How many Jayhawks will declare?

By Steve Sell
March 25, 2014

Will they go or will they stay?

It’s a question that at least three Kansas Jayhawks will have to answer in the coming days.

Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Wayne Selden were part of the most trumpeted basketball recruiting class in Jayhawk history.

When they signed, expectations for the Jayhawks were immediately wildly exaggerated, especially by those of us in the media. The common fan expected the trio to duplicate or closely approach their high school careers when they were among the top seniors in the country.

Wiggins, of course, came in the most hyped. The so-called “experts” were immediately, and unfairly, comparing him to LeBron James and most were expecting him to walk on water the moment he set foot in Allen Field House.

Wiggins himself said he was only going to be at Kansas for one year. You just have to wonder if that played a role in his good, but not great, season as he had one eye on his team and the other on the NBA. While he did make first-team Big 12 (isn’t that what you would expect from the next LeBron?), it was obvious he had many more holes in his game than ever expected. Had he been allowed to go to the NBA right out of high school, he would have been crushed like a grape and his progress retarded.

Wiggins is a physical freak. At 6-8, he can run like a deer and jump over buildings. But like Charles Barkley said, why jump over buildings when you can open the door and just walk through?

Wiggins will be gone, he’s the surest bet to leave. But when he gets to the NBA, his inability to shoot the 3-pointer and somewhat suspect footwork (which resulted in countless traveling calls) will be exposed. In time, he’ll be a great NBA player because of the style of play. But in college, he became frustrated when he couldn’t out-athlete his opponent as he so easily did in high school. When things didn’t go his way, such as Sunday, his body language became terrible and he collapsed under the pressure. He seems to be a soft-spoken kid and one who really doesn’t want the spotlight, only the riches that come with it.

Embiid is another story. Until he suffered a stress fracture in his back, which shut him down for the key part of the season, he was the consensus No. 1 pick. He had rocketed past Wiggins in the eyes of a lot of scouts since there’s such a dearth of big men in the NBA. When healthy, he was a defensive menace and an improving offensive factor. But, like Wiggins, he sometimes struggled with his footwork, a product of not having filled out physically.

Embiid, in the end, will go. But whomever drafts him will realize he’s probably not going to be much of a factor his first year, maybe his first two. He has so much more strength to gain and things to learn since he’s been playing the game such a short time. Another year of college certainly wouldn’t hurt him, but it’s hard to pass up instant gratification.

That Selden is being mentioned in the NBA talk blows my mind. All he has going for him is that he’s 6-5 and 230 pounds and can play guard. But anybody who watched him knows he’s light-years from being ready for the The Show. He has a flat shot and isn’t a great ballhandler. He’s a good defender, but really doesn’t have great foot speed. As I mentioned in an earlier post, if his family and handlers tell him to declare, they’re going to ruin the kid. He’ll be a Developmental League lifer. And given his woeful disappearing act in the NCAA Tournament, his chance for NBA big money would be better served coming back to improve his stock.

Even if Wiggins and Embiid take off as expected, the Jayhawks can plug in two more McDonald’s All-Americans, one of which could be another one-and-doner, which means we’ll have this same conversation again next year.