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The Hype Surrounding Andrew Wiggins

by: Staff Writer - posted on: 08-Nov-2013

In the scope of a sport like basketball, and especially at the collegiate level, one player or a small group of athletes can alter not only their new teams’ fate, but also the overall landscape of the national title picture.

Andrew Wiggins, following his announcement that he would be attending Kansas, seemed to do just that. Wiggins’ presence in the Jayhawk front court creates added depth for a team that, once again, has quality forward play and an expectation that they could be one of the best rebounding teams in America.

But just how good is Wiggins and the Jayhawks in general? That’s obviously a difficult question to answer given that we have yet to see them go up against anyone legitimate.

Wiggins is a phenomenal athlete who comes from a lineage of quality specimens. His brother, Nick, plays for Wichita State, a team that “shocked” many in getting to the Final Four a year ago. Their father, Mitchell, was a star at Florida State back in the 80’s. Mitchell’s wife, Marita, was a track star who competed for Canada in the 1984 Olympics.

Those sort of genes can go a long way toward what this kid can be. He is still a bit scrawny, but his game is both high-flying and physical. He is a little more quiet than some would prefer, but I believe he has the innate understanding to at least attempt to take games over when called upon. Whether or not he has the overall skill set to do that consistently early on in his career is a big unknown, however.

Wiggins will be joined in the Jayhawk front court by Perry Ellis and Tarik Black. Ellis is a sophomore with a nice frame who is still advancing the complexity of his overall offensive game. Black is a Memphis transfer who, at 6’9 and 260 pounds, is as physical an interior presence as there is perhaps in the nation.

Black was a huge coup for a team that loses Elijah Johnson and Ben McLemore and should have some legitimate depth concerns in general. Naadir Tharpe is a good point guard who should flourish as the lead man this season after having spent most of his first two years in a backup role.

Jamari Traylor gives the Jayhawks a dynamic and athletic presence off the bench. But the shooting guard position is a concern for Bill Self’s squad. They will likely be going with Wayne Selden and perhaps a bit of Conner Frankamp, a skinny, 6’0 freshmen from Wichita who can shoot lights out.

Players like Frank Mason, Joel Embiid and Andrew White III are unproven but do have talent. Bill Self brings in quality pieces for the most part, and this group has plenty of that.

I don’t see a team like this bullying Kentucky, Michigan State or Louisville on the glass if we are going to talk national title contention. But Kansas ranks right up there with them in that area.

As for the Big-12, Kansas has to be the favorite but they’ll have a few legitimate contenders to challenge them. Baylor is undergoing a transformation of sorts but boasts extensive talent throughout its roster. Oklahoma State has the best point guard in the country and a player in Le’Bryan Nash who can attack Wiggins from either the perimeter or interior.

It seems as if Bill Self has a team with talent but holes. Every year they seem to grow as the season progresses, which was the case last year. Traditionally, they have also been very sound defensively at the guard spots. That might be my biggest concern with them this season.

They should have limited trouble in protecting the boards and basket from a defensive perspective. Still, their guards have to prove they can support Wiggins and company in a way that enables this group to use its best attributes: interior dominance.

Forcing difficult shots and disrupting passing lanes will not only make it easier on the front court to make defensive plays, but it will also create transition opportunities that could allow Kansas to use its superb athleticism.

The Jayhawks are currently sitting around 6/1. They will be tested quickly, with early season games against Duke, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Georgetown on their schedule. I like what the Jayhawks could become, but also think they might run into some early season difficulties that may make people doubt them. I’d play their future at a more beneficial stage given the scheduling, and look for this to be one of the most interesting units in the nation.