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Despite recent failures, Jayhawks optimistic about 2014 at Big 12 Football Media Days

The Big 12 Conference's football media days take over the third floor of the Omni Dallas Hotel.

The Big 12 Conference's football media days take over the third floor of the Omni Dallas Hotel. by Benton Smith

Update: 4:45 p.m. - By Matt Tait

We'll obviously hear and learn a lot more about KU's new-look offense under first-year offensive coordinator John Reagan in the coming weeks, but we learned this much about it today — the players like it.

Nick Harwell said he loves the versatility the offense brings and how it allows him to make plays and put pressure on the defense in a number of different ways. Jimmay Mundine said he loves the tempo, the room to work and how it better takes advantage of KU's strengths, not just in terms of running game or passing game, but even more detailed in that Mundine is now blocking Sam linebacker and nickelbacks instead of offensive linemen.

He thinks that will make the whole attack more dangerous and give sophomore QB Montell Cozart more time to make plays himself.

Mundine spoke a lot about the responsibility of the seniors taking up some of the slack so the young QB doesn't feel like it's all on him.

As for Charlie Weis, he emphasized that the offense is Reagan's to run. He'll have input when he sees fit and he'll be there for him as a sounding board, should Reagan need one, but, for the most part, Weis will stay out of the way. Most of his input will come in the game plan stages early in the week and Reagan will handle the rest. Weis said he would not be involved much at all on game days.

What's more, the whole thing sounds a lot simpler, which we've heard before. Mundine gave an example of a play call from last year that had like 8-10 different words in it (see video below in the blog, from previous update). And that was for a basic run to the right. As he said, "That's a lot to process before you even think about how you're going to execute it." This year, though, that same play has been condensed into three words, which makes it easier to process, so that by the time you line up, you're thinking about HOW you're going to do something instead of WHAT you're going to do.

Subtle change, but pretty significant from the sound of it.

Update: 3:50 p.m. - By Benton Smith

KU senior wide receiver Nick Harwell might be new to the team, but he played three seasons at Miami (Ohio), where he caught 229 passes and 23 touchdowns in three seasons. He is an experienced veteran who knows the game.

Other than him personally looking forward to the season opener on Sept. 6 vs. Southeast Missouri State (because he had to sit out 2013 as a transfer), a couple of games on the 2014 schedule stood out for Harwell.

The receiver realizes the Jayhawks' second game of the season — at Duke (10-4 in 2013) — will be a challenging one. And the Sunflower Showdown will, of course, hold significant meaning for KU, after the Wildcats won by three touchdowns at KU in last year's regular-season finale.

Here's what Harwell had to say on the matter:

Update: 3:25 p.m. - By Matt Tait

Just finished up with interviews here at Big 12 media days and we probably have enough stuff to fill an entire section every day from now until camp starts on Aug. 8.

As I go through the tape and jot down the most impressive bits, I'll be sure to fill you up with a few that stood out right here. Like this one from senior TE Jimmay Mundine, who talked about facing his drops head on in the offseason and did not shy away from using the miscues as an opportunity to get better.

"(Tight ends) coach (Jeff) Blasko and I talk all the time about how if I just caught half of the balls I dropped, I would've had a completely different season," Mundine said.

To that end, the coach and the veteran pass catcher watched tape of every drop and tried to analyze exactly what went wrong. Most often it was simply a case of Mundine trying too hard to make a big play when the simple and safe play would have been just fine.

That, he said, was his biggest takeaway from the exercise and he's hoping it serves him well during his senior season.

"It sucked," Mundine said. "It hit me in the stomach, but it definitely motivated me. Now I'm just trying to focus on making the basic paly and not trying to do too much."

Update: 2:50 p.m. - By Benton Smith

After a morning full of Big 12 coaches, the players had their time with the media this afternoon at the Omni Dallas Hotel. KU brought seniors Ben Heeney, Nick Harwell, Cassius Sendish and Jimmay Mundine to media days.

Weis was back on the floor, too, so we bounced around from table to table to talk with all the Jayhawks. You get the sense from speaking with the guys that they are both realistic about how far the program has to go and looking forward to trying to be the team that gets KU out of its slump.

None by Benton Smith

We'll post more throughout the afternoon, but for now, here's senior tight end Mundine talking about some of the reasons he prefers new offensive coordinator John Reagan's system to what KU ran in 2013.

Update: 11:20 a.m. - By Benton Smith

Every time someone at Big 12 media days starts talking about Kansas football, some variation of the following phrase inevitably is uttered: KU needs to win some games.

Entering his third season with the Jayhawks, coach Charlie Weis spoke about some of the things that will make that possible while fielding questions at his morning press conference. Here are some of the highlights:

• Senior tight end Jimmay Mundine didn't arrive at Kansas ready to contribute to his full potential. He was far better as a receiver than a blocker. This season, he should be an integral part of KU's offense.

• There are expectations for sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart. "I'm glad I made the decision halfway through his freshman year to play him," Weis said. Now KU's coaches knows what they're getting and don't have to worry about jitters in Cozart's sophomore campaign. The 6-foot-2 195-pound QB has athleticism and can stand in the pocket and deliver. That gives KU a better chance to score more points.

• With senior Nick Harwell, a transfer from Miami (Ohio), Kansas is plugging in a No. 1 receiver who already has three years of big production on his resume. Adding a valuable senior leader like Harwell makes everybody around him play better.

• Each year more focus goes toward addressing less contact taking place for football players. In the concussion discussion, there are a lot of talks at length about minimizing the helmet-to-helmet type of contact. Still, Weis said teams need live tackling to be able to practice fundamentals and techniques. Defensive coordinator Clint Bowen will demonstrate proper form to all of his players. KU will only have two days a week of contact. And as the season goes on, it will have to be cut down even more.

• KU's offense has to stay on the field and suffer far less three-and-outs. When you have a mobile quarterback (which didn't happen for KU last year until Cozart began playing), "you're playing 11-on-10 football," Weis said. The QB carrying the ball puts much more stress on the defense.

• One reporter asked Weis if he could put a number on what would make 2014 a successful season for Kansas — as in, how many games do you need to win? Weis said it is Important that his team's expectation be clearly defined. But he didn't want to definite it for the media. But he emphasized the players know the expectations, while adding: "We haven't done a thing in the two years I've been here."

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis smiles during during the NCAA college Big 12 Conference Football Media Days in Dallas, Monday, July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis smiles during during the NCAA college Big 12 Conference Football Media Days in Dallas, Monday, July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

• KU's new spread offense is all coordinator John Reagan's. Weis will only be involved on offense during the week, not on game day. "I'm gonna let the offensive staff run the offense. I'm more of an advisor right now." The head coach said he will be a resource to Reagan.

• More on monitoring contact: No one pounds the guys at practice that play every week in games all the time. The "gray area" is getting the young players ready to play if they're not getting real in-game reps.

• On incoming freshman Jacob Bragg — He's "one of the best pure centers in the nation. Weis told Bragg the same thing he tells every recruit: Don't come in expecting to red shirt. Come in with the goal of beating everybody out for a spot.

• Weis was asked if cheating is widespread on campuses across the country. "Maybe I'm oblivious," he said, adding he hasn't seen it, but hears about it "all the time."

• Andrew Bolton, Kevin Short and Marcus Jenkins-Moore are players KU wants to see on the field. Bolton came in banged up and he is glad they didn't play him. Short in the secondary gives the Jayhawks a chance to keep up with the Big 12's offenses, which throw it around and play in space.

• For KU's Sept. 6 opener vs. Southeast Missouri State, the first female member of a Big 12 officiating crew, Cat Conti, will be on the field at Memorial Stadium. Weis, calling himself old-fashioned, said: "I'll try to watch my language." He added that It's great that women are being put on equal footing with men.

• Senior linebacker Ben Heeney is probably one of the more under-appreciated defensive players, if not players, in this league, according to Weid. Heeney reminds him a lot of former all-pro Zach Thomas — short but plays sideline to sideline with a vengeance.

• The QB situation at KU has been troubling the past couple of seasons, under Weis. The coach said true drop-back quarterbacks have gotten exposed. That's why they changed what they're doing, offensively at KU. The only offensive position that has been Big 12 caliber the past two years was running back, with James Sims. Players were marginal at other skill positions.

• In closing — The bottom line: If we don't score more points, we're not going to win more games.

— Hear complete audio from the press conference: Charlie Weis at Big 12 football media days

Update: 10:22 a.m. - By Matt Tait

Baylor coach Art Briles kicked things off for the coaches at the podium today by talking a lot about defending the Bears' 2013 Big 12 title.

It doesn't seem like he's all that worried about his team's chances in 2014.

Briles said, among other things, that the Bears would not try for a bunt or a single this season. They're swinging for the fences.

In addition, he said the whole notion of defending last year's title was a little crazy because "how can you defend something that can't be taken away?" Decent point.

KU coach Charlie Weis is up next. The 2013 KU highlight video is playing now...

Original post: 9:00 a.m. – By Matt Tait

Generally speaking, Kansas University football doesn't make many headlines during the annual Big 12 media days in Dallas, which begin today and wrap up Tuesday.

When you've won just two conference games in the past four seasons (33 tries), it becomes more and more difficult for the other Big 12 media members to care too much about the outlook for the Jayhawks in the fall.

That all changed last year, though, when KU coach Charlie Weis stole the show with his “pile of crap” line that was both bold and honest and remains misinterpreted by many to this day.

If I've learned one thing about Weis in his three years in Lawrence it's that he tells it like it is. No sugar coating, no dancing around the subject, just his real opinion — like it or not — regarding just about anything he's asked.

That's a great trait for a coach to have for a guy covering his program and it helps make the Jayhawks relevant at this two-day football kickoff event. When everyone else is talking about national title chances, Heisman hopefuls or the league race, the Jayhawks stay in the conversation because of Weis — both his resume and his reputation.

I can't tell you how many other media members who cover the Big 12 have mentioned to me in the past couple of years how awesome it is to listen to a guy who actually says something. That's not a knock on the other coaches in the conference. There are several incredible coaches in the Big 12, but there's a lot of coach speak, as well. Not with Weis.

I'm sure we'll learn a thing or two about the state of the KU program in the next couple of days — who's healthy and who's not, who's in jeopardy academically, who might no longer be on the roster, etc. — and we'll definitely learn a lot more about when camp opens Aug. 8. But the always intriguing question of “What's Weis gonna say next?” will be one of the biggest topics of the week down here and even though I've gotten used to the way the guy does business, I have to admit, I'm curious, too.

Stay logged on right here throughout the day today and Tuesday as Benton Smith and I will scoop up all the KU and Big 12 tidbits about the upcoming football season you'd care to read about.

Weis is scheduled to hit the podium at 10:30 this morning and he'll field questions for 20 minutes before returning to the ballroom around 1:30 for the breakouts. He'll be joined by seniors Nick Harwell (WR), Ben Heeney (LB), Jimmay Mundine (TE) and Cassius Sendish (S) and, between the two of us, we'll spend plenty of time with all five of them to get the latest update on where the Jayhawks stand heading into Year 3 of the Charlie Weis era.

Stay tuned...

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Andrew Wiggins signs endorsement deal with adidas

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt, left to right, Andrew Wiggins and general manager David Griffin hold up Wiggins jersey during a new conference Friday, June 27, 2014, in Independence, Ohio.

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt, left to right, Andrew Wiggins and general manager David Griffin hold up Wiggins jersey during a new conference Friday, June 27, 2014, in Independence, Ohio. by Tony Dejak, Associated Press

At least one thing about Andrew Wiggins' transition to the NBA will be nice and simple: the one-and-done Kansas University product will continue to play basketball in adidas shoes.

The official outfitter for KU athletics through 2019, adidas announced a professional partnership with Wiggins, Cleveland's No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, on Wednesday morning.

None by adidas Basketball

At about the same time, Wiggins shared the news via his Instagram account.

Been waiting for this day. Happy to be joining the @adidashoops fam! #teamadidas

Been waiting for this day. Happy to be joining the @adidashoops fam! #teamadidas by 22wiggins

ESPN's Darren Rovell first reported the endorsement deal Tuesday night. His sources said the multi-year contract guarantees the incoming rookie at least $2 million a year.

In a report on Forbes.com, Darren Heitner revealed the contract includes a provision that would allow him to opt out of it and "revisit the marketplace" before the deal expires.

Heitner spoke with Wiggins' agent, Bill Duffy of BDA Sports Management. The agent said the contract included a confidentiality provision, meaning specific money figures couldn't be disclosed. But Duffy told Forbes it's "safe to say it's the greatest rookie contract adidas has ever done in basketball." According to Heitner's report, the deal includes a royalty scale designed to compensate Wiggins as he grows as an NBA player.

As part of the agreement, outlined by Forbes, Wiggins will make international trips and other appearances for adidas throughout the deal.

Rovell wrote Wiggins became the first No. 1 overall pick to sign with the company since Chicago's Derrick Rose, in 2008.

Duke's Jabari Parker, chosen one pick after Wiggins by the Milwaukee Bucks, signed with Nike's Jordan Brand before the draft.

Some speculated Wiggins also would sign with Nike, especially when he wore a pair of old school Jordans the first time he put on a Cleveland uniform, as part of his introductory press conference — photos from which can be seen on Cleveland's website.

None by Wear Your Kicks

But the Forbes report stated Wiggins and adidas "had an idea they would be bound by a contractual agreement for a few weeks."

Now that the 19-year-old from Vaughan, Ontario, Canada is a professional, Wiggins also has rolled out his own website: andrewwiggins.pro. It provides links to his social media accounts, a look at his own personal logo and, in general, information on all things Andrew Wiggins.

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Danny Manning: Larry Brown, Bill Self shaped his coaching style

Newly hired Wake Forest head basketball coach Danny Manning rides on the back of a motorcycle driven by the team mascot as he is introduced to students and supporters at a rally at the school in Winston-Salem, N.C., Tuesday, April 8, 2014. The former Kansas star is taking over the project of rebuilding the Demon Deacons. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Newly hired Wake Forest head basketball coach Danny Manning rides on the back of a motorcycle driven by the team mascot as he is introduced to students and supporters at a rally at the school in Winston-Salem, N.C., Tuesday, April 8, 2014. The former Kansas star is taking over the project of rebuilding the Demon Deacons. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) by Chuck Burton

Kansas University basketball legend Danny Manning received quite the introduction earlier this year when he arrived in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to take over the Wake Forest program.

After a two-year stop at Tulsa, Manning rode onto Wake's campus with a 38-29 career record as a head coach and one NCAA Tournament berth (in 2014).

Still settling in at his new home, the Demon Deacons' coach took some time recently to talk with Chip Patterson, of CBSsports.com, for the site's "New Faces, New Places" series.

In the Q & A, Manning credited three men with shaping his coaching style:

• his father, Ed

• his coach at KU, Larry Brown, the current head coach at SMU

• the man who gave him his intro to coaching, Jayhawks coach Bill Self

Patterson asked Wake's new head man to describe his personal basketball philosophy.

"What's good for the team is good for you. And that's just the mentality that we have to have. I think Coach Self talked about it all the time, 'The pie is big enough for everybody if we do it the right way.' Ten years from now, what will the legacy of that team be? There are certain instances where people say, 'Hey I remember when Randolph Childress scored 35 points per game in the ACC Tournament and Wake Forest won.' That's a great moment. That's a great memory. But you talk to Randolph and he'll talk about, 'We had a good bunch of guys on the team and everybody sacrificed for each other and we did it for each other' or 'Coach (Dave) Odom really had us playing at a high clip.' Those are the memories that you cherish as a former member of the team."

Though Wake Forest failed to reach the NCAA Tournament each of the past four seasons (which included three straight losing records before going 17-16 in 2013-14), clearly Manning is embracing the program's history.

None by Danny Manning

That's the right approach to take at any school that has produced pro players everybody knows, such as San Antonio's five-time NBA champion Duncan and Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul. But Manning, of course, still wants to find more concrete ways to connect with his players at Wake Forest. He said he shares his array of playing experiences — ups and downs — in order to do so.

"As a player, I've been the guy that's been called upon to start and score points. I've been a starter, a facilitator, I've been sixth man, I've been a rotation guy, I've been a non-rotation guy, I've been injured. I've had every role on a team throughout my career that you can have. So I can relate to each individual on our team. I'm not sure exactly how that particular person is feeling, but I've got a pretty good idea."

And he knows when offseason efforts need to be rewarded.

None by Danny Manning

Manning also spoke about the importance of academics (and having something to fall back on when basketball is over), returning to North Carolina (where he grew up) and his thoughts on the state of college transfers and the rules surrounding them.

He shared that Self, who hired him at KU once his NBA career concluded, taught him a great deal about the world of coaching.

"Coach Self provided a great opportunity for me, created a spot for me, to get started and work my way up. I got a chance to see what the managers go through, what the trainers go through, what the medical staff goes through, then you move up to director of ops-type things. All that, up to assistant coach, has been very beneficial to me."

Manning described the support since his arrival as "overwhelming." One might say he is happy to be at Wake Forest.

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Andrew Wiggins workout highlights making social media rounds

In the pantheon of basketball mixtapes, this one is pretty tame.

You won't see Andrew Wiggins try to humiliate anybody with flash and bravado here. But you can see the 6-foot-8, possible No. 1 NBA Draft pick show off a few of the skills he has spent his on-the-court time trying to perfect leading up to Thursday's big night in Brooklyn.

Late Tuesday evening, Pure Sweat Basketball — a coaching and consulting workout enterprise — tweeted out a YouTube link of the one-and-done standout from Kansas University going through some of his pre-draft sessions.

Standing out in the documented practices, in which Wiggins plays with a pseudo defender, are not just his elite athletic ability, but also some developing tools.

The video begins by highlighting some low-to-the-floor dribbling from the lanky Canadian, who projects as a shooting guard at the next level. His high dribbles often got him into trouble in his one season at Kansas, and pro guards will eat him alive if that doesn't change quickly in the NBA. The tighter and lower the better.

The most impressive segments include Wiggins running back and forth from the three-point-line to the basket and out to the other side of the floor, dunking the ball with authority each time he returns to the paint after closing out to each side of the perimeter.

And, I might be crazy, but it seems as if his jump shot looks a little smoother. The change is subtle, but it seems cleaner, more fluid when Wiggins rises up off the floor to take a jumper from mid-range or deep.

One useful go-to move that Wiggins appears to be sharpening up on is the Michael Jordan/Kobe Bryant fade-away jumper. If he can master that, with his length and vertical leap, he'll be far more difficult to keep in check.

Wiggins supposedly had a great workout with Cleveland, owner of the draft's No. 1 pick. On Thursday night we'll find out if all his additional work earns him the prize he's been after.

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Cavs torn between Wiggins and Parker; more coming out on Embiid’s health

The Cleveland Cavaliers have 48 hours to figure out what, exactly, they want to do with their No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

As of Tuesday, ESPN.com's Chad Ford and Jeff Goodman are reporting the organization is torn.

Presumably no longer interested in Kansas University center Joel Embiid, following successful surgery on his right foot, the Cavs are debating the longterm merits of taking either KU's Andrew Wiggins or Duke's Jabari Parker.

Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins soars in for a dunk past Duke forward Jabari Parker for a dunk late in the second half of the Champions Classic matchup on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 at the United Center in Chicago.

Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins soars in for a dunk past Duke forward Jabari Parker for a dunk late in the second half of the Champions Classic matchup on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 at the United Center in Chicago. by Nick Krug

In Ford's most recent mock draft, released Monday, he had Cleveland going with Parker, a 6-foot-8 forward, despite the fact Wiggins had a far more successful workout with the team.

Ford had some insight on the Parker-Wiggins debate, as well as what else might be scaring some teams away from Embiid, on The BS Report with Bill Simmons.

Ford revealed that more than one source of his indicated Parker prefers Milwaukee over Cleveland, and he either tanked or wasn't worried about his workout with the Cavs.

Between that and the fact Wiggins seems a logical better fit for the makeup of the Cavs roster, and it seems the debate could end up going in the KU swingman's favor.

Here is Simmons' case for Wiggins going No. 1:

"… He's an excellent defender already. He's gonna kind of pick and choose his spots. He drifts out of games — he doesn't need the ball. He has a higher upside, I think we'd all agree, than Jabari. It just makes more sense to take him."

Ford agreed, saying he was confused with Cleveland's infatuation with Parker as a No. 1 pick.

"All I know is the Cavs have been a very screwy organization for awhile, and nobody's gonna be able to criticize them if they get Jabari, because Jabari's gonna be good. He's gonna have a really good NBA career, and he's gonna be good."

Kansas center Joel Embiid battles for position with Iowa State defenders Georges Niang, left, and DeAndre Kane during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Joel Embiid battles for position with Iowa State defenders Georges Niang, left, and DeAndre Kane during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

As for Embiid, apparently medical examinations revealed some things about the 7-footer's bone density that could leave some decision-makers skeptical, as did his blood work.

Here's what Ford, ESPN's draft insider, had to say:

"It's not uncommon for athletes who grew up in Africa to test positive for hepatitis, you know, for example. Something that has to do with diet. It's not uncommon for there to be anemic issues and things like that. There's enough stuff there that scares you a bit, but there's also hope that now that he's over here, starts eating right, gets in the right training regimen, lets his body, frame grow into… you know, he was growing so much at the time, that maybe these will be temporary growing pains and Embiid will be fine in a few years. I know a number of general managers who think that way, because I think he goes top 10."

Ford said a number of teams still haven't seen Embiid's medical information and his agent, Arn Tellem, could choose to be selective in its availability.

The ESPN reporter thought Philadelphia at No. 3, Orlando at No. 4, Boston at No. 6 and Philly at No. 10 seemed like possible destinations for the currently injured big man from Cameroon.

One team's doctor theorized, Ford shared, Embiid's body grew rapidly and the athletic center put enough torque on it in that span that it became detrimental to him, and caused the fractures in his back and foot.

"He's gaining weight, and he's getting heavier and his frame's growing, what have you, and this was causing the fractures. But you strengthen his core… and he quits growing and you get him on a right nutritional plan, and all of this stuff goes away."

Listen to the podcast at ESPN.com or on the YouTube player below.

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Alexander and Oubre genuine in ballislife.com interview

Future Kansas University basketball players Kelly Oubre, left, and Cliff Alexander pose during media availability leading up to the 2014 McDonald's All-American Game.

Future Kansas University basketball players Kelly Oubre, left, and Cliff Alexander pose during media availability leading up to the 2014 McDonald's All-American Game.

Now that incoming Kansas University freshmen Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre have arrived on campus, it's safe to assume the two five-star recruits will be mostly all business as they aim to develop in coach Bill Self's program.

Last month, ballislife.com caught up with the two Jayhawks, who were in Long Beach, California, for the BallisLife High School All-American Game.

— SPOILER ALERT: What follows is real talk from young athletes with professional aspirations. You won't see them answer questions in this fashion while they're playing at Kansas. Read/watch at your own risk. —

In a relaxed, playful interview, Alexander and Oubre show off a little of their personalities in a video the website posted this week.

From the opening, their Q & A with Rachel DeMita provides a chance to see the big man and wing both speak honestly and joke back and forth. DeMita suggests that Oubre might be a bigger hit with the females at KU.

Alexander's response: "It might be true… He a pretty guy."

The short back-and-forth includes authentic answers when the interviewer asks the two of them about being from large metropolitan areas, and what they'll miss about big-city life while living in Lawrence.

Alexander says it won't be an issue, and Oubre expands on the idea by saying they are at KU to play basketball, with the ultimate goal of moving on to the NBA.

"We're trying to get this money, man," Oubre says. "We're trying to use college as a springboard … to reach our dreams."

Other interview topics include their favorite NBA teams and tattoos, while Alexander and Oubre also discuss choosing Kansas because of Self's ability to develop players and the allure of Allen Fieldhouse and its fans.

As for which team will win the 2015 NCAA Championship?

Alexander: "The Kansas Jayhawks. Rock chalk."

Added Oubre: "A lot of other schools have good programs. Don't knock them. But we have savages on our team."

See the entire video below:

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Andrew Wiggins goes one-on-one with Steve Smith

Top NBA draft prospect Andrew Wiggins of Kansas prepares for an interview during the NBA draft lottery in New York, Tuesday, May 20, 2014.

Top NBA draft prospect Andrew Wiggins of Kansas prepares for an interview during the NBA draft lottery in New York, Tuesday, May 20, 2014.

As we get closer to the NBA Draft, Bill Self's Kansas University basketball program continues to get free pub from its one-and-done stars.

The latest endorsement came via an NBA.com interview, in which retired shooting guard Steve Smith went one-on-one with the Jayhawks' Andrew Wiggins.

The former Michigan State star, who spent 14 seasons in the league, asked the Vaughan, Ontario, Canada native why he decided to play at Kansas, and how Self's program prepared him to make the jump to the highest level of hoops.

Wiggins' response?

"I picked Kansas, just because when I went on my visit I felt like I connected more with the coaches and the team, and I just felt like I clicked with their fans. Just walking in the fieldhouse, it's hard to say no."

"And they prepared me for so much. Bill Self is a legendary coach, a great coach, taught me so much this year. And just being in a group with all the team, it's like a brotherhood, you know. I think I'll be able to surround myself with those guys for the rest of my life."

Andrew Wiggins (@22wiggins), no #NBACombine necessary... #Bounce #P3 #SportsScience #RafterClub

Andrew Wiggins (@22wiggins), no #NBACombine necessary... #Bounce #P3 #SportsScience #RafterClub by p3sportscience

Smith also brought up the famous social media post of Wiggins testing his vertical leap.

Smith wondered if the 19-year-old got his gravity-defying ups from his dad, former NBA player Mitchell Wiggins, or his mom, two-time Canadian Olympic track athlete Marita Payne-Wiggins.

Wisely, son didn't want to leave mom or dad out of the equation.

"I think it's from both, a little bit of both, you know. I've been blessed with some good genes."

Wiggins, who grew up in Toronto, mentioned as he has before about idolizing former Raptors star Vince Carter when he was a youngster. When Smith asked the soon-to-be lottery pick about whether his fascination with Carter would inspire him to enter the dunk contest, Wiggins talked about Carter being one of the best "in-game dunkers of all time," possibly indicating he'd rather try to replicate his boyhood hero that way than compete at the All-Star Weekend event. But considering all-time greats such as Julius Erving, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant participated in the dunk contest when they were young players, it might be difficult for Wiggins to turn down such an opportunity.

His NBA journey begins in just three weeks, at the June 26 draft in Brooklyn. Smith asked Wiggins why it was important to him to be selected first overall.

"I want to have that label. I want people to see me as the number one basketball player."

In closing, Smith had Wiggins complete a sentence.

Smith: "When it's all said and done, Andrew Wiggins will be…"

Wiggins: "Successful."

Click here to watch the full video at NBA.com.

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Wayne Selden shows off his hops

Kansas freshman guard Wayne Selden soars in for a dunk during an unofficial dunk contest during warmups before a scrimmage.

Kansas freshman guard Wayne Selden soars in for a dunk during an unofficial dunk contest during warmups before a scrimmage. by Nick Krug

Shortly after Kansas University guard Wayne Selden completed his freshman basketball season, he underwent a minor surgical procedure on his left knee.

In the words of his coach, Bill Self, "He was playing on a bad wheel all year."

Self didn't reveal until after KU's postseason banquet that Selden played with a nagging knee injury. The coach told reporters back in April: “He’ll be fine going into the summer, 100 percent. I think we’ll see him become even more explosive.”

If Selden's Instagram video from Sunday is any indication, Self's prediction was correct. It's the first week of June and and the 6-foot-5 guard from Roxbury, Massachusetts, is back to his rim-rattling ways.

His explosiveness might not even be back to the level he wants it at yet, but Selden can still pull off a between-the-legs, reverse jam after throwing himself a bounce-pass alley-oop.

But he has to feel good about the progress. As he wrote on the Instagram post: "Bounce coming back…"

A fully healthy Selden — more capable of driving to the paint and elevating for 3-pointers — in his sophomore season would go a long way toward keeping the Jayhawks near the top of the college basketball world.

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Cleveland might not be destination for Wiggins, Embiid after all

When Cleveland, Milwaukee and Philadelphia popped up as the NBA franchises which hit the lottery jackpot and owned the highly desirable top three picks in the 2014 draft, it seemed fair to assume Kansas University products Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid would end up in two of those cities.

Maybe the former Jayhawks end up donning a Cavs, Bucks or 76ers cap June 26 in Brooklyn.

Maybe not.

Here is a look at the chatter coming out of the three cities in question.

CLEVELAND

The Cavaliers have their choice of any player in the NBA Draft — Wiggins, Embiid, Duke's Jabari Parker. Whomever.

But The Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer thinks Cleveland could trade away that right to some other franchise in order to land an established NBA star.

The Cavs were slotted at No. 9 before the lottery played out and they somehow nabbed the top pick for the third time in four years. No one is complaining about 2011 selection Kyrie Irving. However, Cleveland hasn't made the NBA Playoffs since LeBron James bolted for Miami in 2010. What's worse, the organization appears to have blown it in 2013, when they took Anthony Bennett (4.2 points, 3.0 rebounds as a rookie) No. 1 overall.

They have to get it right this time. And doing so might involve trading the pick, if that means Cleveland can get someone like Minnesota's Kevin Love in return.

Cavs general manager David Griffin, as quoted by Schmitt Boyer, won't rule out any scenario:

"We're going to try to get radically better much quicker. We really feel like there's a sense of urgency about improving our team as a whole. We're going to look for the right fit and we're very open-minded about what that means.''

The strategy behind trading the pick for a proven NBA vet would be to make the roster more attractive to James, who could opt to leave Miami as a free agent if he so desires.

Love would be Cleveland's top choice — meaning Minnesota could be a destination for Wiggins or Embiid.

But Schmitt Boyer identified some other big-name NBA big men Cleveland should try to trade for in Memphis, Miami and Portland. So who knows what the Cavs will end up doing with the pick. They certainly have options.

If Cleveland can't find a deal that makes sense, or just decides to keep the top pick, who should they draft?

The Plain Dealer's Jodie Valade addressed that question, and provided some more insight from Griffin:

"I think it's not necessarily limited to three names that are more highly hyped. We've got to do a more thorough evaluation of all of the guys to know that we're not doing something too quickly. When you're looking at the guys who have all the hype they have that because of their upside and athleticism."

That sounds like crazy talk. And Griffin might not have even meant what he said.

Let's assume Cleveland doesn't pick a wild card again at No. 1. Valade wrote that Wiggins would become the Cavs' third Canadian, joining Bennett and Tristan Thompson. Plus, the high-flying KU product would fill "the glaring need they've had at small forward for four years," since LeBron left.

As for Embiid, she said the 7-footer is "still developing, which is always intriguing for teams."

In the Plain-Dealer's online poll, more than 50% of Cavs fans wanted the team to take Wiggins. Embiid was third, behind Parker, with about 22% of the votes.


MILWAUKEE

None by Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks (15-67) had the league's worst record in the 2013-14 season, thereby obtaining the best odds to win the draft lottery. But they clearly didn't have the luck of Cleveland (33-49).

Although speculation began even before the lottery that certain agents might try to somehow manipulate pre-draft interactions with Milwaukee in order to deter the team from drafting their clients, Bucks co-owner Wesley Edens doesn't think they will be so unlucky on that front.

The Journal Sentinel's Charles F. Gardner spoke with Edens about how the organization plans to work with the top prospects.

"I think they'll all want to work out for Milwaukee. It's a great place to be; it's a great place to play. At the end I think we'll get the player that the organization really wants."

The Milwaukee newspaper identified five potential picks for the Bucks at No. 2 — Embiid, Wiggins, Parker, Kentucky's Julius Randle and Dante Exum, of Australia — and examined how each player might fit in with the pieces already in place.

• Journal Sentinel on Embiid:

"… could be a once-in-a-generation center and would immediately bolster the front court. With Embiid at center, the Bucks could consider using Larry Sanders at power forward. Adding Embiid, though, might mean that Milwaukee will want to trade one of its current forwards or centers."

• Journal Sentinel on Wiggins:

"The addition of Wiggins would give the Bucks yet another athletic wing player as well as a player who can score. Some of Milwaukee's wing players struggled with man-to-man defense last year and Wiggins would shore up the Bucks on that end."

Unlike Cleveland, it seems Milwaukee isn't floating the idea of moving its top pick. The Journal Sentiel's Charles F. Gardner interviewed Milwaukee general manager John Hammond, who appears more interested in a young player who can grow with the rebuilding franchise.

"This is where we want to be, to be honest with you. We want to be in a position where we can start building this, and I think we need to build it through the draft."


PHILADELPHIA

None by Philadelphia 76ers

At this point, it seems like Philadelphia is the least likely destination for Wiggins or Embiid among the franchises with the top three picks.

Philly.com's first mock draft doesn't expect either to be around when the Sixers pick at No. 3.

Even so, The Inquirer's Keith Pompey wrote than one anonymous agent thinks Wiggins will work out for the Sixers, as well as the Cavs and Bucks — but not for any other teams.

Pompey also spoke with Philadelphia general manager Sam Hinkie, who doesn't think the organization will have to worry about top players being uninterested in the franchise.

"I suspect from our discussions thus far that most of the top players in this draft find Philadelphia an attractive place because they want to be in a place where they'll have opportunity. They want to play in a big market and recognize what a platform it is to play in Philadelphia."

Inquirer sports columnist Bob Ford wrote about a scenario in which Wiggins and Parker are off the board when it's time for the 76ers to pick.

Surprisingly, he thought the organization might trade the pick to a team that covets Embiid:

Since the Sixers appear to be building their frontcourt around Nerlens Noel and have a playing-style philosophy that doesn't include two 7-footers in the starting lineup, they could find themselves in a powerful spot.

The Sixers picked Noel sixth in 2013. He missed the entire season due to a knee injury. For some reason, people in Philadelphia think Noel's presence means the Sixers should avoid Embiid. Michael Kaskey-Blomain wrote about that subject on philly.com.

We'll have to wait and see if the team's front office feels the same way — if the Sixers even get a chance at the Cameroon native who looks the part of a future all-star.

Philly.com also posted a photo gallery that included how each of the draft's top 10 prospects would fit in with the 76ers. Again, they were down on Embiid. Wiggins, on the other hand...

He has been prone to turning over the ball and that could be the case in a high-volume offense like Brett Brown’s. However, Wiggins probably would be the most valuable asset to acquire given Brown’s speedy and transition-heavy offense.

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Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid giving KU even more exposure

Potentially one of these teams is gonna get me #NBADRAFT #WeAllFromAfrica

Potentially one of these teams is gonna get me #NBADRAFT #WeAllFromAfrica by joelembiid

Say what you will about the one-and-done rule and players who only spend their freshman year wearing a particular college basketball team's colors. But when a coach lands future NBA lottery picks like Kansas University's Bill Self did in Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, it really does help the program.

Would the Jayhawks have a far better chance of winning a national championship in 2015 with Wiggins and Embiid back as sophomores? Of course.

However, the rules in place allow them to begin their professional careers now. And because they are so highly regarded, the faces and voices of Wiggins and Embiid already have been all over the media landscape for interviews leading up to Tuesday night's NBA Draft Lottery.

Guess what inevitably comes up every time they do an interview? KU, Lawrence, the Jayhawks' devoted fan base or how much they enjoyed their time there.

Even Self appeared on ESPN's Outside The Lines on Tuesday to discuss the draft process and KU's two potential top-three picks.

June 26 — the day of the 2014 NBA Draft — is "Andrew Wiggins Day" in his hometown of Vaughan, Ontario, Canada. But Monday might as well have been Wiggins Day at ESPN.

The well-prepped 19-year-old bounced around the sports network's campus doing multiple interviews.

On "First Take," Stephen A. Smith tried to get Wiggins to brag about himself and why he should be the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Never one to sing his own praises, Wiggins finally caved a little to Smith, who insisted he make a case for himself as the top choice:

"I'll always put myself number one, over anybody else. That's just me. I've got a lot of confidence in myself."

On "Numbers Never Lie," co-host Michael Smith tried to get Wiggins to commit to next year's dunk contest on the spot. The high-flying Canadian wouldn't give a yes or no answer, but again handled it well.

Wiggins also went on SVP & Russillo. Listen to the interview by clicking here.

On Tuesday, the media blitz continued, with Wiggins doing a live chat on NBA.com with Rick Fox. Both Wiggins and Embiid did radio interviews on SiriusXM's NBA channel, too.

All of that came after a morning public appearance and autograph session in Times Square, leading up to tonight's lottery in New York.

None by Champs Sports

Guess what. They'll both be in attendance for that, too, as ESPN broadcasts it live, beginning at 7 p.m.

Remember: the more often Kansas has players of this caliber, moving on to the NBA as coveted commodities, the more future classes of top recruits will be interested in following in their gigantic footsteps.

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