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RCT Mailbag Summer Extravaganza

The mailbag is back! With the summer winding down and football season starting we answer some questions surrounding the program.


Let's skip the intro, since it's been awhile, and jump right in:

Q: @commercialeer: What impact will Wiggins have on recruiting? Best case and worst case.

I think the best case scenario is that Wiggins comes in and is an All-American (I don't think he'll win player of the year because Bill Self isn't going to just let him go out and shoot 20 times per game) and Kansas makes a deep run in the tournament. The increased spotlight around him will show other recruits that Kansas can allow one and dones to shine while winning a lot of games. Self has never been the type of coach to showcase an individual over the team (which I like) but if Wiggins puts up good numbers, is the #1 pick, and Kansas goes deep in the tournament I think even more highly regarded recruits will look at Kansas as a way to improve their draft stock and win a lot of games while they wait.

Worst case I suppose is the flip side: WIggins shoots about 40% from the floor, Kansas loses in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and as a result his draft stock plummets (of course, if recent precedent is any indication, that won't hurt his stock at all), or while on his way to being the #1 pick and winning rookie of the year he makes even the slightest mention of KU not being awesome and no recruits ever look at Kansas again.

Q: @RockChalkChief: if you could guarantee the #1 recruit in the nation for the next 8 years by black magic sacrificing Bill Self, would you?

Absolutely not. Wiggins hysteria (and hell, Embiid and Selden too while we're at it) is amazingly fun, and next year is going to be great to watch. That being said, Bill Self is the best coach in the country and he's taken a bunch of teams without the #1 recruit to a bunch of conference titles, so I wouldn't trade him for any other single person in the country.

Q from Andrew: If college basketball trades were a thing, whom would you trade for and whom would you trade?

I love Naadir Tharpe, and I think one of Mason or Frankamp (or heck even Selden) will solidify the backup point guard spot. But at this point I think point guard is the spot you'd have to trade for.

Who that is is a different question. Aaron Craft will probably be the first team All American point guard but while he's a very good defender, his offense leaves a lot to be desired. Kevin Pangos is a great shooter, but doesn't have a very good assist/turnover ratio and I am a bit concerned how he'd adjust to the Big 12. I think the winner of the PG sweepstakes would be Duke's Quinn Cook. He had a 29% assist rate and 18% turnover rate last year and shot around 40% from three.

Another option for me is Doug McDermott. He doesn't defend well but he can score inside, shot 49% from three, and shot 88% from the line will drawing over 6 fouls per 40 minutes. He won't need to defend because of how good (I think) Ellis, Embiid and Black will be in there, and he's probably the best offensive player in college basketball.

Q: from Mike: If you could get one recruit from next year's class, who would it be?

For reference, here is your 2014 top 150, with Kansas being in the hunt for a lot of the top guys

For me, it's Tyus Jones. Okafor is the top ranked guy, and probably should be by a wide margin, but basically everything points to him going where Jones wants to go. Duke is the front runner right now, but obviously with a strong 2013-14 season Kansas could end up with both of those guys, and Kansas could back up potentially the best recruiting class of the Self era with, well, potentially the best recruiting class of the Self era.

The other guy who I would pick, not having seen him play, is 4th ranked Cliff Alexander. People I read and follow on twitter who follow recruiting much more closely than I do rave about Alexander, and I think I have seen more positive mentions of him than any other 2014 recruit.

Q from Jeff: Who had the best career at KU under Self?

In the interest of brevity, I'll quickly narrow it down to a top 3 without any preliminary analysis:

Mario Chalmers

Brandon Rush

Cole Aldrich

Each of the three stayed three years in Lawrence, and each of the three was well above average on both sides of the ball. From there it becomes which skill sets you favor and whether you're a fan of peak or steady consistency. The candidates:

Don't get me wrong, Brandon Rush was an excellent excellent player. Coming into Lawrence he had the reputation of being a pretty selfish kid, but Bill Self made him ride the bike as punishment because he passed up so many shots to get his teammates involved. But he was the "worst" of the three guys here. Part of that is his position. Great wing defense is very nice (as evidenced by Travis Releford the last couple years) but it's not as impactful as interior defense or defending a point guard. Rush was a better outside shooter than Chalmers, shooting 43.5% to Chalmers's 41.8% from three, but Chalmers was a lot better from two, drew more fouls, and the rebounding gap isn't as wide as you'd believe (Chalmers was around 10% his Sophomore and Junior season, Rush was around 13% for his career).

If not for the fact that there were three excellent big men in front of him his Freshman year, Cole Aldrich would be the winner for me. He carried the KU offense his Sophomore year, taking around 23% of the available shots and making around 60% of them. He was 7th in the country in defensive rebounding that year and 23rd in blocked shots. As a Junior he was 5th in blocked shots, the 13th best offensive rebounder in the country, and made 56% of his twos. Not bad for what some people deemed a down year. He wasn't the best interior defender in the country like Withey was, but he was close, and he wasn't the best go to offensive player down low, but he was close, and combined he was probably the best big man in the country.

The case for Chalmers is a pretty easy one to make. He was 7th in the Big 12 in eFG as a Freshman and led the country in steal percentage as a Freshman. He never shot under 37.5% from three and 50% from two in his career, and as a Junior he was maybe the best player in the country. He was 27th in the nation in offensive rating and was probably the best perimeter defender in the country as well. His Junior year was the only year he had good assist/turnover numbers, the lone blight on a great career. Because he had an extra year of great play, he gets the nod over Aldrich in my book.

Q: from Chris: How many games does the football team win this year?

Well I have a bet with my girlfriend that they win at least four, so they had better win at least four. I think they'll win the first three handily, last year's Rice game be damned, and at that point it becomes winning a conference game. WIth all of the talent in the backfield, and the addition of Jake Heaps, I can't see them not winning a Big 12 game, and I think they'll actually win a couple. I am an eternal optimist, and even though the Big 12 is one of the best and deepest conferences in the country, I think Kansas wins 4 or 5 games this year. Book it.