Kansas Basketball Recruiting: How Andrew Wiggins' Decision Will Affect Jayhawks
In the wake of Friday's Sweet 16 overtime loss, Bill Self must bid ado to his entire starting five and turn his attention to one of the most talented recruiting classes in his tenure.
While Self has wrapped up a beautifully deep five-member class, headlined by scoring machine Wayne Selden and Wichita native Conner Frankamp, there remains room for one more big fish.
Andrew Wiggins, the consensus No. 1 player in the country, visited Lawrence four weeks ago and is considering Kansas along with Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida State. The 6'7", 205-pound do-it-all small forward is arguably the best all-around player in the one-and-done era.
The Jayhawks face a mass exodus similar to that of 2008 when they lost six of their top seven players, returning only Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich.
Their projected 2013-14 rotation features two centers without a minute of college experience in redshirt freshman Landen Lucas and incoming seven-footer Joel Embiid. Perry Ellis will be expected to provide 30 minutes per game at power forward, backed up Jamari Traylor and Justin Wesley.
Naadir Tharpe will surely become KU's starting point guard, but what combination of scorers will he be distributing to?
Selden will likely step into Ben McLemore's spot as their primary scorer, potentially alongside four-star shooting guard Brannen Greene in the starting lineup, giving Kansas an absurdly athletic and physical three-man backcourt.
Incoming 5'11" point guard Frank Mason could be a redshirt candidate instead of providing scattered minutes backing up Tharpe.
Andrew White III's future role is largely undefined, as is Rio Adams'. Both appear to be untapped four-year program players, but it might be another season before each can produce at an elite level.
Where does this leave us without that sixth recruit? With an array question marks on both ends of the floor.
Wiggins immediately curbs those question marks in solidifying a young, yet dangerous, eight- or nine-man rotation.
His long, athletic 6'7" frame allows him to battle for offensive boards but quickly re-gain defensive position in transition. Like Ben McLemore, Wiggins' body control might be the best in the country next season as he seamlessly splits double-teams and explodes over defenders. He can also nail the baseline jumper or hit a turnaround floater, overpower undersized shooting guards or blow by delicate small forwards.
While his defensive recognition and passing could use improvement, his versatility would give Self a bevy of options for Selden, Greene and even Ellis. Foul trouble would rarely test the depth of the Kansas bench with potential three-big or four-guard lineups.
Travis Releford became the Big 12's best defender because of an elastic-like advantageous demeanor in guarding a 5'9" point guard or limiting a 6'8" physical forward. Andrew Wiggins would bring that same style of play to the offensive end with an innate ability to face up any defender, penetrate against the zone and capitalize on the continuous ball-movement of the high-low system.
There surely must be another serviceable candidate for that sixth spot in the 2013 class, right? Wrong. Excluding Wiggins, three players in the ESPNU 100 remain uncommitted and none are seriously considering Kansas.
A last-minute pledge or transfer would likely receive a redshirt or sparse bench minutes, certainly not enough to provide an adequate immediate presence or dynamic one that Wiggins could provide.
Does Kansas have a Final Four team without Andrew Wiggins? Maybe. Will Wiggins' presence inhibit the further development of Brannen Greene, Andrew White and potentially Wayne Selden as program players? Maybe.
The Huntington Prep forward's decision is monumental and will dramatically impact the Jayhawks regardless of landing spot.
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