Even without Wiggins, UK poised to be among college basketball’s elite



By David Schuh | @DSchuhKernel

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Andrew Wiggins is not coming to UK. Those sobering, fearful words became a reality for Cats fans Tuesday when the Canadian superstar chose to play his college basketball at Kansas.

It was one of the quietist high profile recruiting announcements in recent memory, for maybe the best high school player since LeBron James in 2003.

And under normal circumstances, losing Wiggins would have been a major blow to a program coming off a season defined by its disappointment.

However, there was nothing normal about this offseason.

Think about the roster that John Calipari has assembled. You’ve got two 6-foot-5 guards, a 6-foot-6 swingman, a 6-foot-9 forward with a freakish wingspan, a 7-foot, 250-pound center and a strong and agile 6-foot-8 power forward.

Are you lost yet? Those aren’t even all the freshmen.

Calipari wanted Wiggins. Anyone would be foolish not to. But he put himself in such a luxurious position that he doesn’t think he needs him. That’s exactly how he wanted it to be.

“I’m as confident before and after his decision and I wish him well,” Calipari said. “I mean, he’s a great kid and is going to be a terrific basketball player. It didn’t change me any.”

He must feel much like he did before the 2011-12 season. He has maybe the best recruiting class ever, and returning players who have talent and experience. The premature comparisons are there.

But we’re smarter than that. Aren’t we?

It takes much more than that. If this past season taught UK fans anything, it’s that so many things have to be right for even the best team to succeed.

A lot of people have a lot of expectations about Calipari’s fifth team. That’s fine — sports would lose something without that. But until guys put in the work, until they come together, and until they understand how to set aside their high school stardom for collegiate success, that’s all they’ll be — expectations.

College basketball as a whole was mediocre last season. Louisville developed into a great team, and it showed. But the quality of basketball played by other teams, even into March, was frustrating to watch at times.

Next season appears to be drastically different. There will be great, entertaining teams all over the country, with experienced talent returning and future stars arriving.

Sit back and enjoy, basketball fans. It’s going to be a fun ride. And UK fans, don’t sulk for too long. Even without Wiggins, your Cats will be right there with the best.