EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Kansas University has generally not been a destination for one-and-done players, while Jayhawks head coach Bill Self has been regarded as a developer of talent over a long-term period of two, three and four years.
As the climate of college basketball has changed in recent years to embrace those one-and-done players, Self has adjusted.
This year alone, Jayhawks freshmen Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Wayne Selden, Jr. are all projected by DraftExpress to be chosen in the top 14 of the 2014 NBA Draft. Wiggins was the consensus No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2013 and has been the presumed No. 1 pick in 2014 for over a year. He is featured on the cover of the current SI.
“I like all three of them,” Nets point guard and former Kansas star point guard Tyshawn Taylor told SNY.tv at shootaround on Saturday morning. “I think they’re all one-and-done and I think they’re all gonna be really good pros,”
Self is even planning for the future, having received a verbal commitment from 6-foot-7 2014 wing Kelly Oubre on Thursday. The Findlay Prep star is expected to slide right into the role Wiggins will vacate after one year. Oubre himself is presumed to be one-and-done, projected right now as the No. 13 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.
The one-and-done culture is new at Kansas, but it’s also beginning to thrive, highlighted by Wiggins’ involvement. Taylor, a four-year player himself, can see both ends of the one-and-done spectrum as it pertains to the Jayhawks.
“I was a four-year guy, yeah, but I didn’t go to college expecting to stay four years, trust me,” the former St. Anthony star said. “It just kind of happened that way. For the individual, the one-and-done is great. If I had the chance to leave after my freshman year, I would’ve been out. But, for the college game, it takes away from it a little bit.”
Self and the Jayhawks won a national championship in 2008 with a mostly-veteran cast. Two years later, John Calipari took the Kentucky job and began to reel in the very best high school recruits with great regularity. With that going on, Self began to play the one-and-done game more.
Xavier Henry showed up in 2009, followed by Josh Selby in 2010. Ben McLemore came to Kansas in the fall of 2011, but sat out as an NCAA partial qualifier. He starred as a red-shirt freshman after one season and was gone to the Sacramento Kings as the No. 7 overall pick in June’s NBA Draft.
“Up until Xavier Henry, Coach Self hadn’t really had a one-and-done and I remember during that time, he really wanted Xavier,” Taylor said. “I think he even leaned on Xavier to be a one-and-done. He pushed for that because he obviously thought he was a talented enough player to do it.”
While all of the one-and-dones were happening Kansas, Self never wavered on his reputation as a developer as the Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, Thomas Robinson, Jeff Withey and Cole Aldrich (now with the Knicks) all became stars over multiple seasons at Kansas, not to mention NBA players in the process.
“I think he understands that’s the type of environment we’re in right now,” Taylor said. “As a recruiter, you have to stay with what’s going on. Guys who thought they would be one-and-done were seeing Kansas as a spot to stay two, three years and that didn’t end up being their choice. Coach Self had Xavier one year, then Josh Selby the next year and Ben McLemore the next year. I think he just understands that that’s the direction college basketball is in and he had to go with it.”
As for this new wave of potential one-and-dones at Kansas, Taylor admitted not seen Oubre play yet, but he has seen Wiggins, Selden, Jr. and Embiid. Wiggins is getting much of the spotlight in the preseason, but Self apparently had some strong words to Taylor regarding Embiid, a 7-footer from The Rock School (Fla.) by way of Cameroon who did not begin playing basketball until he was 16.
“I watched him play and his game is crazy, he’s 7-foot doing between-the-leg dunks and windmills and all that,” Taylor said. “Coach Self told me that if he has him for two years, he’ll be the best big man he probably ever coached as far as skill, footwork, hands, everything. I played with some great big men, Cole Aldrich, Thomas Robinson, the Morris twins and to hear coach say that, I was blown away when I played with him in June when I was out there.”