Kansas Off to Good Big 12 Start After Dismantling of K-State

Posted by Taylor Erickson on January 12th, 2014

If you spent the last few days listening to media types in northeast Kansas, Saturday’s rendition of the Sunflower Showdown was supposed to be different. Kansas State entered the game on a 10-game winning streak after stumbling out of the gate. The Wildcats were surging behind a much improved defensive effort, and freshman guard Marcus Foster was making a strong case as one of the best players in the league. Kansas, on the other hand, was a confidence-stricken team that already had four losses on the season. A little less than a week ago, San Diego State had waltzed into Allen Fieldhouse and snapped Kansas’ 68-game non-conference home winning streak. The overwhelming youth and inexperience residing in Lawrence had Bruce Weber believing his team could steal a win against their intrastate rival. Kansas was supposed to be vulnerable.

Andrew Wiggins threw down on monster dunk on his way to a 22 point performance. (Nick Krug/KUSports.com)

Andrew Wiggins threw down this monster dunk on his way to a 22-point performance. (Nick Krug/KUSports.com)

Instead, what followed in Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon mimicked what we’ve seen so often in this Sunflower State rivalry. Kansas jumped out to a 17-point lead off of a 14-assist, zero turnover effort in the first half. The second half featured more of the same, as the Jayhawks outscored Kansas State by nine on their way to and 86-60 victory behind Andrew Wiggins’ 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the floor. The previous five games between these two teams in Lawrence have followed a similar pattern, with Kansas winning by an average of 19 points per game during that span.

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Four Takeaways From Kansas’ Win Over Oklahoma

Posted by Kory Carpenter on January 9th, 2014

It’s true that a team’s conference opener is never a “must-win game,” but the road to Kansas’ 10th straight Big 12 championship would have gotten a lot tougher had the Jayhawks lost at Oklahoma Wednesday evening. The Sooners aren’t bad at all, but with the next four Kansas games coming against Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Baylor, the Jayhawks’ hole in the conference race would have felt much bigger than 0-1. Alas, Kansas escaped with a 90-83 victory in Norman, improving to 10-4 on the year and showing some glimpses of their potential in March. Here are four key takeaways from last night’s win.

Wayne Selden had everything working against the Sooners. (AP)

Wayne Selden had everything working against the Sooners. (AP)

  1. Wayne Selden scored in double-figures for just the fifth time this season, finishing with a career-high 24 points and showing us why he is a projected first round draft pick in June. He was 5-of-10 from three-point range, and while it appeared to be a flukish shooting night (his three-point shooting on the season is at 37.5 percent), it should give him plenty of confidence going forward. The Jayhawks desperately need consistent long-range shooting to open up the lane for its drivers and big men, and Selden is as good a candidate as any. Read the rest of this entry »
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Four Takeaways From Kansas’ Win Over New Mexico

Posted by kory Carpenter is a RTC Big 12 contributor. You can find him on Twitter @Kory_Carpenter on December 16th, 2013

Kansas rebounded from last week’s loss to Florida nicely Saturday night with an 80-63 win over New Mexico in Kansas City. The Jayhawks had lost three out of four games coming into that one, but showed signs of improvement against a good Lobos squad. It was a strong enough performance to jump Kansas from #13 to #6 on kenpom.com. Here are a few takeaways from Saturday night’s win.

Don't expect Joel Embiid to be in Lawrence much longer. (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

Don’t expect Joel Embiid to be in Lawrence much longer. (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

  1. Naadir Tharpe looks to be Bill Self’s point guard going forward. He had lost the starting job over the previous two games to freshman Frank Mason, but the switch wasn’t successful. Mason has a higher ceiling but he isn’t a true point guard, at least not at this point in his career. In the two games he started against Colorado and Florida, Mason averaged only two assists per game and committed seven turnovers. Tharpe returned to the starting unit against New Mexico, played 37 minutes, and had a better than 2:1 assist/turnover ratio in the contest (nine assists, four turnovers). The question remains whether he can bring that kind of performance to bear for six consecutive games in March, but there is no use looking anywhere else at this point.
  2. Bill Self joked after the game that the more freshman center Joel Embiid plays, the less time he will spend in Lawrence. The Cameroon native had 18 points in 25 minutes, shot 80 percent from the free throw line, grabbed six rebounds, rejected four shots, and gave us an Hakeem Olajuwon/Dream Shake impression that not many other college players can do (and really, how many pros?). With so few talented centers in the NBA and a history of GMs drafting on the notion of potential, don’t be shocked if Embiid jumps over the superstar freshman trio of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle and gets selected No. 1 overall in next summer’s NBA Draft. He has that much upside. Read the rest of this entry »
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After Toppling Kansas, Villanova Beginning To Look The Part Of Big East Title Contender Again

Posted by Bennet Hayes on November 30th, 2013

It’s not too difficult to conjure up memories of recent Villanova glory days. Just three and a half years ago, Jay Wright had his Wildcats heading to the NCAA Tournament as a #2 seed, his program fresh off a Final Four appearance the year before. The Cats had won 12 NCAA Tournament games in the five years prior, and the 2010 team was both deep and young: Of the 11 Wildcats to average eight minutes a game that year, only two were seniors. The future was bright. And then Robert Morris happened. Villanova survived the #15 seed Colonials on that fateful March day (by the thinnest of margins: 73-70 in OT), but Jay Wright is still seeking his next Tournament victory. Saint Mary’s dispatched the Wildcats from the Dance two days later, and the three years since have witnessed a program mired in mediocrity. After a detour to the NIT in 2012, last year’s plucky group managed navigate its way back to the Tournament, but nobody was mistaking those Wildcats for the talent-laden teams of the early Wright era. A team built upon a similar foundation was expected this season – a gritty, defensive minded group that would be capable of stealing wins on their homecourt. All those things may yet be true, but after a convincing win over Kansas on Friday, it may be time to add one more descriptor to the 2013-14 Villanova Wildcats – Big East title contenders.

James Bell, JayVaughn Pinkston, And The Rest Of The Wildcats Gave Kansas Fits On Friday Night -- Will Iowa Be Subject To The Same Torture Tonight?    (Photo Credit: USA Today Sports)

James Bell, JayVaughn Pinkston, And The Rest Of The Wildcats Gave Kansas Fits On Friday Night — Will Iowa Be Subject To The Same Torture This Evening? (Photo Credit: USA Today Sports)

Last year’s Villanova’s team scored more than its fair share of big wins. They knocked off four of the Big East’s five best teams (all of whom were ranked in the top 20 at the time of defeat), but each of those victories came on the Wildcats’ home floor. Furthermore, when you remove that quartet of signature victories, Villanova went just 2-12 against teams that finished in in the top 75 of the Pomeroy Ratings. Throw in a charity stripe festival or two at the Wachovia Center – a +34 free throw differential assisted in the Nova upset of then #5 Georgetown – and you can see why last year’s team never quite established themselves as an upper-echelon Big East club.

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Kansas Lands Alexander, Misses On Jones & Okafor

Posted by Taylor Erickson on November 15th, 2013

It’s official. Cliff Alexander, a 6’9″ power forward from Curie (Chicago) High School, is headed to Kansas next season.

Alexander Is Headed to Kansas Next Season

Alexander Is Headed to Kansas Next Season

In a ceremony at his high school on Friday afternoon, Alexander announced his commitment to Bill Self and the Jayhawks for the 2014-15 season, joining fellow top prospect and Kansas commit Kelly Oubre, a 6’7″ swingman from Sugar Land, Texas, via Findlay Prep in Las Vegas. Alexander is a physical athlete that plays above the rim and will be expected to make an instant impact in Lawrence next season. The Chicago big man was believed to be solid on Kansas just a few short weeks ago, but gained momentum to Illinois as of late when many believe Kansas backed off on Alexander in an attempt to focus their efforts on Jahlil Okafor, Rivals’ number one ranked recruit in this year’s class. It was believed that Alexander’s long-standing relationship with former Illini assistant and current Kansas assistant coach Jerrance Howard, coupled with the fact that his girlfriend plays basketball for the Jayhawks, would be enough to lure the talented big man to Kansas. If current Kansas center Joel Embiid bolts for the NBA after this season, as many anticipate, Alexander will easily help fill the void and solidify the Kansas frontcourt along side sophomores Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor next year. Landing Alexander continues Self’s recent success on the recruiting trail after hauling in the second ranked class in 2013 with Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden and Embiid, among others. The combination of Alexander and Oubre, along with the Jayhawks’ returning talent next season should have Bill Self’s squad poised once again as a legitimate title contender in March 2015. Read the rest of this entry »

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Big 12 M5: 11.14.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 14th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. Oklahoma State freshman Stevie Clark is adjusting quickly to the college game. Clark has put up some very efficient numbers in the early going, averaging 12 points and seven assists in just 21 minutes of action per game. If he can maintain a similar level of production behind Marcus Smart as the Cowboys’ schedule toughens up, Clark will have a great case for being the league’s best sixth man. Oklahoma State is still searching for answers down low, but between Smart, Clark, Markel Brown and Phil Forte, the Cowboys have an embarrassment of riches in their backcourt.
  2. Iowa State continues to receive outstanding contributions from its newcomers, but Tuesday night, it was junior forward Dustin Hogue who stepped up for Fred Hoiberg’s team by chipping in 13 points on just six shots to go along with eight rebounds and two steals against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Cyclones will be without Melvin Ejim against Michigan this Sunday in Ames, but encouraging performances throughout ISU’s roster this week and an amazing homecourt advantage could give them just what they need to beat the Wolverines.
  3. The Kansas Jayhawks have found production on their bench to weather early storms of foul trouble, according to Blair Kerkhoff of The Kansas City Star. Frank Mason and Brannen Greene are just two players who tend to get lost in the shuffle behind KU’s star-studded starting lineup, but they’ve provided huge minutes in supporting roles as the season has lifted off. As freshmen, they’ll only get better, so opponents shouldn’t expect a huge drop-off when Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden need to catch a few breathers.
  4. There were no surprises in Lawrence on National Signing Day Wednesday. Kelly Oubre, who committed to the Jayhawks earlier this semester, sent in his NLI, cementing his pledge to play for Kansas next season. Oubre figures to take Andrew Wiggins’ place in the KU rotation as an explosive, long-armed wing. Kansas remains in the hunt for Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, who will announce their decisions at the same time on Friday afternoon.
  5. Kansas State bounced back from an ugly early loss to Northern Colorado by taking care of Oral Roberts in a 71-63 win Wednesday night. Freshman Marcus Foster joined some esteemed company, becoming the first Wildcat freshman since Michael Beasley to score 25 points in a game. Head coach Bruce Weber has repeatedly insisted that his veterans need to lead offensively, and while that’s certainly an understandable sentiment, there are no sure things in his lineup. It would be wonderful for Kansas State if Shane Southwell, Will Spradling and Thomas Gipson could be counted on for 40 combined points on a nightly basis, but in the meantime, our unsolicited advice to Bruce Weber is to take your points wherever you can get them.
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Big 12 Team Preview: Kansas Jayhawks

Posted by KoryCarpenter on November 8th, 2013

This week, the Big 12 microsite will finish previewing each of the league’s 10 teams. Today: Kansas.

Where We Left Off: With seven minutes left in its Sweet Sixteen match-up with Michigan, Kansas led by 14 points. With 21 seconds left, the lead had dwindled but the Jayhawks still held a controlling five-point lead. Not long after that, Michigan guard Trey Burke’s last-second three-pointer sent the game to overtime, and the Wolverines held on to win the game, 87-85. That game was a microcosm of Kansas’ season, with senior point guard Elijah Johnson committing five turnovers without tallying a single assist. All five starters either graduated or, in freshman guard Ben McLemore’s case, declared for the NBA Draft. At the time, the nation’s No. 2 recruiting class – led by five-star recruit Wayne Selden – softened the blow of another tough March loss for Bill Self. But a little less than two months later, everything changed when No. 1 overall recruit Andrew Wiggins committed to Kansas and transformed this year’s team from a top-25 squad into national title contenders.

Andrew Wiggins Has A Lot Of Reasons To Be Smiling These Days.

Andrew Wiggins Has A Lot Of Reasons To Be Smiling These Days.

PositivesThe Jayhawks have more talent and balance than almost any team in the country. Andrew Wiggins is the CBSSports.com Preseason Player of the Year, an AP First-Team All-American, and the projected No. 1 pick in next summer’s NBA Draft. He’ll be joined on the perimeter by the No. 12 overall player in the 2013 class, Wayne Selden, forming one of the best backcourts in the country. Freshman center Joel Embiid has only been playing basketball for a few seasons but skyrocketed up the recruiting rankings during his senior year, ending up at 25th overall and a projected lottery pick next summer. He’s unlikely to even start at the beginning of the season. That looks to be Memphis transfer Tarik Black, who graduated early and is able to play immediately at Kansas. Even with three potential lottery picks in the starting lineup, Bill Self has said that sophomore forward Perry Ellis could lead the team in scoring. I wouldn’t bet on that, but Ellis did come on strong late last season, leading the team with 14.3 PPG in the Big 12 Tournament. There isn’t a big dropoff when Self looks to his bench, either. Three freshmen – Brannen Greene, Conner Frankamp, and Frank Mason - were four-star recruits and will be fighting for playing time this season on the perimeter behind Selden and Wiggins.

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Big 12 M5: 10.24.13 Edition

Posted by Kory Carpenter on October 24th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. While Travis Ford and Marcus Smart continue to talk about the budding rivalry with Kansas and Andrew Wiggins, Wiggins seems more worried about not wearing his ankle braces in the shower. Ok, not quite. But the heralded freshman and likely No. 1 pick in next summer’s draft appears to be as down to earth as someone can be in his situation, saying things like, “You can’t take any plays off,” to Gary Bedore of the Lawrence-Journal World at Big 12 Media Day. “The person you are guarding may be as good as you.” Probably not, in Wiggins’ case. But we get the point.
  2. Not unlike coaches in any sport, Fred Hoiberg is looking for anything he can use for motivation heading into this season. This week, he found it in a USA Today Big 12 poll. After seeing his Cyclones picked by one voter to finish 10th in the 10-team Big 12, Hoiberg pounced on the opportunity. “That is the one ranking I showed our guys,” Hoiberg said at Big 12 Media Day on Tuesday. “That is the thing I like about being picked low, and then you try to go out and prove people wrong.”
  3. Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com unveiled his top 30 freshmen heading into the season, and we’ll jsut skip over Andrew Wiggins, of course, landing the top spot. Wiggins was joined by Kansas teammates Wayne Selden (#7) and Joel Embiid (#9) but only one other Big 12 player made the final cut: Iowa State guard Matt Thomas at #25. Here is what Borzello had to say about the 6’3″ shooting guard from Onalaska, Wisconsin: “The Cyclones led the nation in 3-pointers per game last season, but their entire perimeter group is gone. That’s where Thomas steps in. He was one of the best shooters in the country.”
  4. Good coaches are able to change their style of play if needed to fit their personnel, and that is exactly what Bob Huggins will try to do this season at West Virginia. The Mountaineers went 6-12 in the Big 12 last season (13-19 overall), and lost their highest scoring big man in Deniz Kilicli. “We’ve gone from, I think, trying to ineffectively throw it inside to where we’re going to be more of a perimeter team,” Huggins told Mike Casazza of the Charleston (W.V.) Daily Mail at Big 12 Media Day. After last season’s debacle, the change of play is worth a shot.
  5. With the 2014 Final Four being played in the Big 12’s backyard at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Final Four officials spent some time at Big 12 Media Day in Kansas City this week to discuss the event. Dallas Cowboys executive Charlotte Anderson said she expects 80,000 people to attend each game, a new record for the event. She didn’t, however, estimate how many fans will be able to see the court from their seats. The only other question is whether a Big 12 team can get there — Kansas and Oklahoma State certainly will have a reasonable shot.
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Big 12 M5: 10.22.13 Edition

Posted by Kory Carpenter on October 22nd, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. The CBSSports.com crew held a college basketball fantasy draft yesterday and not too surprisingly, Andrew Wiggins and Marcus Smart went No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Kansas center Joel Embiid was the next Big 12 player taken at #12 overall, followed by Baylor center Isaiah Austin at #18. Kansas freshman guard Wayne Selden (#20) made it five Big 12 players in the top 20, all of whom are underclassmen. Other notable selections included Kentucky freshman Julius Randle at #3 and Duke freshman Jabari Parker at #5. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s three of the five best players in the country (according to CBS) playing at the Champions Classic next month in Chicago.
  2. Chris Johnson at Sports Illustrated wrote a solid article on Oklahoma State coming into the season and how the Cowboys will challenge Kansas for the Big 12 championship. Oklahoma State returns its top three leading scorers in Marcus Smart, Le’Bryan Nash and Markel Brown. As Johnson notes, the Cowboys were the Big 12 favorites until mid-April. That is when Andrew Wiggins committed to the Jayhawks, putting Kansas back in the driver’s seat for its 10th straight Big 12 regular season title. With Smart leading the Cowboys’ offense as a sophomore, Oklahoma State has enough firepower to win the conference but everyone knows that knocking off Kansas won’t be an easy task.
  3. Yahoo!’s Jeff Eisenberg had more to say yesterday about Marcus Smart’s recent comments on Andrew Wiggins. “They are saying he is the best college player there is and he has not even played a game yet,” Smart said. “Of course that hypes me up.” It’s not like Smart said anything controversial there, or that he even said anything untrue about the precocious Kansas freshman. He truthfully hasn’t played a college game yet. As Eisenberg says, credit to Smart for actually answering questions and not spewing cliches. The great thing is that Wiggins and Bill Self will use those words as extra motivation when the teams meet at least twice this season, unfortunately still a few months away.
  4. In what is more of a dubious list, Iowa State‘s Melvin Ejim was listed among the 15 least appreciated players by CBSSports.com on Monday. The Iowa State senior big man will be one of the best forwards in the Big 12 this season, without question. But as CBS noted, he nearly averaged a double-double a season ago (11.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG) and he will need to duplicate those numbers if Iowa State has plans to again compete with the top of the Big 12 along with Kansas, Oklahoma State, and Baylor.
  5. According to Kevin Doyle at NBCSports.com, defense is what will carry the Texas Longhorns this season. Rick Barnes: “We haven’t been good the last couple years. We will play harder and play better defense. With the size we have, we’ll be able to protect the rim.” With so many losses in personnel from last year’s team, defense will be the only thing that could save Barnes’ job next spring. The Longhorns are young and the administration may finally be getting restless in Austin.
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Observations From Early Morning in the Phog on Saturday

Posted by Kory Carpenter on October 20th, 2013

There is a reason Bill Self tries to get recruits to visit for the annual Late Night in the Phog each October. The event has led to a number of commitments over the years, most recently when Kelly Oubre, the #12 overall recruit in the class of 2014 according the Rivals.com, committed to the Jayhawks a few days after taking in Late Night festivities this year. But when the schedule didn’t match up with those of a pair of top recruits this year, Self decided to have a Late Night Part II. He opened the doors to Allen Fieldhouse Saturday morning for a scrimmage lasting about an hour, and an estimated 10,000 fans showed up. Here are a few observations from the informal (and raw) scrimmage:

Bill Self Teaching at Kansas' Open Practice Saturday Morning

Bill Self Teaching at Kansas’ Open Practice Saturday Morning

  • The fact that over 5,000 fans were turned away at the door before Late Night in the Phog earlier this month was surely one of the reasons for the open scrimmage, but more importantly were the visits from two of the best recruits in the class of 2014: Jahlil Okafor (C, #1 overall on Rivals) and Tyus Jones (PG, #5). Jones walked in with the team and Jones walked in 15 minutes later to a standing ovation. Everything points to the duo as a package deal to one lucky school next year, and both players have visited or plan to visit four of the same schools: Baylor, Duke, Kentucky, and Kansas. Best guess? Kansas or Duke.
  • The starting five looks to be set, with Naadir Tharpe, Wayne Selden, Andrew Wiggins, Perry Ellis and Tarik Black starting the first scrimmage for the blue team. The only real discussion seemed to be between Black, a senior transfer from Memphis, and Joel Embiid, a true freshman from Cameroon. It was no surprise that Black got the nod from Self this early in the season, especially after watching him play. He looked like a 21-year-old with three seasons of college ball under his belt and was strong around the rim, but…
  • Joel Embiid will be starting before the season ends. He has played only a few seasons of organized basketball in his life, but he has all the tools to be a great player for years to come: solid footwork, a soft touch, the ability to finish with either hand, and a legitimate 7-foot body. When things start to click, whether it happens in November or January, he will be one of the best big men in the country. There is a reason Rick Pitino said Embiid could be the No. 2 overall draft pick behind Andrew Wiggins in next summer’s NBA Draft. He is currently a mid-to-late lottery projection in most mock drafts.

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Big 12 M5: 10.14.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 14th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. A big part of Iowa State‘s rise under Fred Hoiberg has come from the Cyclones’ ability to trump expectations and get the most out of its talent. After ISU outperformed predictions in the last two seasons, the league’s coaches are done sleeping on them.  Big 12 coaches pegged Iowa State to finish fourth in Thursday’s preseason poll after being tabbed eighth in 2011 and 2012. The Cyclones enter this season hoping to do something they haven’t done since 1997: make the NCAA Tournament for a third straight time. With the transfers that made up the core of Hoiberg’s teams the last two seasons now graduated, the vast majority of ISU’s roster will consist of players “The Mayor” recruited out of high school. Fourth place in the conference is definitely a reasonable goal for Iowa State this season, and it’s not difficult to see them finishing ahead of preseason third-place pick Baylor if things break just right.
  2. Yahoo! Sports‘ Jeff Eisenberg compiled a list of 10 freshmen capable of making big impacts in 2013-14 and you’ll never guess which Kansas newcomer topped the list (OK, you probably will). It’s worth noting that no other Big 12 freshman cracked Eisenberg’s rankings, but we like to think of that as a testament to just how good the freshman class is nationwide. Still, just because they didn’t make the list doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye on other young Big 12 rising talents like Joel EmbiidAllerik FreemanElijah Macon, Wayne Selden and Ishmail Wainwright. Still, Andrew Wiggins is the gem of the league’s incoming class and is just another reason why we can’t wait for the opening tip.
  3. It was announced late last week that two Big 12 teams, Kansas and Kansas State, will hold open scrimmages for their fans. The Jayhawks will open the Allen Fieldhouse doors this Saturday, giving fans who were shut out of “Late Night In The Phog” earlier this month a second chance to see the 2013-14 squad. Kansas State, which didn’t hold a late night event of its own, will also host an open scrimmage on Saturday. The Wildcats aren’t quite looking at a full-on rebuild, but losing Angel Rodriguez, Jordan Henriquez and Rodney McGruder will hurt the defending co-Big 12 champions. Still, with the official start of practice coming earlier this season, the wait until the first regular season games lengthens so public practices are a great opportunity for teams to inject some extra anticipation into their devoted fan bases.
  4. If all goes according to plan this season for Marcus Smart, Markel Brown and Travis Ford (and even if it doesn’t), Oklahoma State will need to rebuild in a hurry to stay in the conversation atop the Big 12 moving forward. The Cowboys took one step toward that goal on Saturday when they received a verbal commitment from recruit Mitch Solomon, a 6’9″ power forward who is considered the best 2014 prospect in Oklahoma. Solomon, along with shooting guard commitment Jared Terrell, gives the Cowboys a very solid foundation from which to reload. In 2014, we’d expect Le’Bryan Nash, Michael Cobbins and Phil Forte to be the leaders, allowing the incoming freshmen to be eased into supporting roles and gradually move up from there.
  5. Late last week, UNLV announced that it will partner with Kansas for a home-and-home series beginning in Lawrence in the 2014-15 season, with a return trip to Las Vegas planned for the 2016-17 campaign. Neither Dave Rice nor Bill Self have ever been shy about assembling tough non-conference schedules, so while we aren’t too surprised at this development, we’re nevertheless thrilled to pencil in a pair of must-watch games for the future. The Runnin’ Rebels have more to gain from ambitious scheduling than the Jayhawks due to the difference in competition their respective leagues provide, although Kansas will benefit as well. It’s also worth noting that a trip to Las Vegas gives the Jayhawk coaching staff a convenient opportunity to check out some of the recruits at nearby Findlay Prep, which churns out blue-chip prospects on an annual basis. We’re still waiting on the announcement of that annual Kansas-Missouri series, by the way…
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2013-14 RTC Class Schedule: Kansas Jayhawks

Posted by BHayes on September 16th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler. Periodically throughout the preseason, RTC will take an in-depth look at the schedules of some of the more prominent teams in college basketball.

We have seen rapid and successful overhauls in Lawrence before, but perhaps never on this scale. Kansas is short five starters from a year ago, and in their wake arrives a decorated freshman class headed by a once-in-a-generation talent. Commitments from top-50 recruits Joel Embiid, Wayne Selden, and Conner Francamp had Jayhawk fans believing a quick rebuild was possible, but it was the May signing of Andrew Wiggins, the top player in the high school class of 2013, that has turned hope into belief. Another Big 12 championship and a return to the Sweet 16 would no longer constitute a brilliant coaching job by Bill Self, a man who has crafted many of them. Wiggins’ presence on campus has not only turned those achievements into mere expectations, but also transports hope to Lawrence that the ultimate prize – a National Title – is again a realistic possibility.

Could Perry Ellis Emerge As The Most Important Jayhawk Not Named Andrew Wiggins This Season?

Could Perry Ellis Emerge As The Most Valuable Jayhawk Not Named Andrew Wiggins This Season?

  • Team Outlook: Wiggins’ talent and projected impact has been well-documented, but even if he becomes the star he is expected to be, the Jayhawks will still need to develop the supporting cast around him. Perry Ellis (5.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG) is the one returnee that will almost definitely be a key part of that equation, but Nadiir Tharpe (5.5 PPG, 3.1 APG) and Jamari Traylor (2.1 PPG, 2.1 RPG) should also see minutes. We have seen Jayhawk role players emerge into key contributors after an offseason before, but no matter what happens with that trio, Bill Self will surely be relying on newcomers not named Wiggins to carry the load. Prime among them are freshmen Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid, who are expected to take over starting duties at shooting guard and center, respectively. Like Wiggins, both are projected as top-ten picks in next year’s NBA draft, so it’s a distinct possibility that this could be their lone rodeo in Lawrence. That being said, both need to add significant polish to their games, and despite the top-ten ranking recruiting gurus bestowed upon him, Embiid even drags the “project” title with him to Kansas. Freshmen guards Conner Frankamp and Brannen Greene are also consensus Top-100 recruits, and both will have the opportunity to compete with Tharpe and Selden for minutes in the Kansas backcourt. Rounding out the frontcourt rotation is Memphis transfer Tarik Black (8.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG) and redshirt freshman Landen Lucas. Black’s addition was another significant coup for Self this offseason, as he provides the Jayhawks with a player who has actually been through it all before at the college level. Black, like nearly every Jayhawk outside of Wiggins, could end up as a thirty-minute a game starter, a marginalized bit player, or nearly anything in between. There is tons of talent in Lawrence and a superstar to headline the show, but much of the onus for the destination of this Jayhawk campaign rests on Bill Self and how he fits all the pieces together – something Jayhawk fans should feel pretty good about. Read the rest of this entry »
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