- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Are you ready? Have you girded your loins? The official start of the basketball season is just under two months away, and the first official day of practice is in less than three weeks. Have you come to terms with what this season will mean, with the insane hype that will attend it, with the NBA's unusual laser-focus on the collegiate ranks? Have you prepared yourself to ignore your Association-obsessed friends when they gripe on Twitter about how "unwatchable" the college game is, as they conveniently pretend the Sacramento Kings don't exist?
You should, because it's going to happen. The flood is coming. And it's not just a basketball flood or a mainstream sports thing. It's going to go wider than that. It's going to get cultural.
Why? Kentucky is why. Julius Randle is why. Jabari Parker is why. And more than any other, Andrew Wiggins is why.
How do I know this? Because this already happened:
That's a quick Instagram video of Wiggins posing for a photo shoot for GQ. GQ, if you don't know (you do, but just in case) is not a sports magazine. It is a very general interest men's fashion and culture magazine that spends most of its time writing about male movie stars, aspirational fashion, overpriced hair products and shoe trees. It only rarely spends its time on sports, and only then when something (or someone) achieves some measure of crossover recognition.
As our friends at NBC note, Wiggins hasn't even participated in a full practice with Kansas, let alone played in a game. But here he is, modeling KU's new jerseys, doing the double-palm thing required of every basketball player during photo shoots. Unlike Rob at NBC, I don't see amateurism undertones at work here; amateur athletes pose for magazines all the time.
No, this is more revealing of what this upcoming season has in store. NBA fans are going to tack their obsession onto Wiggins and Parker and Randle, and even the most casual, mainstream sports fans are going to tune in to see the "next LeBron James" (which, just wait, someone will say it). Our quiet, peaceful little college hoops neighborhood is about to be overrun with TV cameras straining for shots of the new neighbors. It's going to be pretty crazy around here for a while.