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Will Andrew Wiggins average over/under 18 points next season?
I guess Andrew Wiggins is kind of a big deal.
Not only has he moved the Kansas men's basketball team from 30-to-1 odds to win the national championship to 7.5-to-1, but the site Bovada also had individual odds on whether Wiggins would score over or under 18 points per game next season. No other college player was given similar attention on the site.
This actually brings up a good question: Will Wiggins average more or less than 18 points per game for KU next season?
3 reasons Wiggins could average 18 points per game
• Opportunity: KU doesn't return much in the way of proven scorers. It'd even be different if a guy like Jeff Withey (13.7 points per game last year) was coming back.
Really, though, who is a guarantee to score more than 10 points per game next year? I would think most KU fans would say a healthy Perry Ellis should, but other than that, what guarantees are there? Wayne Selden is athletic, but will he be an immediate scorer? Conner Frankamp is a great shooter, but how many minutes will he get right away? Tarik Black is a nice addition, but his stats indicate he's more of a complimentary scorer rather than a go-to one.
If Wiggins is the "alpha dog" that KU coach Bill Self says he is, then it's definitely possible he'll be shooting a high percentage of the Jayhawks' shots on a team that doesn't return any starters from a year ago.
• Pace: With athletic players like Wiggins and Selden — and no lumbering centers to slow down the offense — KU should be looking to push the pace in 2013-14. And obviously, more possessions would give Wiggins extra shots to get to the magic 18 point-per-game number.
• Self's green light: When Self has had talented offensive players in the past, he's practically begged them to shoot more ... even if they didn't.
KU guard Sherron Collins said that, in practice, Brandon Rush would have to run on the treadmill if he passed up a jumpshot.
This past season, KU guard Ben McLemore often talked about how Self wanted him to be more aggressive, including this quote from a story in late January:
“Coach Self always stresses to me that he needs me to be more aggressive, and I need to create more opportunities offensively to get myself open one pass away. I need to get myself open. I need to do a better job of that. I didn’t plug myself in the first half. I wasn’t aggressive like coach wants me to be. Coach told me to go out second half and be more aggressive and plug myself in.”
Wiggins likely won't hear any grumblings from Self if he decides to be an ultra-assertive player on the offensive end.
3 reasons Wiggins won't average 18 points per game
• Schedule: Let's face it: It's much easier to put up points against patsies.
It'll be much tougher for KU players to rack up the points in the non-conference season this year, as the Jayhawks' slate is loaded with contests against Duke, Florida, New Mexico, Georgetown and San Diego State — and that's not even counting a three-game trip to the Bahamas in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Even some of the "easier" games aren't that easy, as Iona (101) and Towson (168) finished in the top half of KenPom's rankings a year ago.
If Wiggins gets to 18 points per game next season, he'll have earned it against what is sure to be a top-five schedule.
• 18's a high number: Only 48 players averaged 18 points or more per game last season, and just four of those players were on teams that finished the year in the AP top 25 (Creighton's Doug McDermott, Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas, Louisville's Russ Smith and Michigan's Trey Burke). Notice also that none of those players were freshmen.
If you're wondering about Self's 10-year history at KU ... only two players have topped the 18-point-per-game barrier.
The top freshman scorer under Self? That would be McLemore, who averaged 15.9 PPG last season.
• History of No. 1 prospects: To see how other top-ranked prospects had fared in their first year of college, I looked up the No. 1 recruits over the last eight seasons in the RSCI rankings (which compiles many recruiting rankings to make a comprehensive list). I then looked at how many points per game each player scored in his freshman season.
Only one — USC's O.J. Mayo — averaged more than 18 points per game.
Interesting, only two players on that list averaged more than 16 points per game, which shows how difficult it has been in the past for a top recruit to step in and produce big point numbers right away at a top program.
Your answer to this question probably depends on your view of Wiggins.
Is he the best high-school basketball player since LeBron James, as a few analysts have claimed? If he's that kind of talent, he should get 18 points per game fairly easily.
If, talent-wise, he's around what the other No. 1 recruits have been, then it's a much tougher question to answer. Most No. 1 guys don't step immediately into blueblood programs and average 18 points per game, but then again, most No. 1 guys aren't entering a team with no returning starters and a coach that has pleaded with his elite players to shoot more in the past.
For me, I'll say Wiggins finishes just under 18 points per game. I think he'll definitely be above McLemore's 15.9 last year, but getting 18-plus against the schedule KU has next year will be a difficult task.
Vegas usually isn't off by much, and I don't think it is here, either. I'll say Wiggins ends somewhere around Marcus Morris' mark of 17.2 PPG in 2010-11.
But I'm definitely not confident enough to put my money where my mouth is.
What do you think: over or under 18 points per game for Wiggins next season? Be sure to vote in our online poll.