Shots, shots, shots…EVERYBODY!!! One of the few knocks I have read over the years about the Bill Self Era in Kansas is his inability to develop NBA contributing wing players. That may have been the case during the early years in Lawrence. However, lately that critique has lost some credence. Let’s take a look at the wings that HCBS has recruited since he arrived at Kansas. All Roy Williams holdovers are excluded.
-Seven McDonald’s All Americans: JR Giddens, Julian Wright, Micah Downs, Xavier Henry, Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden Jr., and Kelly Oubre Jr.
-Nine Five-Stars: JR Giddens, Julian Wright, Brandon Rush, Xavier Henry, Elijah Johnson, Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden Jr., Kelly Oubre Jr., and, for the sake of spelling, Svi.
-Eight Four-Stars: Alex Galindo, Micah Downs, Mario Little, Travis Releford, Ben McLemore, Andrew White, Anrio Adams, and Brannen Greene.
-Four Three-Stars: Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed, Royce Woolridge, and Melvyn Lindsay.
-Two N/A Recruits: Conner Teahan and Chase Buford.
From 2003-2009, Self lured three five-star recruits to play in Allen. Since 2009, he has six five-star wings. The notion of KU not being a place for these elite wings to showcase their ability is fading. It is no longer just a big man university, even though it’s still centered around a high-low mentality. There are a lot more ball screens and NBA-type aspects.
Here is my list of the best wings that played at Kansas during the Self Era:
1. Andrew Wiggins- It may have been one year, but was it a special one. Whether it was a block, a step back jumper over Jabari Parker, or a gravity defying dunk, we knew it would be short-lived in college. He had the tools to be an all-star at the next level, and we can see that he is closing that gap these days. Wigs was truly a once in a decade physical talent and the best Self has had at Kansas.
2. Ben McLemore- Ahh…. To imagine what would have been had Ben been able to join the Tyshawn Taylor and T-Rob led Jayhawks that lost to Kentucky in the National Championship. His lone year at Kansas was also a special one, averaging 16points, 5 rebounds,and 2 assists a game.
3. Brandon Rush- He put up similar numbers to Xavier Henry while at KU but was also an integral part of a National Championship team. He was a steady shooter and solid all-around player.
4. Xavier Henry- I might be in the minority, but I think his one year at Kansas wasn't a bust. We just might have lofted too much expectation on him.
5. Travis Releford- Yes, I do think the appropriate term is a man crush, or even a bromance. Yes, I know most people would have had Julian Wright or maybe even Elijah Johnson in the top five before Travis. However, I can't think of a better glue guy for Bill Self. He didn't do anything great, but he did do everything solid. It really is a fantastic and under appreciated feeling, as a fan, to have a player out on the court that you do not have to worry about making a stupid or ridiculous decision. When HCBS said he was confident Travis would hit 1k points, most people thought Coach actually had something else in his water. It’s a shame he ended only 35 points short.
What I can see from this is that Self is getting more elite wings to come to Kansas yearly. He went from getting the occasional five-star SG or SF to now getting at least one or two a year. Currently, the Jayhawks have three five-star wings (Selden, Oubre, and Svi). Oubre won’t be at Kansas long enough to challenge the ranking. However, he should have a successful NBA career. Let’s hope this path continues with all of the wings currently in high school uncommitted. I see you Jaylen Brown, Malik Newman, and Brandon Ingram. You could be next.
All rankings based on rivals.com