In blocking a Kansas freshman record seven shots in KU's 67-63 win against UTEP, freshman C Joel Embiid was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week in a vote by a media panel which covers men's basketball the conference announced Monday. Embiid scored in double digits in two contests as the Jayhawks recorded a 2-1 record at the Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas, over Thanksgiving weekend. The 7-0 Yaoundé, Cameroon, native also had 10 blocked shots while shooting 63.2 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from the free throw line. His seven rejections versus UTEP set the KU freshman record for blocked shots in a game, previously held by Nick Collison (six vs. Nebraska in 2000). Embiid averaged 9.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in the event. Averaging 9.1 points and a team-best 7.0 rebounds, Embiid leads Kansas in field goal percentage at 67.6 percent and is third in the Big 12 with 2.3 blocked shots per game. His 7.0 boards per game are ninth in the league.
The good: Even in the worst of times, Jayhawks coach Bill Self is usually one of the most sanguine guys in his profession. So it was odd to see him so ticked off after his team rebounded from the loss to Villanova by holding off a scrappy UTEP team in Saturday night's consolation game. When I asked Self afterward to tell me something positive he learned about his team down here, he stared into space for several seconds before he could think of anything. "We did have some young kids play really well in stretches," he finally said. "Joel [Embiid] is terrific and Frank Mason did some good things for us. So I think that's a positive that we can take out of here, but there's not a lot of positives. We really got exposed in a lot of areas."
The play of Mason, a 5-11 freshman, is going to be an important springboard moving forward -- so much so that I wouldn't be surprised if he eventually replaces junior Naadir Tharp as the starting point guard. When Kansas fell behind by 12 points with 12 minutes to play against Villanova, Self inserted Mason into the lineup, which sparked the comeback. And when Kansas frittered away a 14-point lead in the second half against Wake Forest on Friday, Self benched all five of his starters and watched his reserves hold the Demon Deacons at bay. The Jayhawks are a young team and they looked like it at times, but the talent is still considerable. Self learned that he has more options on his roster than he may have realized.
The bad: A lot of coaches would like to have Self's problems, but he does have problems. First and foremost is the lack of perimeter shooting. During their first two games, the Jayhawks made a total of seven shots outside of three feet. For the tournament, they shot 10-for-45 from three-point range. That made the Jayhawks way too easy to guard in the half court, which put a higher premium on getting out in transition; and because their energy was so lacking, they didn't have many opportunities. "We know we're not going to be an execution team in November, but I'm surprised that we don't play with the competitive spirit that all our teams have always played with," Self said.
That begins with -- yup -- Andrew Wiggins, the freshman forward who was maddeningly disengaged. Wiggins was battling bronchitis, but as Self told me, "a lot of people don't feel good, but they still go to work every day." We've known that Wiggins does not possess a superstar's mentality, but from a technical standpoint he got exposed in two areas. The first is his ball handling. He can only go one or two dribbles and gets the ball knocked away a lot (four turnovers vs. Villanova). Second, his jump shot is just OK; he only made two three-pointers in three games. Wiggins doesn't have to be a great three-point shooter, he just has to be good enough to make defenders respect him behind the line. Right now he's not.
…SI.com: You called Kansas' loss to Villanova on Thursday night. That was your first look at Andrew Wiggins. What did you think?
Van Gundy: He has to accept his role as the best player on the floor and be more aggressive. We always talk about role players accepting and playing their role, but he has to accept his role, too. They can be good with him playing the way he's been playing, but they can't contend for the national championship unless he's willing to take over a little bit more.
SI Seth Davis
After an impressive start, the presumptive No. 1 pick has struggled lately. After finishing with 17 points and seven rebounds in an assertive and efficient effort against Wake Forest, Wiggins slumped through an upset loss to Villanova and a narrow win over UTEP.
In those games, he shot a combined 5-for-17 and scored just 16 points. This is, for better or worse, what you're going to get from Wiggins from time to time. He plays on a loaded Jayhawks team with three potential lottery picks, all of whom want the ball.
Kansas doesn't placate stars by designing a system around them, but rather asks the players to play within the system. It isn't time to throw up a red flag just yet, but it's worth following to see how Wiggins bounces back.
12/2/13, 11:06 AM
Reputable national high school evaluators knew that Andrew Wiggins was a long term proposition and not a freshman proposition as #1 prospect
The hype Andrew Wiggins might not be living up to was created by publications & college basketball writers w limited knowledge of his game.
Despite his lackluster play last week in the Bahamas, NBA executives and scouts are still understandably high on Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins.
“His status isn’t about what he IS, it’s about what he CAN become,” one NBA GM who would take Wiggins No. 1 overall told SNY.tv.
Wiggins averaged just 8 points and 5 rebounds in Kansas’ last two games in the Bahamas — a loss to eventual champion Villanova and a win over UTEP — but by all accounts he was very ill.
“He was sick the whole trip but he still has to play and bring it,” said a source close to the Kansas program.
Some NBA types maintain that Duke’s Jabari Parker is the more complete player at this stage and would take him No. 1.
“I take Jabari every time,” one NBA assistant told SNY.tv over the weekend. “Ready to play, a winner, great kid, can shoot. He has tremendous upside and has performed when the lights were on.”
Still, a general consensus seems to exist that Wiggins has a higher ceiling going forward.
“Up to this point he’s certainly not living up to the media hype,” one former NBA GM said of Wiggins. “He is not ready to turn around any NBA team right now. Down the road 2-3 years yes, but not now.”
Said an NBA scout: “All [the freshmen] are great talents, Wiggins has the best upside.”
Said the NBA GM: “Just remember who the highest-rated high school player was three years ago and looked like a train wreck in college [Andre Drummond] and who looked great in college [Michael Kidd-Gilchrist] and hasn’t done s*&t [in the NBA].”
Kansas has a critical four-game stretch coming up with games at Colorado and at Florida before returning to play New Mexico in Kansas City and Georgetown in Lawrence. All eyes will be on Wiggins, who hopefully feels better and shows what he’s capable of.
CBS Sports podcast: Should we be concerned about Kansas? Do folks realize Wiggins is averaging 15 and 7? Kansas’ tough month ahead.
LJW: 'Hawks in the NBA blog
12/2/13, 10:44 AM
THIS JUST IN: Nets F Paul Pierce expected to miss 2-4 weeks with non-displaced fracture in right hand.
VOTE HERE for Pierce, Chalmers, Markieff Morris 2014 NBB All-Stars
Kansas women's basketball head coach Bonnie Henrickson and her staff will host the 2013 Holiday Hoops Clinic on Dec. 27 inside Allen Fieldhouse.
Children from kindergarten to eighth grade are invited to celebrate the Holidays with the Jayhawks and participate in a basketball clinic on Friday, Dec. 27 from 3-5 p.m. The cost is $15 per child and $5 for adults participating with their child(ren).
All children registered for the clinic will receive a voucher at the conclusion of the event for three tickets to an upcoming KU women's basketball game (some restrictions apply). Participants are encouraged to register for the clinic by Dec. 20.
Check-in for the clinic begins at 2:45 pm on Dec. 27 in the north concourse of Allen Fieldhouse (first level). Registration forms and payments can be sent to the women's basketball office. All questions should be directed to Alaina Lee at 785-864-4938 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Big 12/College News
Mercer coach Bob Hoffman was worried going into Monday night's game against Oklahoma about how his basketball team would contain the Sooners offensively.
“We were wondering what the answers might be because they shoot it so well and if you help, they throw it to each other,” Hoffman said. “They share the ball and then they just jump up and shoot it and make shots. It's not real complicated, they've just got so many guys that can make it, maybe as many as I've seen.”
Hoffman's worse-case-scenario came true at Lloyd Noble Center as the Sooners beat the Bears 96-82 in a game where the final score doesn't come close to showing the full dominance of OU over Mercer.
Three days before Auburn's trip to take on its first ranked opponent in No. 17 Iowa State, Tigers coach Tony Barbee said he didn't think his team was ready for a road test like the one the Cyclones present.
Barbee was right.
Iowa State shook off a sluggish start to blow out Auburn 99-70 at home, leaving the Tigers with work to do heading into a Sunday test against Illinois in Atlanta.
Shabazz Napier hit a jumper from the free throw line as time expired to keep No. 12 Connecticut undefeated with a 65-64 victory over No. 15 Florida on Monday night.
Napier, limping on a left ankle he hurt during a four-point play with 33 seconds left, escaped a trap around 30 feet from the basket and got off a wild shot that missed but was tipped blindly back by DeAndre Daniels. Napier grabbed the ball and let go a left-handed jumper that went through as the horn sounded and set off a deafening cheer from the sellout crowd of 10,167 at Gampel Pavilion.
Big XII composite schedule (includes results, highlights, stats)
ESPN College GameDay Schedule
2013-14 TV Schedule
2013-14 Early-season events schedule
2014 Huntington Prep (WV) guard JaQuan Lyle went for 41 points & 7 assists tonight.
Despite the 2014 draft class being considered one of the strongest of the last decade, with top college players Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Marcus Smart expected to feature in the early picks, it is tipped Exum could be taken in the top five should he enter the draft.
Bogut believes the teenager should ignore the pursuits of elite colleges such as Indiana, Louisville and Michigan and take his chances in the draft.
"He's a projected top-five pick and he could go to college and risk getting hurt," Bogut told Melbourne's SEN radio.
"You're also under the pressure of the scouts - they start to nitpick a little bit so it could hurt your spot as well."
Bogut, who became the first Australian to be drafted at number one when the Milwaukee Bucks came calling in 2005, believes Exum will heed his advice.
"I think he'll do the smart thing. I think he'll end up coming over here a little earlier and just training and working out and then enter the draft."
Rivals: Final Notes from Thanksgiving Hoopfest (free)
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