The Jayhawks are ready to tip-off the season for real. Ranked No. 5 in the first Associated Press poll, the new-look Kansas Jayhawks are Bill Self’s most hyped team since he arrived in Lawrence. This is all thanks to one player: Andrew Wiggins.
ESPN and multiple other recruiting sites named Wiggins the number one recruit in the 2013 class. He has been compared to the likes of Wilt Chamberlin, Danny Manning and Lebron James. A self admitted one-and-done, Jayhawk fans should enjoy seeing Wiggins play while they can. However, Wiggins is not the only high profile recruit on the 2013-14 roster. Joel Embiid was the sixth rated prospect and is projected by many to closely follow Wiggins’ selection in the NBA draft. Wayne Selden was rated 14th on ESPN and is yet another player on the KU roster who will likely only be on campus for one year. The 2013-14 season should be another special one for KU fans, so buckle up and enjoy the ride.
New Look: Naadir Tharpe and Jamari Traylor are the only returning players who played significant minutes last year. Bill Self has many new players to institute in his system. Tharpe should provide a consistent point guard presence in his first year starting. Joel Embiid has big shoes to fill with replacing Jeff Withey, but he showed flashes of brilliance in the Jayhawk’s two preseason games. Wiggins will obviously be the Jayhawk’s feature player and can guard pretty much any position on the court. rank Mason, Jamari Traylor, Landen Lucas, Brannen Greene, Conner Frankamp and others will give the Jayhawks plenty of quality depth.
New Rules: A big focus of the new college basketball season will be the changes in rules regarding the controversial block/charge and handchecking on defense.
From Curtis Shaw, head of Big 12 officiating: “I will tell you, the focus of playing tough, physical defense was never the game of basketball. So I think we are just going back to the rules of basketball, saying let’s go back to playing an athletic game, not a physical game. The forearm is our kids’ favorite move these days. It’s a foul. Don’t play with your arms on the offensive player.”
Season Prediction: Don’t be mistaken. This KU team will face growing pains this season and will, as all teams do, drop a few games they shouldn’t. I expect the Jayhawks to go 26-5 in the regular season, with losses coming against Duke, at Florida, at Iowa State, at Oklahoma State and at Baylor. There is no reason to believe this team isn’t built to go deep into the NCAA tournament even with their young age. Anything less than the Sweet 16 should be disappointing for Jayhawk fans this year.