There’s no room for divas in Lawrence

WigginsDecisionI had a really great day on Tuesday. Andrew Wiggins, the top basketball prospect in the nation, declared he was headed to Kansas. Maybe you heard. People were talking about it.

Kansas fans are used to missing out on top recruits. We hate televised announcements. We never win hat ceremonies. Four of the top 10 recruits (and five of the top 11) have committed to Kentucky. The other schools with top-10 recruits: Arizona, Duke, Indiana, and Florida (with two).

None of these schools happened to have invented college basketball, but they’re all storied programs and perennial contenders. The best recruits — the ones with serious NBA ambitions — pick schools like Kentucky because the national exposure can’t be beat.

Or they pick a dark horse — like, say, the No. 18 prospect Keith Frazier committing to SMU — so they can outshine their significantly less talented teammates. (The fact that Kansas great Larry Brown coaches the Mustangs probably didn’t hurt.)

Kansas, of course, is never a dark horse. It’s a blue-blood program with plenty of national exposure, despite the East Coast bias in television, which is totally real but perhaps exaggerated on occasion by characteristically defensive Kansas fans.

The difference is that Kansas never has just one star. There is no John Wall, no Anthony Davis. Bill Self has been criticized for his spotty track record with one-and-done players. Josh Selby? Eh. Xavier Henry? Hm.

After Julius Randle and the Harris twins committed to Kentucky, negative chatter renewed about Self’s ability to recruit elite players.

We keep forgetting this one guideline for a happy life: Never doubt Bill Self. (I’ve said it before, you know.)

It reminds me of a popular Bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11-12…

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.

Plans indeed. Here’s what Self brought us on Tuesday:

Bill Self, that crazy, beautiful man, brought us the best recruit in the country. He also brought us the right recruit for our program, and that means even more.

Julius Randle — and pretty much every other elite recruit — announced his decision like this:

Wiggins announced his decision with only one media dude in the room, leaving Huntington Herald-Dispatch sports writer Grant Traylor to inform the rest of the world via Twitter.

Wiggins doesn’t feel the need to call to attention to himself. That’s perfect, because everyone at Kansas is good. Maple Jordan may be the best guy on the team, but he won’t be the only guy.

The Jayhawks are losing Jeff Withey, Travis Releford, Elijah Johnson, Kevin Young and Ben McLemore (and Rio Adams). Ouch. But the likely starters for 2013-2014 are Naadir Tharpe (5.5 points, 1.5 rebounds per game), Perry Ellis (5.8, 3.9), Jamari Traylor (2.1, 2.1) and another freshman, Wayne Seldon. That lineup could change if Memphis transfer Tarik Black comes to Kansas. He visited Duke on Monday and was in Lawrence on Tuesday.

Lawrence is a place where even Ben McLemore wasn’t a one-man show. Bill Self is a coach that would redshirt a healthy sophomore Travis Releford because he had bigger plans for him down the line. Kansas is a program where players like Releford and Elijah Johnson opt to stick around instead of transferring for more playing time.

Kansas basketball has no room for divas. Andrew Wiggins will surely be a star for the Jayhawks, but he won’t be a spectacle. And that’s exactly what we need for a 10th straight Big 12 title.

Further reading

From the Kansas City Star’s Sam Mellinger: Bill Self gets exactly what he needed in Andrew Wiggins …From Rush the Court’s Chris Johnson: What a post Wiggins-decision basketball world should look like … Oh, and Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix has ya boy Ben McLemore going second in the NBA draft. …. From Buzzfeed (yeah, I know): 21 reasons everyone is talking about Andrew Wiggins (with gifs on gifs on gifts).

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