Had the DeAndre Daniels recruitment occurred a year ago and ended the way it did yesterday things might have looked different. Had the mini-saga ended three months ago with a different result things might have looked different. Where exactly would they have looked different? I'm referring specifically to the reaction of the fanbase.
Recruiting is one of those things that is followed and analyzed by fanbases constantly. Who's the next superstar, the next player stepping in to save the day? That fever tends to lead to unrealistic ups when landing a coveted recruit as was the case with Josh Selby. And often times an even more tragic meltdown when losing out on a player.
The reaction to Daniels surprising yet entirely unsurprising announcement that he would be going to UConn really didn't seem to drum up those feelings. Despite the fact that Bill Self stepped in front of a mic and stated the Jayhawks needed a homerun and they don't necessarily appear to have hit one, the general perception among those that follow Kansas basketball is that all is well.
Would Daniels have been a nice addition? Maybe so, but then again maybe not. It seems the last two seasons have brought expectations in line a little more with the norm for Jayhawk fans. One and done's and top ten freshman don't necessarily save the day. They can and certainly they are a nice boost, but Bill Self has a system that has consistently won the Big 12 conference since his arrival and that system has featured players ranging from Xavier Henry and Josh Selby to Brady Morningstar, Christian Moody and Tyrel Reed.
On some level Tom Keegan nails it with his article today "No DeAndre Daniels, no sweat".
Anybody else welcome a breather from watching a hyped freshman fall far short of ridiculous expectations?
While I might not take it that far, there is some truth to the statement. I don't necessarily believe Henry or Selby or any other freshman should be blamed for falling short of expectations place on them by an unrealistic sporting fanbase. But at the same time college basketball fans rarely get to see what these players are truly capable of because they aren't around long enough to settle in.
It's also easy to forget what Kansas has on the roster today due to the fact that depth has hidden some player slightly further down in the rotation. Travis Releford was a four star shooting guard that Missouri fans still seem to pine over. Elijah Johnson finally seemed to step into his comfort zone late last year and was the only five star on the roster. Jeff Withey started his career at Arizona. And Kansas brings in two four star players in Naadir Tharpe and Ben McLemore that most teams in the Big 12 would love to have. Throw in the anointed leaders in Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor and it's a solid team without adding any other cooks to the kitchen.
With all that in mind I'll point to another quote from Keegan's article and one that I agree with almost wholeheartedly.
Self has no choice but to give significant minutes to juniors Travis Releford, Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey. Should I be embarrassed that I find weighing in on their progress far more fulfilling work than participating in the over-hyping of another one-and-done wonder?
If Bill Self can take this group and integrate his existing corps with these three players effectively and then sprinkle in some newcomers, Kansas basketball is going to be a fun thing to follow in 2011-2012. But then again, when hasn't it been over the last say 100 years or so.