Feeling At Home

Kansas basketball never gets enough credit for its family atmosphere that head coach Bill Self has established in his 10 years as its leader.

Kansas basketball never gets enough credit for its family atmosphere that head coach Bill Self has established in his 10 years as its leader.

While the passion of its fans is well documented, the key cog in the machine is that it is a family. So, when the program landed the nation's top recruit in Andrew Wiggins, you could understand if some thought the rock star status of Wiggins could be counter intuitive to what the program is about and they would be wrong, very wrong.

In reality, it's very much the opposite. Yes, Wiggins is insanely talented. Yes, he carries rock star status in and around Lawrence and yes, he will be the number one pick in next year's NBA Draft.

But, to listen to him speak and watch how he carries himself, is to see a kid, again, a kid who is just having fun and is ever so grateful for the opportunity to play college basketball and to now be a member of that family, one where he sees himself as no different than the other kids, who have become his friends and who are dreaming of ascending to great heights to which fans can only dream of nine months before the answers to all questions will be answered.

One key to this mentality is the close knit nature in which Wiggins and his family operate. Family is important to them and him. Next school year, Andrew will benefit from the fact that his brother Nick, is playing down the road at Wichita State. Family is what it's all about.

"It's one of the reasons why I came here, to be near my brother." Wiggins said. "Me and my brother really close. Me and my family are really close."

The transition to college will be easier for Wiggins because of his mentality and maturity. For Kansas, what will be a special year, could be aided by the fact that the chemistry is being built in June, long before the season's first ball will be tipped inside Allen Fieldhouse.

"I'm glad he's here, just so we can have our entire compliment of players and they can start becoming a team," Self said.

The other element that make the machine move is the loyal Kansas fanbase, which made an immediate impression when Wiggins visited in KU's Senior Night win over Texas Tech, last March. The love affair between both them and Wiggins could be the dominant off-court storyline, as next season progress.

"Their fans are so loving to all of the players," Wiggins said. "I can tell that they're loyal fans, because after the game, their players were talking for 30 or 40 minutes and nobody left the building."

It's little wonder why this season could be among the most anticipated in Kansas basketball history, but in the end, it's just about a kid growing and a team growing together in hopes of a common goal. Everyone else will be lucky to sit back and enjoy.


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