Kansas vs. Duke: Top Pro Prospects in 2013 Champions Classic Showdown

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistNovember 12, 2013

Nov 8, 2013; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Andrew Wiggins (22) celebrates after scoring during the second half of the game against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won 80 - 63. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

All eyes will be glued to the nation's premier recruits when freshmen Andrew Wiggins of Kansas and Jabari Parker of Duke face off in the Champions Classic on Tuesday night.

Viewers will receive more than a masterful battle of coaching wits between Kansas' Bill Self and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski. In the big picture, these two NCAA titans could meet again in March with much more on the line.

On an even grander scale, Wiggins and Parker—the two potential future faces of the NBA—will be introduced to the college basketball world.

HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy hit the nail on the head when declaring this match must-see TV:

By the way, Wiggins and Parker aren't the only projected NBA lottery picks slated to take the court in Chicago, so loyal fans rooting for bottom-feeding NBA teams will want to watch the Champions Classic. When the night ends, they just might root for their NBA squad to tank the 2013-14 campaign in order to get a shot at some of the future stars on hand.


Small Fordward Andrew Wiggins, Kansas

LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 08:  Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Kansas Jayhawks shoots during the game against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at Allen Fieldhouse on November 8, 2013 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Wiggins is the type of talent that could entirely sway a franchise's fortune. 

The 18-year-old Canadian has all the skills to morph into a superstar. Few prospects have ever matched his athleticism, and he offers a silky-smooth shooting touch to match. Wiggins could blossom into a star on both ends of the court, using his large frame and agile quickness to frustrate opponents while playing defense and create plays all over the court.

Wiggins scored 16 points in a relatively quiet debut for Kansas in its season opener, attempting just nine shots during a runaway victory over Louisiana Monroe. As the freshman assimilates to the college game, he'll assume an enhanced role for the Jayhawks.  

Like his near-namesake Andrew Wiggin, Wiggins is being saddled with immense expectations to deliver as a prodigal sensation. It bears to keep watching Wiggins, who would likely be the No. 1 pick if the NBA draft commenced today. 


Small  Forward Jabari Parker, Duke 

Parker is no slouch either.

He entered the national limelight before turning 18, landing a Sports Illustrated front cover and feature story praising him as the next LeBron James. But hey, no pressure.

The superlatives have since died down, as Parker has fallen behind Wiggins and Kentucky's Julius Randle in the pecking order. However, Parker began his quest to again become the top attraction in his collegiate debut against Davidson, delivering 22 points and six boards.

That explosive performance earned him ACC Rookie of the Week honors.

Parker is a gifted scorer at 6'9", but the weight that he put on during the offseason that gives him more of frame like a power forward. Still, he possesses a tremendous basketball IQ and can create looks in open space.

Facing off against one another will provide an intriguing initial test for both Wiggins and Parker.


Center Joel Embiid, Kansas

Oct 29, 2013; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid (21) dunks the ball during the second half of the game against the Pittsburg State Gorillas at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks won 97-57. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Did I mention that the top center in the upcoming NBA draft class will also take the court Tuesday night?

In his latest mock NBA draft, Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman pegged Embiid as the first big man off the board at No. 5. The seven-footer boasts massive upside as a throwback center who can dominate down low.

Despite not taking up basketball until 2011, Embiid displays an advanced arsenal of skills for a college freshman. He's a freakish athlete with the ability to post up or sink an occasional outside jumper, and his 7'5" wingspan makes him a menace defending the rim.

Any talented prospect of his size and stature usually enters the draft in high demand, so don't be surprised if Embiid pushes his way even higher up the mock drafts with a strong season. He only logged 11 minutes in Kansas' opener, but this seems like a great time to unleash him against the Blue Devils.