The tale of the 2013-14 Kansas Jayhawk will be one of highlights and flashes of dominance, an unprecedented achievement and in the end, ultimate disappointment. At 24-10, they suffered the program's first double-digit loss season in 14 years, but secured an incredible 10th consecutive Big 12 regular season championship.
Unfortunately, the season came to another painfully early end with a 60-57 loss to double digit loss Stanford and the manner in which they were beaten will be one that will linger with crimson and blue faithful everywhere.
That being said, only one teams gets to claim college basketball's ultimate prize and for all else, it's back to the drawing board in hopes that their one shining moment will be realized a year from now. For some schools, it's only a dream that remains there, but at Kansas, fans can find solace in that every year, they'll likely be in a prime position to accomplish ultimate victory. So, the question is always simple. What's next?
What we do know is that Andrew Wiggins played his final game as a Jayhawk on Sunday afternoon. After scoring just four points in the loss to Stanford, he will be soaring above the rim in the NBA come next fall. The biggest question will be what will Joel Embiid do?
Before the season, this was never a question, but after breaking out at times as just a freshman, Embiid became such a big part of the Kansas equation that his loss to a stress fracture in his back became a critical blow to the team's chances.
What stings worse is that with a win over Stanford, Embiid would have returned for this week's South Regional, but now only unanswered question will be all that remains of an ultimately unfulfilled season.
Moving on to next season, the Jayhawks will be blessed with incredible talent, whether Embiid returns or doesn't. Perry Eliis will be a junior and will automatically be one of the Big 12 best and most well rounded players. Wayne Selden will likely be back and could turn into a force. Bill Self paid Brannen Greene an ultimate compliment by saying he will be a big NBA talent one day. Conner Frankamp will be ready to go after nearly achieving hero status this past weekend. Frank Mason will only get better heading into his sophomore campaign. Naadir Tharpe will be a senior and have a chance to leave a lasting legacy at Kansas.
Elsewhere, Jamari Traylor will look to build off last Friday's 17 point, 14 rebounding performance. Landen Lucas will be more experience and season. Andrew White III will look to become a key cog in the Jayhawks system. Arkansas transfer Hunter Mickelson will be eligible and ready to contribute and Evan Manning, Christian Garrett and Tyler Self will all be back.
On the recruiting trail, Bill Self has already hit two big home runs with swingman Kelly Oubre, who essentially replaces Wiggins and big man Cliff Alexander, who together with Embiid could make up college basketball's most dominant frontline. Then, there is the possibility of super talent Myles Turner of Texas, who could send this recruiting class through the stratosphere, should he choose Kansas.
In all, next year's team will be fun and potentially even much better than the pretty solid team that took the floor this season. With home games against UNLV and potentially Florida, as well as roadies to Temple and Georgetown, the season will be fun and when conference play begins early in 2015, attention will turn to whether or not the Jayhawks can capture a remarkable 11 consecutive Big 12 regular season championship.
At Kansas, it's clear that while the faces may change, the mission will always remain the same and a year from now, fans will hope that the run leads them all the way to the Final Four, which will take place in Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium.