Kansas University’s 2012-13 basketball team — which claimed a ninth-consecutive Big 12 regular-season title and a postseason tourney crown for the third time in four years while winning 30 games for a fourth-straight campaign — will be honored at the Jayhawks’ postseason awards banquet tonight at the Holidome.
“This team went 31-6. It was a team that was supposed to struggle this year, and they (players) raised everybody’s expectation level because they played to such a high level all year long. We thought we were good, and we were good,” KU coach Bill Self said of a squad that fell to Michigan, 87-85, in overtime, in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
“It was a wild year in college basketball,” KU’s 10th-year coach added. “We had as consistent a year as anybody. We had one rough stretch (three straight losses Feb. 2-9). TCU beat us (62-55 at TCU) and Baylor beat us (81-58 at BU). Oklahoma beat us by five or six. It was a one-point game in the last minute (72-66 setback at OU).
“Other than that, we led going down the stretch,” Self added of an 85-80 loss to Oklahoma State in Allen Fieldhouse, 67-64 loss to Michigan State in Atlanta and the season-ending defeat to Michigan in Dallas. “Our guys performed at a pretty consistent level. I’m proud of them, but obviously I wish we could replay those last two minutes (vs. Michigan). That’s as well as we played on a big stage in a tournament game in a while, and of course we let it get away from us late.”
It should be interesting to see which Jayhawk (or Jayhawks) claims the Danny Manning/Mr. Jayhawk Award at the conclusion of the banquet, which is sold out. Freshman Ben McLemore and senior Jeff Withey were both first-team All-Big 12 and consensus second-team All-Americans. Withey was NABC co-defensive player of the year with Indiana’s Victor Oladipo.
Playing in pain: Incoming KU freshman Wayne Selden suffered from an upset stomach during Saturday’s Jordan Brand Classic game, jayhawkslant.com reports. Selden — who was one of various all-stars who might have contacted food poisoning — did not score in 15 minutes. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Tilton (N.H.) School was 0-for-4 shooting with three rebounds, two assists, four turnovers and one steal.
“We’re going to work hard, play defense, and win No. 10 (league title in a row),” Selden told jayhawkslant.com. Asked about a national championship, he said: “Of course. The fans want nothing less.”
Selden was one of various players asked by USA Today how he’d fare in a game of one-on-one against Michael Jordan in his prime. Selden said he’d lose, 11-2.
“In his prime? Man, I’d get one point going to the rack, then he’d stopped that the next time so I’d have to go to a quick pull-up jumper and hope that it goes in. So yeah that’s two points. That’s it. I mean, that’s Jordan in his prime. I’m not doing more than that. Nah!” Selden told the paper.
Embiid excels: Future KU center Joel Embiid, a 7-footer from The Rock in Gainsville, Fla., was matched against 6-10 future Kentucky player Dakari Johnson at Jordan Brand practices in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“Johnson (Kentucky) has set the standard for centers since rejoining the 2013 class. He works for everything he gets, has great hands and defines efficiency in the post,” wrote Adam Finkelstein of ESPN. “Then there’s Embiid, who is just in the beginning stages of his development but has a wealth of upside. A 7-footer with broad shoulders who runs the floor like a deer, Embiid is built like the prototypical new-age NBA post player but has tools in his skill set as well with a sound jump hook and a super-soft touch that extends all the way out to the arc.
“Ultimately, Johnson was the best center in high school basketball this year, but Embiid looks like the better NBA prospect,” he added.
Embiid had a game-high five blocks to go with his seven rebounds and four points in the Brand Classic. Johnson had eight points and four boards.
“Late bloomer KU recruit @jojo_embiid impressed scouts w size+agility, shows top 10 NBA center potential if his offense continues to develop,” Tweeted NBAdraft.net.
Wiggins impresses Melo: The country’s No. 1 prospect, 6-7 Andrew Wiggins of Huntington (W. Va.) Prep, scored 19 points in the Classic.
“I like him,” New York Knicks’ player Carmelo Anthony told ESPN New York after the game. “I saw him last summer in Vegas. He looked really good.
“I wish him the best. Next year, if he does what he’s gotta do, he’ll be ready to take that next step (to NBA).”
Wiggins has not set a date to announce his college choice. He has a final four of KU, Kentucky, Florida State and North Carolina.
“No one I care about is telling (me) to go anywhere, or even bringing it up,” Wiggins told ESPN New York.
Future Kentucky player Julius Randle, who had 19 points and seven boards, said: “I’m trying my best (to recruit him to Kentucky), but it’s on him, and I wish nothing but the best for him. He’s a great player. He makes the game easier on me. It was fun playing with him.”