When Kansas head coach Bill Self landed the nation's top basketball recruit in Andrew Wiggins, it sent waves throughout college basketball and it may serve as a game changer for the program under Self.
Just when you think things couldn't get any better, they have and it could only be the beginning, as Wiggins was the cherry on top of a sundae of a recruiting class. The coup could set the wheels in motion for unprecedented success on the court and on the recruiting trail.
"Getting Andrew is something that made people, maybe even nationally, look at us in a different light. We've recruited a lot of good players but we haven't really had a ton of success recruiting the top three or four players in their respective classes in the country. He obviously has that distinction. I think from a standpoint of other recruits it brings instant attention to our program. But after he gets here none of that matters anymore. He's very talented and has a ton of potential, but he's just a freshman. He's going to find his way like everyone else. The expectation that have been put on him by outside factors or media members comparing him to this person or that person are really not fair at all. He has a chance to become a great player. I would not say he's a great player yet but is a great prospect. And hopefully he will develop in a way where he can become a great player quickly," Self said.
Make no mistake, Wiggins is alone. The Jayhawks also welcome a ridiculously talented group of freshmen, including wings Brannen Greene and Wayne Selden, guards Conner Frankamp and Frank Mason and center Joel Embiid.
The spotlight though, will be squarely on Wiggins, who's success within the Kansas program will and already is opening the door to recruits that in the past may have strongly considered Kansas, but may have opted to play elsewhere. In essence, now Bill Self can get anybody he wants, a fact that has to scare the crap out of his opponents. Wiggins' impacts could go well beyond the 2013-14 season.
"The more kids you sign that advance and go on to play the next level is the best for recruiting, but there is no question that kids want to go where other good players are playing. There are many other schools that can stake that claim but we are certainly one of them," Self said.
And it's starting to happen even before the ball is tipped on this season. Wiggins' likely replacement Kelly Oubre committed to Self and the Jayhawks in early October and what makes it more special is that Kansas beat out Kentucky once again for a recruit. In fact, after Oubre visited Lawrence and attended Late Night in the Phog, he canceled his visit to Kentucky and committed to the Jayhawks. His game is special and it's very likely we'll be having this same discussion around this time next year.
"What makes Oubre special is there is truly no place that he struggles, and unlike some kids who are capable of doing everything good but nothing great, Oubre is great at a lot of things. Not only is he an elite and versatile defender, but he has also developed himself into being an outstanding shooter from deep. Add in that he can score going to the rim, and also he is a solid rebounder, and it is easy to see why Oubre is such a sought after player," Scout.com's Brian Snow said.
Oubre's commitment could be just the start of a second consecutive jaw dropping recruiting class. 6-8 power forward Cliff Alexander from Chicago, could be next after a great visit the same weekend Oubre was in town. Alexander's ties with new Kansas assistant Jerrance Howard makes him a likely commit. It then, it gets better.
The nation's number one recruit Jahlli Okafor, as well as top five guard Tyus Jones have Kansas at the top of their list alongside Duke. The combo could be a packaged deal, so if Kansas lands one, they'll likely land the other. In the past, fans may have seen KU as a long shot, but after landing Wiggins and now Oubre, can you blame them if they have a little swagger and confidence in pulling this off?
To top things off, Kansas also appears to be the odds on favorite to land 6-11 forward Texas forward Myles Turner, who was the star of this past spring's Jayhawk Invitational. Turner is a big man with raw athleticism and a sweet touch from the field, as well as the ability to run the floor like a guard, dominate under the glass and block shots at an impressive clip.
All of this begins with this year's recruiting class. Many feel it's the best in program history, but before one puts the cart in front of the horse, Self brings you back down to earth, as well as pumps you up simultaneously, as only he can.
"Yeah this is the most talented class we have ever signed. You know Julian (Wright), Brandon (Rush), Mario (Chalmers) and Micah Downs (in 2005) that was pretty good. You got three McDonalds All-Americans plus Brandon who would have made it but he wasn't eligible for it. So I don't know if when you talk about four quality guys, we have any guys with more quality than that, but we do have more. When you talk about a class of eight there are eight pretty good players. So it's without a question the deepest class we've had. Of course it remains to be seen if it's the best one, but I certainly think it has potential to be the best."
Once the season begins, each game will be like watching Kansas' version of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who stormed on to win an NBA record 72 games and a title. Not saying the dynamics are the same, but as far as talent and anticipation, it will be a special year.
On top of that, Self has built a culture at Kansas that not every great program enjoys. Despite its tremendous success, it all still center around a humble feeling of family and togetherness and it's typically what acts as one of the closers to a recruit.
"Everything (brought me here). The whole aspect, the coaching staff, the tradition and the fans are incredible. It wasn't just Late Night itself, but it was the family-like environment that I stepped into when I came here on my visit," Selden said.
Then, there's Bill Self. Self is the man, who is essentially THE closer. He's the guy who comes out of the bullpen to throw 103 mph heat and lock up a recruit, but always humble and quick to be the most downhome and genuine person, he's the man who always relates to the kids he coaches.
"It's been great. Coach Self, he's a player's coach. All the players love him, he's been teaching me a lot since I've been here, on and off the court. It's just been a joy playing for him so far," Wiggins said.
It's a quality that has always made Self tough to beat in recruiting, but with this class and the possibilities of a similar to almost identical class next, together with the possibility of winning multiple National Championships in the next several years and it's no wonder why Kansas fans feel like they need to be pinch to make sure they're aren't dreaming.
If the Jayhawks can piece together this class, following another National Championship this spring, can you blame their fans if they get a little cocky? For years, it seemed as if while they got great recruits, the headliners would choose other schools. Well, not anymore. For, Andrew Wiggins has changed the game and Kansas fans may truly be living in basketball Camelot.