2013-14 College Basketball Season Preview: Kansas

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Kansas Jayhawks (Last Year: 29-5, 14-4 in Big XII)

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Tarik Black (Sr)/Joel Emblid (Fr)/Landen Lucas (Fr)

PF: Perry Ellis (Soph)/Jamari Taylor (Soph)/Justin Wesley (Sr)

SF: Andrew Wiggins (Fr)/Brannen Greene (Fr)

SG: Wayne Selden (Fr)/Andrew White (Soph)

PG: Naadir Thorpe (Jr)/Connor Frankamp (Fr)/Frank Mason (Fr)

Gone: SG-Ben McElmore, C-Jeff Withey, G-Elijah Johnson, SF-Travis Releford, PF-Kevin Young, SG-Rio Adams (transfer-Ohio)

2013-14 Outlook:
Entering this season, Andrew Wiggins is easily the biggest attraction in college basketball … and for good reason. He is an outstanding all-around player who can affect the game in numerous ways. There are still some areas of his game that need to be tightened up, most notably his outside shooting, but he will be one of the best and most exciting players in the nation and the likely No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Wiggins headlines a deep recruiting class with a pair of other top-20 recruits. McDonald’s All-American Wayne Selden is a physical wing and will start at the two guard. Had it not been for Wiggins’ late commitment to Kansas, Selden would have been the main focus of the Jayhawks this season. He will be a terrific second banana to Wiggins and should have a Ben McLemore-type impact this year.

There is quality depth behind Wiggins and Selden led by Andrew White. Although White played sparingly as a freshman, his ability to shoot the rock is needed off the bench since that isn’t a strength of Wiggins or Selden. Brannen Greene was a top-50 recruit in the 2013 class and brings more shooting ability. He should find his way into the rotation as well.

The third top-20 recruit for Kansas is big man Joel Embiid, who rocketed up the rankings during his senior year, eventually making his way into the top 10. He certainly looks the part of being a potential dominant big man with his size, mobility, and athleticism, but is still a work in progress on the low block. With how quickly he has developed during the past year, the sky is the limit for the Cameroon native; he could be a one-and-done since NBA teams will be drooling over his potential.

You know what’s scary about this Kansas team though … Embiid won’t even be a starter. Self is expected to use Memphis transfer Tarik Black and Perry Ellis in his starting lineup. Black becomes immediately eligible for the Jayhawks and brings experience and toughness to the floor. Ellis is a former McDonald’s All-American who had his share of ups and downs as a freshman, but showed flashes and should make a signficant jump with his game. Jamari Taylor adds more toughness inside, while Justin Wesley and redshirt freshman Landen Lucas aren’t expected to see much time, but provide Self with terrific depth up front.

The biggest question mark for this Kansas team is how Naadir Tharpe handles the starting point guard role. He was a key reserve a year ago and appears ready to take over that spot, but let’s be honest, he won’t have to do much with all the talent around him and simply needs to be a game-manager and knock down some open threes.

The fifth top-50 recruit in Self’s 2013 class is Connor Frankamp. At 6-0, Frankamp is a combo guard who can run the point or play off the ball due to his ability to stroke it from deep. He and Frank Mason will battle for minutes behind Tharpe with Mason being more of a true distributing point guard.

Self also picked up a transfer in Arkansas big man Hunter Mickelson. He must sit out this season, but will help fill the void in the middle in 2014-15 since Black is a senior and Embiid could very well be headed to the NBA.

Right now, the Kansas Jayhawks are NOT one of the best teams in the country, but they, without question, have the talent to be in that category by the end of the season. With seven new players on the roster, there will be a feeling out process, and an absolutely brutal non-conference slate featuring eight games versus teams that made the NCAA Tournament last year will put Kansas to the test early on. Never count out a Bill Self-coached team and with the amount of talent on this roster, the Jayhawks will be a dangerous, dangerous team come March.

Player to Watch: Andrew Wiggins, SF
With all the hype surrounding Wiggins and the national spotlight that will shine on him all year long, how he handles that pressure is vital to the team’s success and his individual performance. By no means will Wiggins need to do everything on his own, which should take some of the pressure off him, but think back to a couple of years ago when Harrison Barnes was expected to be the best thing since sliced bread. Barnes struggled a bit to start the year and received a ton of scrutiny because of it. Just some food for thought ….

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/12 vs. Duke (Champions Classic in Chicago)
  • 11/19 vs. Iona
  • 11/28 vs. Wake Forest (Battle 4 Atlantis)
  • 11/29 vs. Villanova/USC (Battle 4 Atlantis)
  • 11/30 vs. Tennessee/UTEP/Iowa/Xavier (Battle 4 Atlantis)
  • 12/7 at Colorado
  • 12/10 at Florida
  • 12/14 vs. New Mexico (in Kansas City)
  • 12/21 vs. Georgetown
  • 1/5 vs. San Diego State

  • Predicted Big XII Finish: 1st

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