One year later, Wiggins, a rookie with the Minnesota Timberwolves, accomplished something that only Wilt had done. He played college basketball at KU. Then won NBA Rookie of the Year honors.
“We’re all so proud of Andrew,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after the award became official on Thursday. “He obviously had a fabulous rookie season and showed he has the potential to be a great pro.”
Wiggins, who was selected No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft last June, averaged 16.9 points and 4.6 rebounds while playing all 82 games as a rookie. He also play 39 minutes per game for a rebuilding Minnesota franchise that was beset by injuries for most of the season.
“It’s a tough league. It’s hard to play every game,” Wiggins said at season’s end. “I feel proud of that.”
For Wiggins, the accolade sets the tone for what could be a burgeoning All-Star career. For Kansas, the ongoing ascendance of Wiggins could provide a boost in recruiting and brand exposure. The last Kansas player to make a NBA All-Star team was swingman Paul Pierce, who left KU in 1998 and is in the final years of a likely Hall of Fame career. Self, meanwhile, has yet to produce an NBA All-Star after 12 seasons at KU.
“He represented Kansas basketball in a big way and is a great ambassador for us,” Self said. “(Andrew) winning the rookie of the year will certainly allow him to continue to be a great representative for our program.”
Timberwolves assistant coach Sam Mitchell was the epitome of the working-class NBA player. He had no choice. With limited physical gifts he carved out a place in 994 NBA games by taking advantage of those who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, match his will.
So it means something that Wiggins—his polar opposite as a player—earned Mitchell’s respect not just for what he did in his rookie year, but how he did it.
“I mean, he’s still got a lot to learn. He’s not a finished player yet,” Mitchell said when Minnesota was in Toronto in March. “But sometimes you just measure [growth] in the mental part of the game … Andrew played, what, 30-plus games [in college]? We did that in two months. And so this is three seasons all rolled into one for him, and for him to have not missed a game tells you a lot about his makeup.”
That Wiggins came to work every day may be the most exciting thing about his first year in the NBA—and there was a lot to be excited about as he answered question after question about his game.
Is he aggressive enough? Ask Rudy Gobert, the seven-foot-two Utah Jazz centre who earned the nickname “The Stifle Tower” as the NBA’s most intimidating rim protectors. In an otherwise nothing game between two teams well out of the playoffs on March 30, Wiggins went directly at the NBA’s leader in block percentage for a poster-worthy dunk not once, but twice. Sure, he was blocked on a third effort, but two out of three is pretty amazing.
A few weeks later his body-to-body battle with seven-foot, 270-lb. Omer Asik of the New Orleans Pelicans ended badly for Asik and Wiggins earned a spot on the NBA’s list of the top 10 dunks of the season. In the same game he tried to go through and over seven-foot-two Alexis Ajinca. He was unsuccessful, but the intent signalled that he was a player gaining more and more confidence in his abilities as the season went along.
Wiggins averaged 5.7 free-throw attempts per game this season, more than any teenager in league history other than Carmelo Anthony.
Can he shoot well enough? Wiggins shot a respectable 35.8 percent from the three-point line before the All-Star break. That number dropped off a cliff subsequently, the most obvious sign that his legs were starting to feel the minutes he was playing.
It’s easy to forget, but early on the concern was that Wiggins was trending more towards bust than Rookie of the Year. Through the first 26 games of his career he shot just 38 percent. His net rating was -10.6. The statistics site FiveThirtyEight.com laid out a case for him as the worst player in the NBA through the first third of his first season.
He turned that around in short order beginning with his breakout performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 23, when he showed the Cavs what they were missing after trading him for Kevin Love in the off-season. He dunked on Love and finished with 27 points in another T-Wolves’ loss. Over the remaining 56 games he posted a line of 19.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists on 45.5 percent shooting.
But in some ways the most impressive part of Wiggins rookie season came after the All-Star Game hype died down and the dog days of the season began in earnest.
His numbers slid a little bit—in particular his three-point shooting. But his minutes kept climbing. From Christmas on, no one in the NBA played more minutes, and Wiggins ended up second to only James Harden for the season.
Remarkably, he also got stronger as the season went on. For the month of April he played 41.1 minutes a game while averaging 23.3 points, six rebounds and four assists a game on 44.4 percent shooting. And he did it the hard way as he got to the free-throw line 10 times a game.
“I’ve been taking care of my body, eating right to stay in the position I’m in,” Wiggins said of the load he was carrying. “[But] it’s really hard, you know? If it was easy, everyone would do it.”
His rookie accomplishments put his in some exclusive company. Wiggins joins LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant as the only players to win the award as a teenager.
But there is one category that Wiggins has all to himself—one that few would have predicted and that may be the most promising predictor of his future.
Wiggins is the only teenager in NBA history to play all 82 games while also playing at least 36 minutes a night.
“It’s a tough league. It’s hard to play every game,” Wiggins said at season’s end. “I feel proud of that.”
If 80 percent of success in life is simply showing up, Wiggins did it better—and younger—than any NBA player ever has.
Duffy currently represents 30+ NBA players which include Klay Thompson, Rajon Rondo, and last year’s draft number one pick Andrew Wiggins.
Eric Jaklitsch had never seen Cheick Diallo play, but he trusted friend Tidiane Drame when he told him the big man from Mali needed to come to the United States to play basketball.
“He just told me, ‘Listen, the kid’s going to be a really good player.’ I don’t think any of us thought he was going to be a top-five pick in his class,” said Jaklitsch, an assistant coach for Diallo at Our Savior New American in Centereach, N.Y. “He’s really worked hard.”
Diallo — he committed to the Kansas men’s basketball team on Tuesday — went through the application process for OSNA before arriving in New York the second semester of his freshman season.
He wasn’t a star at the beginning.
“He was getting all his shots blocked. He was struggling a little bit,” Jaklitsch said. “Then he just put the time in the gym.”
The growth that followed was impressive.
Diallo averaged 19 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks his senior year. He was also New York’s Gatorade player of the year in 2014 and 2015.
“If Cheick continues to work the way he’s worked,” Jaklitsch said, “the sky’s the limit for him.”
…“He’s happy. We’re all happy for him that he’s happy,” Jaklitsch said of Diallo. “We know he’s going to be taken care of over there.”
It was becoming clear that Williams’s goal of winning the Peach Jam often diverged from his players’ desire to boost their individual stats, which they viewed, not unreasonably, as their best chance to earn scholarships. (No one remembered that Wiggins’s 23-point game came in a loss.) To avert ball-hogging, Williams demanded that his team play within a controlled offensive and defensive structure, arguing that, as a bonus, the players would be better prepared for learning intricate college systems. He was an obsessive viewer of game tape, spending long nights breaking down an opposing team’s plays. (He drank Red Bull to stay awake during games.) To encourage the team to buy in, he told them that he was going to withhold their Kevin Durant sneakers until they played the game as he hoped they would.
But while Scan was among the E.Y.B.L.'s best defensive teams, it struggled to score. And during the team’s first game in Virginia, against the Baltimore Elite, many of the parents who made the trip — it was the closest to home their children would play all season — didn’t try to conceal their frustration. “Is this rec-league basketball?” Gary Battle said, when Diallo tried to bring the ball up the court himself. After a pass meant for Diallo went out of bounds, Dramé threw up his hands in exasperation. “Give my boy the ball!” Linda Bryant yelled at one of the guards. As Williams would tell me: “It’s just superhard to make 10 people happy. They feel like they’re the only ones complaining, but there’s nine other people saying the same thing.”
After the game, as Dramé complained to Williams about his prized recruit’s shot count, I heard a commotion and looked over to find Eric Jaklitsch, Diallo’s high-school coach, standing face to face with Andre Charles, a Scan assistant. They were screaming at each other. “Don’t disrespect me,” Jaklitsch yelled, before another Scan coach pulled him away. The incident was embarrassingly picayune — Jaklitsch had taken a cup of water from the players’ cooler during the game — but it was clear that a conflict had been simmering between him and the Scan coaches all season. Jaklitsch, who needed Diallo during the school year, disagreed with how the player was being used by Williams, who needed him now. “I used to have to buy a ticket to this circus,” Williams said, shaking his head as Jaklitsch was pulled away from Charles. No one seemed to notice that the team had won by 17.
…After all, many players of Diallo’s talent attend college for only one year before entering the N.B.A. draft. “He’s only planning on being there about five months,” Battle continued.
“Exactly!” Dramé said, with a laugh. “If Cheick does well in the E.Y.B.L. this year like he did last year — woof — his stock gonna be through the roof.”
He meant it in terms of Diallo’s appeal to top programs, but some generally acknowledge that at the highest level of college basketball, some players have been known to be illegally compensated beyond room, board and tuition. Accepting cash or gifts can jeopardize a player’s eligibility, but throughout a summer on the E.Y.B.L. circuit, I watched $20 bills change hands from coaches to handlers; from parents to recruiting analysts; and from coaches to players — that last case being scandalous only to those who maintain a strict belief in the virtues of amateurism on the part of teenagers while adults make considerable sums of money off them.
“I can get paid for a lot of things,” Gary said. “But Tyus Battle’s not one of them.” For those who do wish to be paid, the money could be significant. The largest figure I heard being offered in exchange for one top prospect spending a year in college was $125,000, paid by a combination of an athletic department’s boosters and a sneaker-company sponsor. The money is nearly impossible to trace: A recruit’s mother might receive a box in the mail filled with $250 American Express debit cards; a father accompanying his son to a Las Vegas tournament might find a stack of chips on his bed. “Most college coaches were also players, so it’s in their blood to be competitive, and unfortunately, sometimes they compromise their values and ethics,” Rick Evrard, a lawyer who has handled N.C.A.A. investigations for more than 20 years, told me. “This is not going to stop.”
…Halfway through the E.Y.B.L. season, the team would have to win the majority of its remaining games to qualify for the Peach Jam, and now, in the hotel room, Charles tried a less refined motivational approach. “There’s two things we discussed in the van, me and Munch,” Charles said. “First, ‘I.N.T.’ — ‘I Need That.’ Not ‘I Want That’; ‘I Need That’ — that layup, that pass, that rebound. Then, ‘S.T.B.’ — ‘Shoot That Bitch.’ Run it up the court and shoot that bitch!”
Charles turned to Diallo: “Cheick, what you gonna do?”
“I can’t say that,” Diallo said, with a shy smile.
“Just say ‘S.T.B.’ for me.”
Diallo paused, then relented: “S.T.B.”
2014 NY Times article: In Search of the Next Andrew Wiggins
Lastly, Rhoades said he’s had one conversation with Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger about possibly reviving the Border War rivalry.
“We would certainly like to play them again,” Rhoades said. “I think the people that really are impacted most are student-athletes, our coaches and our fans. They’re the biggest losers in all of this. I’ve had one discussion with Sheahon. He’s a great person, a great director of athletics. But it’s a lot more complicated than just saying we want to play again. They’ve gone on and have done their scheduling. We’ve certainly done the same. If we can ever play again, I don’t know that it can be in the immediate future because of current obligations. But certainly down the road I would love to play gain. Absolutely.”
It sounds like Zenger is open to further discussions.
“Like I am, he’s careful in terms of what he can say,” Rhoades said. “I think he’s certainly open to it down the road. The time’s got to be right for both institutions. There’s got to be a willing spirit for that to happen. Hopefully we can develop that spirit as he and I get to know each other better. But I certainly don’t want to put him in a bad position or put words in his mouth. But it was good first conversation. I hope to have a good second, third, fourth, fifth, whatever it takes.”
St Louis PD
The Thunder announced that forward Nick Collison underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee Thursday in Oklahoma City.
Collison, 34, is expected to miss four-to-six weeks before returning to normal offseason activities. This past season, he averaged 4.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 66 games.
On March 19, the night before the Kansas Jayhawks played New Mexico State in the second round of the NCAA tournament, I called my dad, a longtime columnist for the Lawrence Journal-World, our hometown paper. He was not feeling optimistic. “It’s sick, it’s odious,” he said of being a KU fan. “If they play well, it’s a relief. If they play terribly, you’re disgusted. You hate it. It’s a curse. It’s no fun!”
Well, what happens if they win the national championship? He said it would be like Woody Allen’s character in Hannah and Her Sisters when he finds out he doesn’t have cancer. He’d be elated for five minutes, then come to his senses and remind himself of the meaningless of existence.
Existence sure didn’t feel meaningless on the night in 1988 when Danny Manning and the Miracles beat Oklahoma to win the national championship for Kansas. One of the best nights of my life. Walking around campus all night with friends, high fiving strangers, rocking out on Wescoe Beach, watching this cute girl Debbie laughing while peeing. That’s all I remember.
Growing up, I always knew I was going to be a professional basketball player. In September 1977 I moved with my mom to New York City. My dad soon remarried, moved to Lawrence, and we became Jayhawks fans. Our favorite player was Dave Magley who reminded us of Bill Murray.
…By 2008 I hadn’t followed any sports since the Royals won the World Series in 1985, but my friend Henry Phyfe, a KU alum, insisted we go to an East Village bar to watch the NCAA finals. With 2.1 seconds to go Mario Chalmers made an incredible shot to send it into overtime. I couldn’t stop screaming “Holy shit!” and then KU won and I became a fan again.
Big 12 / College News
This conference will likely have five different schools -- Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Baylor and West Virginia -- ranked in the Preseason Top 25, but beyond that is a mystery. Texas is the toughest team to get a feel for. The Longhorns are entering a new era under Shaka Smart and it will be interesting to see how they respond to their new coach physically and emotionally. There is a solid returning nucleus with eight of Texas' top 10 scorers back following an NCAA Tournament appearance in addition two highly touted incoming freshman in Eric Davis and Kerwin Roach Jr. But how will this team respond to a new voice? How will Smart -- a coach that's made his brand known nationally for accelerating the tempo -- adjust to having more size at his disposal? Things in Austin are a big mystery right now. There is the talent, balance and coaching for the Longhorns to be an NCAA team in 2016, but right now it's hard to know what to expect from this team heading into next season.
"If Coach Cal wanted to keep these kids and develop them, he should tell them that. He’s just running them in and out. It’s not him, it’s not just him, it’s the parents. If my son is supposed to go second round, ‘Son, you need to stay in school, get your degree in case something happens, and also finish the job. Make sure you make these people know you can actually play.’ They’re just running them out of here. Like Dakari Johnson. I hope he makes it, but he’s a 7-footer who can’t jump. What’s he going to do with no degree when he’s done in two years?"
…"Last year, when we went to the Final Four with [Julius] Randle and them, it was because of pure talent, and the reason we lost? Coaching. Why did Louisville beat [UConn] by 30? They pressured their guards. We let the kid Shabazz Napier–he walked the ball up and just shot in our face the whole night. I’m like, ‘did you not watch the tape of Louisville beating them? They pressured these guys.’"
I love Coach, I think he’s a great guy, he helps people out, he brings us back, he’s treated me with nothing but respect, but I’m talking about coaching. I’m not talking about personal, I’m talking about coaching. If you’re going to coach these kids, let’s make them play the game the right way."
Former Kentucky player Derek Anderson
Rasheed Sulaimon made his first public comments since his dismissal from the Duke basketball team, telling ESPN this week that he did not sexually assault anyone and that his departure from the basketball team was not related to those allegations.
"I have never sexually assaulted, not only anyone on the Duke campus, but anyone period," Sulaimon told ESPN. "It's not in my nature at all. I have great respect for the role of women in society. I would never demean or do anything to a woman in this manner. No, I've never done anything like this in my life.”
Sulaimon did not specify the reason for his Jan. 29 departure. He did say that he grew frustrated with his lack of playing time, which diminished every year after his freshman season.
"I'm a very competitive guy and I believe I should have been starting," he told ESPN. "Quite simply, I just got frustrated. In retrospect, in looking back on it, I didn't handle it well at all. My immaturity and me being frustrated with hitting adversity, I think it greatly impacted my relationship with Coach K heavily.”
Sulaimon told ESPN that he has not spoken with coach Mike Krzyzewski since his dismissal.
Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes became one of the most popular players during the recent college basketball season, showing off his intelligence and personality. Who could forget Hayes using long and obscure words to test stenographers at the NCAA Tournament as they transcribed interviews?
Behind the scenes last season, Hayes was preparing for his role in the latest landmark NCAA lawsuit — a case brought by prominent attorney Jeffrey Kessler that seeks a free market for football and men's basketball players to be paid. Hayes has not commented publicly about his involvement in the case, given advisement by his lawyers. Some of Hayes' opinions became public Thursday when excerpts of his deposition were filed in court.
“I'm saying that it should be left to the schools to decide how much each player should get [in payments],” Hayes testified. “And I have no reason to believe that the schools would give the players less than we already receive. But I do have a feeling, and a belief, that we would receive more.”
Hayes testified on March 4 in Madison, Wisc., one day before the Badgers played at Minnesota. Sixteen days later, the Badgers started their run to the NCAA Tournament championship game with Hayes providing key contributions.
After Wisconsin clinched a berth in the Final Four, Hayes told CBSSports.com he had a “little inside chuckle” while walking right past NCAA president Mark Emmert to go onto the stage. The timing of the deposition near the NCAA Tournament marked a historical moment in college sports: A key player reaching the Final Four while he sued the NCAA.
The Big 12 and Southeastern conferences have announced an extension of their women’s basketball challenge that will expand to 10 games in 2016 and 2017.
Every team from the Big 12 will participate while 10 teams from the SEC will take part in each season. The format features five home games on campus sites for each conference per year. Teams will not face the same opponent twice.
In 2016, games will be scheduled over the dates of Thursday-Sunday, December 1-4. Exact dates of matchups and television designation will be released when available.
“We are excited to see the Big 12/SEC Challenge expand to include all 10 of our institutions,” said Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “This gives each of our teams an opportunity for a quality non-conference opponent and provides marquee matchups between two of the nation’s top conferences.”
The inaugural challenge was held in 2014 in Little Rock, Ark., and featured a top 5 matchup with No. 3 Texas squaring off against No. 4 Texas A&M. Oklahoma and Arkansas, who were both receiving votes in the Associated Press Poll, played in the second game. The conferences split the Challenge with the two games decided by a total of nine points.
The 2015 version will be contested in Oklahoma City on Sunday, December 20, 2015, with the opponents reversed. Texas will play Arkansas while Oklahoma entertains Texas A&M.
2016 SEC/Big 12 Women’s Basketball Challenge Matchups
Baylor at Tennessee
Mississippi State at Iowa State
Kansas at Alabama
Auburn at K-State
Oklahoma at Kentucky
Georgia at Oklahoma State
TCU at Florida
South Carolina at Texas
Texas Tech at Arkansas
Mississippi at West Virginia
2017 Big 12/SEC Women’s Basketball Challenge Matchups
Kentucky at Baylor
Iowa State at Vanderbilt
Arkansas at Kansas
K-State at Missouri
Florida at Oklahoma
Oklahoma State at Mississippi State
Alabama at TCU
Texas at Georgia
LSU at Texas Tech
West Virginia at Texas A&M
Big 12 Sports
The Thunder hired Florida's Billy Donovan as their coach Thursday, hoping he will help the franchise win an NBA championship in Oklahoma City.
"We warmly welcome Billy and his family to Oklahoma City," team chairman Clayton Bennett said. "He is the perfect fit for our organization and for our community, and we look forward to a long and successful relationship."
The 49-year-old Donovan led Florida to two national championships, four Final Fours, seven Elite Eights and 14 NCAA Tournament berths in 19 years. He signed a one-year contract extension with the Gators in December that would have paid him an average salary of $4 million through 2020.
But, eight years after leaving Florida to coach the Orlando Magic and then changing his mind the following day, Donovan is back in the NBA. It's not likely he'll head back to Gainesville this time — he inherits 2013-14 MVP Kevin Durant and 2014-15 scoring champion Russell Westbrook.
"I am honored and humbled to be named the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder," Donovan said. "I knew that it would take a unique opportunity to leave the University of Florida, and that is clearly how I look at this situation."
…Donovan already had strong ties to the Oklahoma City franchise. Former Florida assistant Mark Daigneault was hired as Oklahoma City's D-League coach last year, while former Florida video coordinator Oliver Winterbone is a scout with the Thunder. Presti and Donovan have had a lasting relationship.
Donovan talked with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers about openings before last season, but decided to stay at Florida. Last season, the Gators finished 16-17 and missed the postseason for the first time since 1997. Three players have already left the program in what many believed was a house cleaning.
Former NBA player Javaris Crittenton, who was indicted on murder charges two years ago, has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced to 23 years in prison.
Crittenton was charged with the shooting death of Julian Jones, a mother of four whom Crittenton accidentally shot while seeking vengeance against a gang member who had previously robbed him at gunpoint. Crittenton apologized for shooting Jones when entering his plea, and called her death a horrible mistake, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Crittenton was also indicted on drug-trafficking charges in January of 2014, after he was arrested in a DEA sting and accused of conspiring to sell “multi-kilo quantities of cocaine and several hundred pounds of marijuana.”
Jayhawks Invitational schedule
The phone of Dreher standout Tevin Mack’s mother was kept busy Monday as she had conversations with three head coaches who badly want her son.
Paula Mack said Monday night she took phone calls earlier in the day from Shaka Smart of Texas, Mark Fox of Georgia and Bill Self of Kansas.
“They were all telling me how much they can use him and how much they need him,” Ms. Mack said. “They all want him. All three said how bad they needed him, especially Kansas. He (Self) said he needed a big scoring guard.”
…Tevin Mack’s 18th birthday is Friday, and his mother would like him to make a decision on that day, but she said he’s given her no indication he’ll be ready to make a decision by then.
Two years ago Iowa State was a borderline NCAA team before adding DeAndre Kane as an immediately eligible transfer. His addition propelled the Cyclones to the 2014 Big 12 tournament title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16. Sterling Gibbs could have a similar type of impact depending on where he lands next season. The 6-foot-2 guard is arguably the sexiest name on college basketball's free agent market because he can transfer without sitting out a season and is coming off a year where he averaged 16.3 points and 3.8 assists at Seton Hall . Gibbs also made 75 shots from deep and made an impressive 43.6 percent from long distance while also showing a penchant for making big shots in crunch time. This is a big loss for Seton Hall, but it's going to be a huge addition for somebody else next season. Gibbs is still working to cut his list and set visits.
N.C. State landed Shaun Kirk after all.
The small forward from Whiteville signed with N.C. State on Wednesday after a whirlwind 48 hours and a brief courtship by Kentucky.
Kirk committed to N.C. State on Monday after a visit to campus, but he was then contacted by Kentucky coach John Calipari.
Kirk decided to stick with the Wolfpack. He signed a National Letter of Intent with N.C. State on Wednesday, the school announced.
Kirk, an athletic 6-6 small forward, averaged 18.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game as a senior at Whiteville last season. N.C. State has to replace two starting wings, and he gives the Pack options on the perimeter.
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