The No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks have big hopes for the upcoming season, and that's because small forward Andrew Wiggins has the potential to lead his team to an NCAA title.
Wiggins, the top recruit in the nation, will be starting from Day 1 in Kansas. He has the potential to take over games, even if it may take him a few outings to adjust to a higher level of play.
It may not be fair to put him on a pedestal before watching him play at Kansas, but he has all the potential to be a Kevin Durant-type of player. The impact he'll have on Kansas will be exactly what they need to win it all this season.
Wiggins will be the focal point of the offensive attack, even with Bill Self's high-low attack favoring post play and screens to create chances. He's unbelievably athletic and handles the ball like a point guard, meaning he'll still get plenty of opportunities to handle the ball, especially with the Jayhawks' point guard situation in a state of flux.
His ability to handle the ball will be a huge advantage for the Jayhawks. His passing ability is above average, and coupling that with his ball skills, it'll almost be like Kansas has two point guards on the floor at once.
This passing ability will work well in Kansas' offense. Wiggins will look to set up Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis near the basket when he's inevitably double-teamed. He fits well into the offense, and his ability to hit jumpers means that not only can he dish to Selden and Perry, he can receive passes and punish any team who leaves him open.
Defensively, Wiggins has the length and commitment to make an impact. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress is a big fan of the freshman's skills on defense: "Defensively, Wiggins has all the tools to be a menace at his position, with his long arms, excellent size and terrific athleticism." His size and speed make him a fantastic defender, allowing him to defend bigger interior players, or smaller wing players, and even guards. While he hasn't proven himself on this end of the floor, the tools are all there for him to shine.
His athleticism will also make him an absolute force on the fast break. Imagine watching Wiggins pulling down a rebound, then watching his 6'8" frame streaking down court to throw down a thunderous dunk, leading the breakaway with his fantastic ball handling and passing. The tools he brings to the table in that scenario are enough to keep opposing coaches up at night.
This doesn't mean Wiggins is a sure thing; we've seen plenty of great talents struggle to adjust to the college game, or wind up in a situation that doesn't fit their skill set. Highly recruited talents like Josh Selby have gone to Kansas and struggled mightily to make a consistent impact.
That said, the talented freshman is as close to a can't-miss prospect as you'll find in basketball. His skills fit perfectly into Kansas' system, and given his reputation as a hard worker, it's extremely tough to see him turning into a Selby-like disappointment.
Wiggins' all-around game is a formidable weapon, and one that should propel the Jayhawks deep into March Madness. They'll face stern competition; Michigan State is featuring its most talented roster in quite some time, and Kentucky welcomes the deepest, most talented recruiting class that any program has ever seen. Even so, none of them can brag a talent as unique and as strong as Wiggins seems to be.
Ultimately, it's that talent that gives Kansas an edge this season; he's the kind of player coaches dream about getting; the hard-working, athletic big man who can handle the rock like someone 6 inches shorter than he is. At the end of the day, he'll be tough to stop and will power the Jayhawks to another national title.