Game Changer

If it all goes well, Kansas fans can look back on this year as the year that changed everything, but it truth, it started with what happened this past season.

If it all goes well, Kansas fans can look back on this year as the year that changed everything, but it truth, it started with what happened this past season.

The Jayhawks landing of top recruit Andrew Wiggins in mid May will have a lasting impact on Kansas basketball and head coach Bill Self's job of selling recruits on the program. Wiggins is a prep talent so coveted, that he would have been the number one pick in this year's NBA Draft, of high school kids were still able to jump straight to the league.

Yes, the Jayhawks have always been able to attract big time talent and the proof lies in the numbers.

Nine consecutive Big 12 championships, 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, including several deep runs and of course, a National Championship in 2008.

But, if there was any knock that recruiting fanatics could make, it would be the inability to always attract the one and done type players, that in the past, had usually chose another school rather than the Jayhawks, although, with each time, KU would come very close to landing a prospect.

Of course, there have been exceptions such as Xavier Henry and Josh Selby, but none had the impact that Ben McLemore had on Kansas in 2012-13.

McLemore was spectacular and was a must see player throughout the season, as the Jayhawks advanced to the Sweet 16 and if not for a collapse against Michigan, his season would have continued further, perhaps landing him on college basketball grandest stage.

Still, when all was set and done, he could be headed for the top overall pick in June's NBA Draft and with that starts the change.

Bill Self is one of the if not the best coach in college basketball. He is also one of its best recruiters. His charm and laidback persona is always hit with fans, friends and media members alike. It's also a hit with recruits and their families.

Together with his staff, they yearly stake out the top recruits in the nation and target them and potential Jayhawks. The combination of Self, the staff, Kansas tradition and perch atop the college basketball world, as one of its blue bloods can make it a daunting and extremely difficult task to take on. It makes KU an almost unbeatable foe.

To defeat them in recruiting, it takes a school of similar pedigree, in all facets, as well as great coaching. It also takes little things to use against them.

For some in the past, two items that could be used against Kansas were the team's style, which supposedly catered to big men, as evident by the number of bigs Self's teams have put into the NBA. In the past, an opponent could also point to the lack of consistent success with a one and done.

Of course, all of that means close to nothing when you look at the body of work. Some programs would lie, cheat and steal and sell their soul to have the kind of success Kansas has had, especially under Self.

But, with McLemore, we may have seen the turning point of Kansas' program under Self and it may be turning for the…better and more powerful.

The very thought of a stronger Kansas program has to be a rival's worst nightmare. If they thought the Jayhawks a bear to deal with already, the stakes may have just gone up.

McLemore's success within Self's offense, destroyed the notion that wing players weren't as key of a cog to KU's success. In fact, it proved just the opposite.

Oh, big men are still essential to success of the offense, but when all the pistons start working together and firing, Kansas can start to do more of the things that they'd ideally like to do. In essence, they become like a well firing NBA machine. As a defense, you are forced to pick your poison on what to take away, to which only elite teams will be able to counter when everything goes like it should.

In 2013-14, Kansas will add an incredible recruiting class. It will be Self's greatest atop Mount Oread.

In addition to Wiggins, a player that has drawn comparisons to "fairly decent" talents in LeBron James, Kevin Durant and even Dominique Wilkins, Kansas will add high flying wings Brannen Greene and Wayne Selden. They will also add sharpshooter Connor Frankamp, a player that is in range as soon as he crosses halfcourt. Getting everyone the ball will be point guard Frank Mason, who the staff loves. And if that's not enough, the Jayhawks will welcome center Joel Embiid, a seven footer, whose stock has risen dramatically and has even gained a few comparisons NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon. Then, for the exclamation point, Kansas finishes its recruiting class with Memphis transfer Tariq Black, a 6-9 bruiser of a power forward that will come in and contribute immediately.

All of that and the Jayhawks will have solid returning nucleus, including forwards Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor and Landen Lucas, as well as guards Naadir Tharpe and Andrew White III.

In 2013-14, it's clear Kansas is going all in in the pursuit of another National Championship.

If it all works together the way Self and his staff envisions it, it will create the perfect blend and harmony for Self and a blueprint for the future of Kansas basketball.

And while it all started with McLemore, it could be cemented home emphatically with Andrew Wiggins. A successful season, ultimate success in March and the top overall pick in next year's NBA Draft, could be just the last weapon Self needs to combats opponents.

If it all works, Self will be able to sell his program to any and everybody and Kansas will have the most of the so-called "street credibility' that some could say it has lacked.

The winners will be the fan of just basketball and especially Kansas basketball.

Success next season will allow Self to build his program in a way that would be the dream and envy of any coach.

Kansas will feature a team of extremely high caliber program guys, who on their own are good enough to compete for national titles, but in addition to the base, the staff can recruit the players at the top of the recruiting lists and interject them into the machine. Together, they will all mesh and create a harmony, as part of something that is far greater than themselves.

It's a dream scenario for Jayhawk fans and it's a nightmare for opponents, especially those in the Big 12, who must think that Kansas' perch at the top of the league standings will become pre-ordained every year before a single game is played.

Despite all of this, yes, it is late spring/early summer and games are won on the court, not on paper, but all Kansas and Bill Self has done, is use the program to create an opportunity for themselves and they will be in the best position to accomplish their goals going forward.

The successful recruitment of Wiggins is a game changer and a successful campaign in 2013-14 will lead to even greater victories in the years that follow, both on the recruiting trail and on the basketball floor.

This time in Kansas basketball history truly is Camelot and as long as Bill Self reigns atop the Kansas basketball empire, fans will be able to rejoice, while taking time to realize that they are in fact, currently living in the good old days and if all works out, there's sure to be many, many more to come.


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