When the world is watching your every move, fans are tracking your flights so they can greet you at the airport and you can't escape autograph hounds on campus … how do you get away?
How do you reconcile being a normal college kid — and supposedly the greatest basketball prospect since LeBron James? A quiet teenage boy — and already the projected No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft?
For Andrew Wiggins, the answer is simple: video games.
"He's also first-team All-American Call of Duty," jokes Rob Fulford, Wiggins' high school coach.
Says fellow Kansas freshman Wayne Selden: "That's all he does. I go in his room, and he's talking to the TV screen. That's what he does. That's his thing."
…"We never talked to Andrew about being a one-and-done," Self says. "We just talked to him about being a college kid, coming in and trying hard, helping us, and we're going to help him by putting him in a position to showcase himself. … It was always unspoken that we understood, if he did what he was supposed to do, we won't have him here on campus very long.
"The thing about Andrew that's common with all 18-year-olds is he's just a kid. He wants to be a kid. I don't think he's got the growing up fast-forwarding just yet. I think he's realizing that his college stint could potentially not be that long, and he wants to experience college."
So, here, on the brink of realizing his long-held potential, he still clings at times to anything that feels normal. For now, that's video games. He plays Call of Duty because that's what he's best at, and the only teammate he'll concede is good is Perry Ellis.
"It's two different worlds," Selden says. "When you're on the court, when you're talking to media, it's a different world than when you're just a teenager. You're in your room playing video games; you're not thinking, 'I'm a basketball player.'"
…"He was one of those guys who didn't need to be stroked, didn't need to be told how great he was every day," Self says. "All he wanted to do was gather information, and when he gathered information and was comfortable, he made a decision."
Coaches see a lot of Marita in Andrew. They're both laid-back. They survey the situation before speaking, appearing quiet until they're comfortable.
And as for all the attention?
"She's been through so much of that, and she's kept this kid so grounded," Townsend says. "It's not that big a deal.
"He's got that really tight-knit family. He handles everything differently. He's not cocky or big-headed.
"He's the nicest really good player I've ever met."
…By the end of last summer, there weren't many skeptics. Wiggins was 6-8 and moved with the speed and grace of a 6-footer. Highlights of his spin moves and dunking made their rounds on the Internet. Other players couldn't believe his jumping ability.
"There are only a few guys like that in every class that you just look at it and say, 'He would fit in for anybody, no matter who was recruiting him,'" Self says.
Wiggins was one, and everyone knew it.
Buoyed by his parents, Wiggins never let himself get overwhelmed by his recruitment. He kept it simple when coaches asked whom to talk to: just him, his mom and his dad. He told everyone he'd be taking the process slow. He put off most of his official visits until late February and March.
Coaches were left in the dark, wondering where they stood.
"I'd text him after games," says Townsend, Kansas' lead recruiter on Wiggins. "It'd be real short. 'Thanks, Coach.' He didn't give me any substance at all."
But there were clues.
During his visit to Lawrence, Wiggins asked Townsend about his clothes. He'd been a Nike kid all his life, so would he have to wear Adidas all the time? To class? "You can wear whatever you want," Townsend said he told him, laughing before the worrying started. Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida State were Nike schools.
April brought a call out of the blue. Wiggins asked Townsend if he committed to Kansas, would he have to come to summer school? Townsend said no but it'd be great if he did since the rest of the team would come. Wiggins was thinking about spending the summer at home with his family. "After this year, I probably will never get to do it again," he told Townsend.
Those two questions were so detailed, so peculiar. Townsend had a feeling. Wow, he's thinking about us.
…Fulford prepared a small ceremony at the school. He made sure only one news reporter would be allowed in — the local beat writer — because this was a moment Wiggins wanted to share with his family, friends and teammates most. Meanwhile, the outside world waited for the news.
"Who would have thought you get a lot more attention by deflecting all the attention?" Self says.
Townsend's phone rang three minutes before the announcement was supposed to start. A local Rivals.com reporter asked, "How long did you guys know?"
Seconds later, Self's phone started blowing up. Twitter was abuzz. They landed Wiggins.
“I love this place, so much you have no idea. I used to watch every game in that section there,” Riggle told the fans, pointing to the northwest bleachers, upper deck. “I used to sit there and dream that one day I’d be carried into Allen Fieldhouse on a white throne in a white tuxedo to ‘Thunderstruck.’
“It’s the greatest place on earth to play basketball, and it’s because of you (fans) ... this is basketball paradise. We have the greatest fans in the world, greatest team in the world. Now that we stopped playing Missouri, we finally got rid of that smell,” Riggle added to laughter. “KU is where basketball is perfected; K-State is where basketball is attempted. Enough about teams we’re better than. Tonight is about the Kansas Jayhawks.”
…As far as the 20-minute scrimmage, Tharpe’s Blue team actually hit 30 of 40 shots for 75 percent in a 66-40 victory over the Crimson squad, which hit 18 of 32 shots for 56.3 percent.
“It doesn’t mean anything at all. We made shots tonight, I guess,” Tharpe said. “It won’t be like that when it comes time for the season at all.”
Self was dismayed by the defense, or lack of it.
“We’ve spent a lot more time on offense so far. I think we can get them to guard,” Self said. “This has a chance to be a great defensive team. We’re quick and long. You can’t give up layups. All that was was a layup line.
“I think patience is important when coaching a young team,” added Self. “We can also make excuses for guys and say they are young. A lot of times with a young team you show less patience ... that way the tone is set on how you want them to be. I’ve probably done them a disservice being too patient with them. This is where it gets tricky. As a coach you see where they can be potentially. Sometimes you get impatient. You forget the process takes time. With young kids, it takes time. I have to be patient in many regards but not tolerate not trying.”
If Wayne Selden blossoms so quickly as a hard-charging driver and assist man that he ends up running the team from point guard, suddenly the potential for the Jayhawks explodes up the charts.
Watching Selden take the ball on the left wing, drop his shoulder, burn past Andrew Wiggins and drop in a layup from the right side of the lane made the mind dance as to Selden’s chances of breaking down a defense. So did his on-the-money bounce pass that set up Embiid for a dunk. Ditto for a no-look pass to the post.
Selden’s build calls to mind that of Oklahoma State’s relentless sophomore point guard Marcus Smart and so did some of the passes that flew off his fingers. Obviously, he wasn’t facing the sort of ball pressure and defensive intensity he will once KU’s tough-as-it-gets schedule arrives, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it would be too much for him to handle as a freshman. It’s the position he one day will play in the NBA.
The second half of the equation that could give a national-title projection a more realistic feel than a Sweet 16 exit involves the graceful center who started playing basketball at the age of 16 in Cameroon, coming to the hardwood from soccer fields and volleyball courts. If Joel Embiid, a 7-footer who looked scary good at times and a little lost at others, can improve enough to play starter’s minutes this year, look out.
As long as we’re in “Dream On” mode, minus the smoke from the Phog machine, picture Selden, Andrew Wiggins, Perry Ellis, Tarik Black and Embiid flying down the court, a blend of size and speed only seen in NBA games. In all likelihood, too much of a turnover machine to work, but an intriguing concept.
NBC Sports: X-Factors
“It’s time to hang one more banner,” Self announced.
Rightfully so, Allen Fieldhouse erupted.
Then again, what else is there to say at this point?
In the last three years the Jayhawks have made it to the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight and National Championship respectively. Self has said that this year’s class may have the most talent he’s ever collected at once. The expectations haven’t changed so why should acknowledging them be considered taboo?
During the annual barrage of pump-up videos shown before the men’s team scrimmaged on Friday, one was particularly telling of how Kansas plans on handling the hype.
With the arena lights out, the scoreboard played highlights of the last nine Big 12 championships, all of which were won by the Jayhawks and each accompanied by a ring fit for, well, a champion. The montage ended with four simple words:
No pressure. No diamonds.
Kansas can’t run from its identity this year. There’s no lack of star power to hide behind. No depth issues to use as an excuse.
Which is what made Self’s declaration at center court such a relief. That’s not to say there won’t be growing pains, or that the Jayhawks won’t drop a few winnable games.
But consider that only two years ago Self stood in the same spot on James Naismith Court and asked fans to “enjoy the ride,” now here he was slamming his foot on the gas pedal.
My Late Night in the Phog Videos
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10/7/13, 9:28 AM
ICYMI, John Calipari took a subtle shot @GoodmanESPN/Bill Self on Friday.
Discussing Julius Randle and how he (Calipari) plays players where they need to be played to get ready for the next level, vs playing them where he would if he only wanted to win college basketball games...
Julius needs it, but here's the issue with that, here's a kid with all this hype, you got a guy writing that he's the #1 pick trying to protect another coach cause the kid that's supposed to be #1 now all of a sudden lets make it if he's not #1 it's ok…
http://youtu.be/XVjH_SQpWnU Audio only, Approx 3:45 mark
Kansas University associate athletic director, public affairs Jim Marchiony issued a statement Monday addressing problems related to fans storming the various entrances of Allen Fieldhouse for general admission seating at Friday's Late Night in the Phog:
"We appreciate and share the concerns some have expressed about entry into Friday night's Late Night in the Phog," the statement began. "We constantly critique ourselves, looking for ways to improve how we conduct our events. Clearly the procedures Kansas Athletics has used effectively for many years at Late Night did not work effectively Friday night. As a result we will review and address all facets of the event, including communication, security, and even whether it should remain a general-admission, no-ticket event.
"Late Night is a terrific event that our fans look forward to and enjoy every year. We want to keep it that way - allowing as many fans as possible to be a part of it - while at the same time addressing what must be our Number One concern: the safety of those fans."
Former KU guard Xavier Henry is off to a great start in his attempt to make the Los Angeles Lakers roster.
The 22-year-old Henry scored 29 points off 9-of-15 shooting in the Lakers’ 104-95 exhibition victory over Golden State on Saturday at Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif. He hit two of four three-pointers and nine of 11 free throws with seven rebounds. Henry had 15 points, making four of eight shots and seven of nine free throws, on Sunday in a 97-88 preseason loss to Denver.
According to the L.A. Times, “the guard whose addition to the Lakers’ training camp roster didn’t cause much of a stir was a crowd favorite (Saturday) with several amazing plays, including an alley-oop pass on an inbounds play and a shot from beyond half court at the halftime buzzer.”
With injured big-man Jeremy Tyler no longer a lock for a roster spot, the chances that 6-foot-11 center Cole Aldrich, a former lottery pick from Kansas, making the team have spiked.
Thomas Robinson is 6-10, 240 pounds of pure muscle. He possess a man's man body at the barely legal age of 22. The No 5 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft is an intimidating freak of nature.
Now isn't the time to be opposing teams facing the Portland Trail Blazers because Robinson, in his owns words, is “pissed off.”
“I'm just pissed off,” he told CSNNW.com.
We understand why. He was highly touted coming out of the university of Kansas and for whatever reason, he's on his third team in two years after brief stops in Sacramento and Houston.
No matter the circumstances, it's safe to say that he hasn't has a fair shake in this league, and he echoes that sentiment.
“I feel disrespected,” Robinson went on to say. “A lot of people don't know the ins and outs of this business. That's how it works, man. There's no point in even talking about it. That's the way things work. I'm just ready to play.”
Three members of the 1952 Kansas University men’s basketball national championship team — Al Kelley, Bob Kenney and Bill Lienhard — were inducted into The State of Kansas Sports Hall of Fame on Sunday at the Wichita Boathouse.
…“I’m blessed, humbled and grateful to be inducted,” Kenney said. “I don’t have all the fancy credentials that other honorees have, but with my teammates’ help, I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve — to be a winner.”
All three Jayhawks represented the United States in the Olympic Games, with Kenney and Lienhard winning gold in 1952 and Kelley in 1960.
“Thank you so much for this honor,” Lienhard said. “I attribute my basketball success to my great coaches and teammates. Dick Harp was a great innovator, and Phog (Allen) was a master motivator.”
Kelley’s 1960 U.S. Olympic team was also inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
“I was delighted when Dick Harp came to McCune (Kan.) to offer me a scholarship,” Kelley said. “I’m a Kansan by birth, but a Jayhawk by the grace of God. I wasn’t as good as Jerry West and Oscar Robertson, but I had fun on the bench (at the Olympics).”
Big 12/College News
Ford's ear-to-ear smile on February 2nd after Oklahoma State beat Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse was a seminal moment. The Cowboys had just beaten the Big 12's best program in arguably the toughest environment in the sport and seemed well on their way to a memorable run through the final two months of the season.
Oklahoma State won four straight games after that win over the Jayhawks, and had a 19-5 record heading into a rematch with Kansas in Stillwater on February 20th. The Cowboys lost that game by a point in double overtime, but they still seemed like a trendy pick to do damage in the NCAA Tournament.
It never happened.
For all the momentum Oklahoma State had built up early on, the Cowboys lost in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament to Kansas State and then were beaten soundly by Oregon in their first NCAA game.
"We've talked about that all summer," Ford said recently. "The facts are the facts. We had some unbelievable highs last year but we didn't finish the season the way we wanted to. Our team is well aware of that."
…The Cowboys have the requisites to be a Top 10 team nationally and go deep in the NCAA Tournament. If they were in any other conference than the Big 12, Oklahoma State would be the consensus pick to win their league. But with Kansas and Bill Self still in the picture, it would be beyond foolish to pick against the Jayhawks.
Nevertheless, Ford and the Cowboys will have a dog in the fight come March, even if they finish behind Kansas in the regular season standings. Now the key is, accelerating the tempo and creating more opportunities for Smart, Brown, Forte, and Nash.
If that happens, 2014 won't end like 2013.
"We're going to try to play a little faster," Ford said. "Our top guys are going to play 25-30 minutes a game. You get excited for different reasons in coaching. I'm excited because this is the most returning players I've ever had since I've been a head coach. We've got a chance."
Coach John Thompson III beat the odds last season, steering Georgetown to 25 wins and a regular-season Big East championship. Although it was a season marred by a disappointing finish — collapsing against No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast — the Hoyas regrouped nicely after losing the core of the roster.
The challenge is strikingly similar in 2013-14, as Georgetown lost Big East player of the year Otto Porter to the NBA's Washington Wizards and also probably will be without Greg Whittington, who tore his ACL in June and could miss the entire season.
The Hoyas' consistency serves as a double-edged sword. While Georgetown is a perennial top 10 team, weak finishes — five consecutive losses to double-digit seeds in the NCAAs — are overshadowing championships.
Nevertheless, the postseason judgment can wait. For the upcoming regular season, it's difficult to ignore Georgetown's top 25 merit. Second-leading scorer Markel Starks leads a group of returnees who will mix with the additions of UCLA transfer Josh Smith and freshman Reggie Cameron.
USA Today Countdown: #25 Georgetown
All are on the Wildcats’ schedule this year. Calipari just insisted his own players don’t know at what point.
Michigan State “has already made comments that their practices are about beating Kentucky, but I say this to you,” the coach told a thousand or so fans gathered at the downtown Marriott. “If I ask my team when we play Florida, they’re not going to know. North Carolina. I’m telling you. I’m going to do it today as I thought about it. They don’t know.
“You think they know when we play Louisville? They don’t know. Is there a meal tonight? They don’t know. Now, I ask you this: Does everybody on our schedule know when they’re playing Kentucky? All they know, and that’s in their locker, that’s on the ceiling in their bedroom — you’ve got to deal with that. That’s part of being at Kentucky.
“I tell them, not only do they want to beat Kentucky. They want to beat you as an individual player. You know why? They wanted that scholarship that you got, and they want to prove they’re better than you — not just their team is better than Kentucky. So that’s the challenge that we have. But would you want it any other way? I don’t. Bring it. Let’s go.”
The drama surrounding troubled North Carolina guard P.J. Hairston seemingly has no end.
After multiple run-ins with trouble, Hairston is indefinitely suspended but remains on the roster – a fact that sent one Carolina athletic tutor over the edge. Jack Halperin wrote into the student newspaper The Daily Tar Heel, ripped Roy Williams for letting Hairston continue to stay on the team and then quit his job:
Roy, after 23 years as an academic tutor, and after going through the devastating football scandal, I am resigning in protest of your disgraceful decision to allow P.J. Hairston to remain on the team.
If I were arrested driving with no license, illegal drugs and a gun in a felon’s car, my employment at this University would end immediately.
Hairston’s DTH headline quote was, “I will play this season.” Since when does the criminal decide his fate?
Jack Halperin Athletic academic tutor
Big XII composite schedule
ESPN College GameDay Schedule
2013-14 Early-season events schedule
Good news for Kansas. RT @EvanDanielsFOX: Can confirm that Kelly Oubre has canceled a visit to Kentucky and will announce decision today.
Kelly Paul Oubre Jr.
from Lawrence, KS
Kansas is nice.
“It was love, man. I loved it a lot,” Oubre, the country’s No. 12th-ranked player according to Rivals.com, told zagsblog.com. “I love their chemistry and all the things that they displayed on my visit. The personalities and love from the fans and everything. It was a pretty good experience.”
…King McClure, a 6-3 junior shooting guard from Dallas’ Triple A Academy and the No. 14-rated player in the Class of 2015, told Jayhawkslant.com that Late Night in the Phog was “crazy. As soon as we walked in the arena, about 17,000 fans stood up and gave us an ovation. Man, that was just a crazy experience.
“I talked to Wayne Selden and Andrew Wiggins during my visit,” he added. “Both of those guys are pretty cool, and it was a real honor (talking to them).”
Blue-chip basketball shooting guard Kelly Oubre, a 6-foot-7 senior wing from Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., who has pared his list of prospective colleges to Kansas and Kentucky, caused quite a stir on Twitter on Monday night, writing, “Big News Tomorrow!!”
Oubre told Eric Bossi of Rivals.com he learned a lot about KU by attending two practices last weekend.
“I got to see how they get after it, how hard coach (Bill) Self is right now,” Oubre said. “They are going to have a great team. I got to see the guys, the brotherhood they are forming right now. A lot of freshmen are starting to get used to their roles. It was a great experience for me. I enjoyed it a lot. They treated me well (on visit).
“Late Night in the Phog was great,” Oubre added. “When we walked in, they (fans) gave a standing ovation. There was a good vibe in there (Allen Fieldhouse). They love their team. They love their city. They love everything about Kansas. I just like the feeling when I was in there.”
Perhaps as a hint of where he’s leaning, Oubre has the words “9 and counting” under his name on his Twitter account. That could be referring to KU’s nine consecutive league titles.
…Blue-chip basketball power forward Cliff Alexander sliced Arizona from his list of prospective colleges Monday, leaving five finalists.
“TOP 5 schools NO ORDER!!! Illinois, DePaul, Michigan State, Kansas, Memphis,” the 6-foot-8 Chicago Curie High senior reported on Twitter.
Curie coach Mike Oliver told ESPN.com he believed Rivals.com’s No. 4-rated player would release a top three list by Nov. 1 and commit in late November or early December.
“He’s gone to DePaul and Kansas, and he liked both of them guys,” Oliver said. “He’s got two left with Illinois (Oct. 26) and Memphis (Oct. 18) coming up. He’s liked Michigan State from Day One.”
Alexander’s AAU coach, Mike Irvin, told the Chicago Tribune all five schools have a “legitimate” shot at signing Alexander.
Jahlil Okafor, the nation’s consensus No. 1 recruit in the 2014 class, told Scout.com on Saturday that he had cut his list of schools to Baylor, Duke, Kansas and Kentucky, leaving Michigan State on the outside looking in.
Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Nerlens Noel are just some of the players that took to the Blake Arena floor as part of the Hoophall Classic in recent years. Noel is now a rookie with the Philadelphia 76ers while Wiggins and Parker are beginning their collegiate careers at Kansas and Duke, respectively.
The list of notable Hoophall Classic alumni grows year by year. After the schedule was released on Monday, several players making the trip to Springfield this January will someday join the ranks of the best players to participate in the yearly showcase.
The four best players in the Rivals150 ranking for the 2014 class will play in the 2014 Hoophall Classic.
Returning this season will be the consensus No. 1 player in the nation, 6-foot-11 center Jahlil Okafor from Whitney Young High (Ill.). In last year's event Okafor had with 26 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in an 85-52 win over Long Beach Poly. He should attract some high-profile coaches, as the Chicagoan has narrowed his list of potential college choices to Baylor, Duke, Kansas and Kentucky.
The No. 2 overall player, Prime Prep (Texas) point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who committed to Larry Brown and SMU in August, will play on Saturday night in a matchup with fellow five-star guard JaQuan Lyle and Huntington Prep (W.Va.).
The last games on Monday, the final day of the five-day event, will feature the No. 3 and 4 ranked players according to Rivals. Curie High (Ill.) center Cliff Alexander makes his first appearance at the Hoophall Classic in a game against Montverde Academy (Fla.). Mater Dei High (Calf.) wing Stanley Robinson wraps up the 2014 version of the Hoophall Classic against Ss. John Neumann Goretti High (Pa.).
Findlay Prep (Nev.) wing Kelly Oubre, Brewster Academy (N.H.) power forward Chris McCullough, St. Joseph High (N.J.) big man Karl Towns and Wesleyan Christian Academy (N.C.) small forward Theo Pinson are all top-20 seniors appearing in this year's showcase.
HoopHall Classic Schedule
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