- Myron Medcalf, ESPN Staff Writer
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Coaches are quick to temper high expectations that surround top prospects.
It’s not that they doubt their recruits’ potential. They just want those recruits to stay focused. And any additional hype could make that task more difficult.
It’s common to hear phrases like “He’s only a freshman, so we’ll see” or “He has a lot of work to do before I can make any assumptions.” Again, the goal is to lower the bar a bit and reduce the size of the target on the young player’s back.
Even though Wiggins -- the projected No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft -- has spent much of the past few years in the spotlight, Kansas coach Bill Self said what he’ll experience at KU is “a different level.”
“I kind of feel for him,” Self said. “(He’s got) professional autograph seekers waiting for him every time he steps out of his apartment. He’s going to have to tell people ‘no.’ We’ve got to help him do that.
“Players can have rock star status and whatnot. But this could be kind of ridiculous if he lets it get to him. He just wants to come here and enjoy the summer. Hopefully people will allow him to do that.”
Self said he may ask former Kansas star and current Tulsa head coach Danny Manning to counsel Wiggins about life in the Lawrence limelight.
“Other than Danny, you’d have to go back to Wilt (Chamberlain) to find a guy that had this much fanfare coming in,” Self said. “He’s just a kid. I told him the other night that he hasn’t made a basket yet. The attention he’s received is based on potential. It’s not based on anything he’s done.
“But I think he should welcome the expectations. There’s no reason he should run from them.”
But Self is no fool. He knows that he has one of the most talented players in recent college basketball history. And he’s not running from that notion.
During Tuesday morning’s Big 12 summer media teleconference, Self didn’t avoid the projections about Wiggins’ potential impact in Lawrence.
“I think his ceiling’s high. ... I would hope he’s as talented as any player in the country,” Self said. “From a raw, athletic-ability standpoint, he can do some things that I’ve never had a player be able to do physically.”
That’s coming from a coach who had Ben McLemore -- a probable top-five pick in Thursday’s NBA draft -- last season and multiple lottery picks prior to that.
Wiggins’ arrival is unlike any we’ve ever seen in college basketball. He’s not the first unanimous No. 1 prep to create a frenzy. But he’s the first recruit who’s emerged with this level of anticipation within the social media era, which has added another level of scrutiny and emotion to the entire recruitment process.
These kids are more tangible now as a result.
It’s not like Self said something that wasn’t already apparent beforehand. But it’s always intriguing when a coach confirms the unrivaled buildup.
Self, however, also inserted necessary alerts about Wiggins.
“He’s still just 18 years old,” Self said during the teleconference. “Hopefully by midseason he’s totally comfortable to really just play and not think. … Early in most kids’ freshman campaigns, they’re thinkers instead of reactors.”