds: Andrew Wiggins—a kid from Vaughan, Ont. born two years after the Blue Jays won their second World Series who’s recently become the focus of all basketball chatter, from nerdy blogs to national magazine covers.
My band, Arkells, had finished recording our newest album in Los Angeles on Wednesday, meaning I was a two-day drive from Kansas University’s Allen Fieldhouse and the chance to catch Wiggins’ home debut on Friday night. I gladly volunteered to ensure our van and gear made it back to Hamilton, only to find that Nick, our bass player, and our friends Mike and Greg, were all interested in making the pilgrimage alongside me. A Canadian favourite to go first overall in the 2014 NBA draft, Jayhawks basketball and American barbecue—there really is no place like Kansas.
Because Wiggins is expected to follow the well-trodden one-and-done path of many a college hoops star before him, there is a sense around Lawrence that the town must savor this moment. The guy manning the front desk at our hotel, a part-time film professor, told us that Wiggins was enrolled in his Film Studies class for the spring semester; a liquor store clerk broke down game pacing and referee tactics while ringing up a six-pack of Bud Light; and our cab driver, wearing a brand-new Jayhawks t-shirt, said he never misses a game and—because of Wiggins—was impressed with my Canadian citizenship. If Dillon, Texas, the setting of Friday Night Lights, represents the Platonic ideal of American high school football towns, it seemed that Lawrence was its college basketball equivalent.
The Allen Fieldhouse, which seats 16,000 but seems built for 8,000, is a perfect storm of college-basketball fandom: steep aisles, low ceilings, rich alumni swearing at referees, shirtless frat boys coated in Jayhawk-blue paint, bleacher benches that pack three men to a foot, and cheerleaders straight out of central casting. It’s no surprise that Kansas is 107-2 at home since 2007—the greatest homecourt advantage in all of college sports.
I took my seat on press row next to Sean Levine, a KU grad, and sports director at the local radio station, Rock Chalk, Sport Talk. Having attended KU games for a decade, he noted that no other incoming freshman had ever garnered this kind of excitement. His assessment was reinforced by the presence of my other seatmate, Jung Hwan Seo, a sports journalist from South Korea. Seo had flown 20 hours to cover Wiggins’ debut, and was headed to Chicago on Tuesday for KU’s game against Duke before returning home.
…If all goes according to plan for Wiggins, Friday night was just the first of hundreds of important nationally televised games he’ll end up playing. But there was clearly something special about having been there. Wiggins proved that he’s worthy of all the hype, he created more with such an encouraging debut, and it felt fated that such a talented athlete would make his mark on the national stage surrounded by what might be the most appreciative and passionate fans in America.
Wiggins’ career is hardly determined: he’ll need a lot of hard work and luck to become the great we all expect. But Friday night proved that he is not the product of a narrative inflated by Canadian fans and media. Andrew Wiggins is the real deal. He is the centre of something much bigger.
Love each and everyone one of those guys in the locker room !! Only up from here yaw #KUCMB
S/O to the Kansas fam tomorrow taking on Duke in Chi-Town, my savages ready to eat greedy !!! #RockChalk
think I love snow so I m not going back to Africa when winter comes
@22wiggins Transformation Tuesday! Thanks to @SCAN40 for the taking the time to get us nice and groom. http://instagram.com/p/gmzON1gHfL/
Congrats to freshman guard Milton Doyle on being named @mvcsports Men's Basketball Newcomer of the Week!
Milton Doyle (Chicago, Ill./Marshall/Kansas) has been selected as the Missouri Valley Conference Men's Basketball Newcomer of the Week it was announced today. Doyle is the first Loyola University Chicago men's basketball player ever to earn a weekly award from the MVC.
In last Friday's season-opening, 76-72 victory over Milwaukee, the 6-foot-4 Doyle netted 18 points, all in the second half, and added four rebounds, a pair of steals and a blocked shot. His 18-point effort was the best by a Loyola freshman in a season opener since Majak Kou dropped in 18 points at DePaul in 2003.
With Loyola leading the Panthers by three points and just under four minutes remaining in the game, Doyle scored six unanswered points, the final three coming courtesy of a three-pointer from the corner, to give the Ramblers a nine-point advantage and control of the contest.
Markieff Morris was not just the best Suns player this week.
He was the best in the West.
Morris was named the NBA’s Western Conference Player of the Week for Nov. 4-10, when the Suns went 3-1 with Morris averaging 22.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals with a conference-best field goal shooting percentage of 69.8. His scoring ranked seventh in the West during that time.
Morris did all of that while coming off the bench for the best scoring stretch of his three-year career. He is the first Suns reserve to score at least 23 points in three consecutive games since Dan Majerle did it in 1995. Morris is the only NBA player besides Charles Barkley and Dwight Howard in his 24-year-old lifetime to shoot at least 75 percent in three consecutive games with at least 12 field goal attempts in each game. Morris made 30 of 38 shots over the past three games.
Morris is the first Suns player to win the Player of the Week honor since Amar’e Stoudemire did five years ago this week.
The Nets announced today that they have recalled Tornike Shengelia and Tyshawn Taylor from their NBA D-League affiliate, the Springfield Armor. They will be at Nets' practice today, which is being held at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, as part of Veterans Day commemoration.
Both players were sent to Springfield this past weekend for the start of the team's training camp, with Shengelia being recalled for Saturday's game against the Pacers -- because of Andrei Kirilenko's injury -- before being sent back down.
So, what's going on, you ask? Weren't they both supposed to be sent down in order to get some burn? Well, the D-League season starts on November 22, so there's time before the Armor actually play.
This "tour" is said to be bureaucratic, that the team wanted them on hand for the Fort Hamilton practice Monday and needed to call them up. Still, I'm sure we're going see both players bouncing back and froth between the D and the Association over the next handful of months.
Joe Dooley is on the board in Dunk City.
After getting steamrolled in its season opener by Nebraska, Florida Gulf Coast bounced back with a 65-51 win over Hartford on Tuesday morning. Dooley, who replaced Andy Enfield in the spring, notched his first win since arriving in Fort Myers.
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In an attempt to increase the normally poor attendance at basketball games, TCU has unveiled an official name for the Horned Frogs’ student section: Purple Haze.
According to the group’s Twitter page, the new organization will instill a “Purple Haze Points Program,” basically giving students rewards for attending basketball games. Some of the rewards include custom socks, TCU polos and personalized TCU basketball jerseys.
While the Frogs struggled mightily in their first Big 12 season and only finished 11-21, fans should have several glimmers of hope for this season. The Frogs proved that they can beat anyone by upsetting No. 5 Kansas at home last year, and also had a strong recruiting class, including their highest rated prospect ever in freshman center Karviar Shepherd.
When leading-scorer Romero Osby left for the NBA after last season, Oklahoma Coach Lon Kruger knew a leader would need to step up.
After back-to-back career scoring nights, sophomore Buddy Hield has been that guy.
Oklahoma's Hield scored a career-high 23 points and four other Sooners finished in double figures to help Oklahoma beat North Texas 95-82 Monday.
Scoring a career-high 19 points in an 82-73 season-opening win against Alabama on Friday, sophomore Hield again led the Sooners (2-0) in 29 minutes of work.
"We're still searching for someone to offer that security and someone to step up there and take a more aggressive role in leadership," Kruger said. "(Hield) has got all the raw ingredients starting with energy, enthusiasm and passion. Buddy does a lot of things well and, most importantly, he'll work at it. That's the exciting thing."
After missing Oklahoma's European games in August due to a sore foot, Hield returned to score 21 and 29 points, respectively, in Oklahoma's exhibition games.
Counting the preseason he's now led the Sooners in three of the last four games.
SMU has followed its finest defensive season in more than 50 years by actually improving at that end of the floor.
The Mustangs handcuffed Rhode Island 89-58 on Monday night at the Curtis Culwell Center, holding the Rams to 30.8-percent shooting. SMU (2-0) has limited its two opponents to a combined 31.3 percent.
In defeating Rhode Island (1-1), SMU held down a team that opened its season with 97 points in a 20-point victory over Maine. And the verdict was a far cry from Rhode Island's 72-50 win over SMU at home last season in one of the Rams' eight victories in coach Dan Hurley's first season.
Rhode Island (1-1) was led by freshman guard E.C. Matthews with 15 points. Junior forward Gilvydas Biruta, a transfer from Rutgers, scored 9 points and fouled out with 7:53 to play.
Second-year SMU coach Larry Brown indicated there's little mystery in his program's one-year turnaround against the Rams.
"Personnel," he said with a laugh. The Mustangs on Monday night were led by sophomore guard Nic Moore, a transfer from Illinois State, with 20 points. Junior center Yanick Moreria, newly arrived from two-year South Plains College, added 8 points and 6 rebounds. Sophomore forward Markus Kennedy, a transfer from Villanova, added 9 points.
Robert Turner connected on his first five 3-point attempts and scored 21 points to lead Texas Tech to an 88-68 win over Northern Arizona on Monday night.
"We've really been working hard on making shots lately," Turner said. "The last few games we haven't shot it well, really. After practice we were putting in extra effort to change that and tonight the hard work paid off."
Dusty Hannahs added 14 points, with four 3-pointers of his own, and Jordan Tolbert added 14 points and seven rebounds. Jaye Crockett added 12 points.
Ohio State has a new intro video for 2013-14
For the first time in school history, Towson received a vote in the AP Top 25 poll. Had 41-game losing streak less than two seasons ago.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino has reinstated suspended forward Chane Behanan and the junior will dress for Tuesday night's game against Hofstra.
Pitino announced on Oct. 17 that Behanan had been suspended indefinitely for violating school policy, but didn't specify what team rule was broken. The coach later said that the 6-foot-6, 250-pound player would miss at least the first month with the third-ranked Cardinals.
The coach said Monday that Behanan had met conditions for his return and returned to practice on Friday.
"I had a target of 30 straight days of (Behanan) doing the right things and I didn't think he would ever do it, to be honest," Pitino said. "He had 30 great days, which surprised the heck out of me."
Behanan remains under disciplinary probation for the rest of the season. He has not moved back in the team's dormitory and Pitino didn't say whether he would play against the Pride in Louisville's first of four games of the Hall of Fame Tipoff tournament.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken's order last Friday to partially certify a class action against the NCAA could soon present college athletes with an interesting choice: whether to join a trade association that would negotiate contracts for them. No such association exists yet, but sources close to Ed O'Bannon's legal team say it could be formed in a matter of months. Organizational efforts, which involve several law firms, began immediately after Wilken's order to certify a class action against the NCAA's amateurism rules.
A trade association for college athletes would function as a players' association and would negotiate contacts with television networks, video game companies and other organizations that profit from college players' images, likenesses and names. This means, for example, that college sports video games with real players and names would become possible. The trade association would also seek negotiated compensation for college athletes in the form of long-term disability and pension benefits. Many of the trade association's goals would embrace those of the National College Players' Association, a California-based advocacy group for college athletes' rights.
As the trade association is now envisioned, all current and former Division I football and men's basketball players could join, though it is possible that Division I athletes from other sports may be invited as well. This entity would be classified as a non-profit trade association and not as a "union", mainly because student-athletes are students and not employees for purposes of labor law. Trade associations are very similar to unions. Most crucially, they can negotiate contracts on behalf of industry parties. In this case, student-athletes would be the primary industry party.
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I'm excited to announce my college decision on Friday Nov 15th, 3pm at Apple Valley High school. Be there and thanks for all the support!
I'm excited to announce my college decision on Friday Nov 15th, 3pm at Whitney Young high school. Be there and thanks for all the support!
Another big S/O to my brothers @Tyusjones06 and @BigJah22 on their decision Friday may God lead them down the right path !!! #KUCMB
Young center Jahlil Okafor and Curie power forward Cliff Alexander forever will be linked as the top two big men nationally in the Class of 2014.
The Young center and Curie power forward both will announce their college decisions at 3 p.m. Friday at their respective schools.
While Alexander had set the date weeks in advance, Okafor scheduled the announcement Monday night after settling on a school.
“He made up his mind,” Chuck Okafor, Jahlil’s father, said. “He is confident in his choice.”
Kansas is in the mix for both, though the elder Okafor confirmed the former AAU teammates will not attend the same school.
Chicago Tribune (The last line shown above was later changed, see tweet below)
Apologies to @BigJah22 and @humblekid11 for mistake in @ChiTribPreps story. Mr. Okafor did NOT say they won't attend same school. My error.
I hate when ppl talk & don't know what they talking about.
I asked Cliff A (@humblekid11) if he knows where he is going, right now, at this moment. He says "No." Maybe things can change before Friday
“Neither Okafor nor Alexander want to announce before the other. If they do, it ruins ALL the hype leading up to each announcement,” wrote Roy Schmidt of Illinois Prep Bulls-eye.
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