A few quick-hitters on what Andrew Wiggins' signing with Kansas means for Kentucky and the 2013-14 college basketball season:
History Still Made: Somehow, amazingly, UK lost a recruiting battle for the nation's No. 1 overall prospect and still has the best signing class in the history of college basketball. Wrap your mind around that for a second. The Wildcats did so by landing the top prospect at four out of five positions on the floor, including twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison at point guard and shooting guard, Julius Randle at power forward and Dakari Johnson at center. The class is so deep, it has the No. 3 small forward, James Young, and the No. 2 center, Marcus Lee, lined up behind the first group. Either one of those players would have been the crown jewel of almost every other program in the country. It's an amazing class that John Calipari has assembled. The addition of Wiggins would have made it preposterous. No program, even one led by Calipari, will likely ever come this close again to landing the top prospect at every position.
Meet Mr. Young: So much attention has been directed toward Wiggins that many fans and media alike have almost forgotten how good Young is. The five-star Michigan wing averaged almost 30 points as a senior and was as good a scorer as we saw on the AAU circuit in 2012. He played on a team that had no other elite prospects and was the focus of every opponent's defensive game plan, but could not be stopped. The 6-6 southpaw can score off the bounce or stroke the deep 3, and with his length, has the potential to be one of UK's best perimeter defenders next season. Interestingly, he was one of the more vocal lobbyists for Wiggins joining the party at UK. I think that aspect of his character has been widely overlooked. It tells me he's a team player who wants to win above everything else. Young, along with Alex Poythress, will be the biggest beneficiaries of Wiggins deciding to suit up for the Jayhawks. Look for them to split the majority of the minutes at the 3 with Poythress bouncing between 3 and 4 depending on the other personnel in the game at the time. One thing is for certain: after being caught short-handed during a disappointing 2012-13 season, Calipari has a seemingly endless number of options and lineup combinations to choose from next season. The bench will be a great motivator.
UK-KU II? Kentucky defeated Kansas at the Superdome in New Orleans en route to its eighth national championship to cap the 2012 season. Could Wiggins' decision set the tone for a potential rematch at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas next spring? Many national pundits believe that could be the case today. The Jayhawks have signed a class that, if not for UK's haul, would be considered untouchable. In addition to Wiggins, it also features five-star combo guard and one-time UK target Wayne Selden, four-star wing Brannen Greene, four-star point guard Conner Frankamp and four-star center Joel Embiid. Kansas loses a lot in Ben McLemore, Jeff Withey and Trevor Relaford, but will be in a position to reload if Bill Self can borrow some of Coach Cal's magic and get several freshmen to gel as a championship contender. Look for UK, KU, Louisville and Michigan State to head most preseason Top 10 lists.
‘One-and-Done' Narrative Change? Calipari has always been the whipping boy of choice for critics of the "one-and-done" player, but now we're starting to see more of those guys filter down to other schools. In this year's class, the two highest-profile candidates to go directly to the NBA are Wiggins and Duke-bound Jabari Parker. Something tells me you won't hear nearly as much criticism if and when those two guys are called first in the 2014 draft. On a related note, the biggest winner in all of this may have been the Champions Classic. This year's event in Chicago will feature UK's No. 1 class going up against Tom Izzo's national title contender at Michigan State in one game and Wiggins versus Parker in the other game pitting Kansas and Duke. According to NBADraft.net, seven of the top 10 players on its current 2014 mock draft board are Wiggins, Randle, Parker, Andrew Harrison, Willie Cauley-Stein, Young and Selden.
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