If you thought the hype surrounding Andrew Wiggins couldn’t get any bigger, this week’s cover of Sports Illustrated should throw you for a loop.
Not only does Wiggins have to live to being perhaps the best recruit since Kevin Durant or perhaps LeBron James, but now he’s being compared to two of the best college players of all-time: Wilt Chamberlain and Danny Manning. Chamberlain and Manning, both KU alums, were dominant college players who had great success in the pro game as well.
The comparison between Wiggins and these aforementioned Kansas basketball legends isn’t unbeknownst to KU fans, but now a national audience will expect to have a similar impact this season at KU. Chamberlain led KU to the 1957 NCAA Title Game where they lost in triple-overtime to North Carolina and Manning led Kansas on an improbable run to the 1988 National Championship.
Although the cover seems to be comparing these three players, I think it’s capitalizing on an unbelievable connection between them: Danny Manning arrived at KU 29 years after Wilt Chamberlain and now Andrew Wiggins has arrived 29 years after Manning made his debut as a Jayhawk. It may just be a coincidence that the three came in a pattern after one another and came in with gigantic expectations, but it’s astonishing nonetheless.
Luckily for Wiggins, he shouldn’t have to shoulder the load for Kansas this team with a talented mix of newcomers and veterans filling out the Jayhawk roster. The talent around Wiggins won’t prevent naysayers from criticizing his play on the court this season, but it’s reassuring to know that Wiggins doesn’t come in and average 26 points a game like Durant did in his only season at Texas. Wiggins just has to play within himself and he should live up to hype of the Sports Illustrated cover.
At a time where Kansas basketball may be the epicenter of the college basketball universe, the spotlight will shine brightly on Lawrence, KS for the next six months.
Kelly Oubre’s Father throws jab at Calipari, Kentucky
The other big news for Jayhawk nation was the announcement that consensus top-15 recruit Kelly Oubre had committed to KU less than five days after attending Late Night in the Phog.
Oubre had narrowed his schools down to Kansas and Kentucky, which only increased the recruiting rivalry between the two schools.
After making his decision, Oubre’s father, Kelly Sr., had some interesting things to say about the way Kentucky runs its basketball program in a Lawrence Journal-World story by Gary Bedore:
“Coach Self doesn’t kick you out if you are not ready. I don’t care too much for it (one-and-done) because if you look at it over the last couple drafts, the success of the guys one-and-done is few and far between.”
Kentucky’s recruiting won’t suffer because of these comments, but you have to be surprised about how candid Oubre, Sr. was about the recruitment of his son and why he ultimately chose Kansas. Kentucky and Kansas will continue to battle for the best players in the country and it should be exciting to see how this year’s recruiting class shapes out for both schools.