With Late Night at the Phog creeping ever so closely upon us, Jayhawk fans everywhere are anxiously awaiting their first glimpse at the highly anticipated freshman, Andrew Wiggins. Already being dubbed the next Lebron James, Wiggins has insurmountable expectations thrust upon him. Can he live up to all the hype, or will he be another top recruit that falls short of his potential?
In my opinion, there is way too much pressure on the back of this 18-year-old. Perhaps fans should wait until Wiggins has at least a few real college games under his belt before setting outrageous expectations.
There is no doubt Wiggins has immense talent and potential, but no one truly knows how good he will be at this level. Although he faced the best high school talent and outperformed them all, it is going to be an entirely new challenge at Kansas. Not only will he be going up against a lot of those same players, but he will also be battling against NBA caliber players who have college basketball experience.
Another thing to look at is the history of top recruits that have played for head coach Bill Self. Xavier Henry was the second ranked shooting guard in the 2009 class. He did perform well, but did not do it consistently enough. Henry was drafted No. 13 overall in the 2009 NBA draft, but since leaving Kansas, he’s struggled to find his identity at the next level.
It happened again only one year later with highly touted point guard Josh Selby. According to Rivals.com, Selby was the No. 1 player in the country as a senior in high school. After sitting out the first nine games due to NCAA violations, he came in and showed signs of being the highly-talented player Kansas recruited. Ultimately he underperformed in the eyes of many fans and left for the NBA after only one season.
At Kansas, Selby either did one of two things: made a huge impact, or looked lost. In his final 13 games he did not reach double figures once. Kansas’s head coach Bill Self has traditionally been a coach who uses a system that does not require one guy to have to stand out every night, he is a great team minded coach that produces wins while getting the most out of his whole team.
I don’t see Andrew Wiggins living up to all the hype that is associated with him. This team and this coach will not allow it. That being said, I still think he will have a great year and Kansas will win a lot of games. They certainly have the talent to push for not only another Big 12 championship, but possibly a National championship. A reasonable year for Wiggins will be averaging 12-15 points a game, while making his presence felt in other aspects of the game, including defensively. He is not going to be a Kevin Durant or Michael Beasley scoring 20 plus points a game. He simply has too much talent around him to allow that kind of production. There are only so many shots and minutes in a ball game, and he will be sharing those.
He will be the leader of the team, and Kansas will go as far as he is able to take them, but that will not be enough. There will be critics that say he is not living up to his top recruit value, and the average fan will agree because he won’t be scoring. This will become prevalent when they lose a couple games, but as long as they are winning, nothing will be said. He will live up to what Bill Self expects if he is able to do all the other things he will be asked to do.