KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas basketball coach Bill Self said Wednesday he is handling the out-of-control Andrew Wiggins hype just fine.
“The (other) guys are, too,” Self said. “Wiggins has brought a lot of excitement to our program but like I told him, he hasn’t done anything yet. He hasn’t made a basket.
“We have a talented bunch and he kind of spearheads that class, based on past performances. I’m excited and I know the fans are excited based on what I can tell.”
Article continues below ...
Self was at Kauffman Stadium prior to the Royals-Indians game Wednesday, teaming up with Royals right-hander James Shields for some public-service announcements on behalf of the KVC Behavioral Health foster care programs.
Self took a few moments afterward to chat a little about his Jayhawks, as well as a little baseball. He said he isn’t about to tone down some of the hysteria that has surrounded his program since the 6-foot-8 Wiggins — who already is being projected as the NBA’s No. 1 draft pick in 2014 — committed to Kansas in May.
“Nah, I don’t think you do that,” Self said. “The more you try to soft-sell or try to lower expectations … I just don’t think that sends the right message. I don’t think you do anything to promote it and I don’t think you try to run from it, either.
“We know we aren’t very good right now. We know we won’t be great early in the season. Our goal is that by the time these kids get a chance to mature and grow, we could be one of the toughest teams in the country and one of the toughest teams to beat.
“We have been a one-seed five of the last six years and the other year we were a three-seed. These kids have a long way to go to be even thought of in the same sentence as those teams.”
Self was back at The K for the first time since last summer, when he drilled a memorable home run in the Celebrity Softball game during All-Star week.
Self does have a little history with baseball.
“If it wasn’t for a hip injury in my junior in high school, you never know,” Self said, smiling. “I played (baseball) all the way through high school, or most of it. I wasn’t a great player, but I played on traveling teams. I was a below-average shortstop who could put the bat on the ball pretty well.”
Self said he is eager for the basketball season to start, and begin coaching a young team led by Wiggins.
“I don’t think he compares to anyone I’ve coached,” Self said. “This will be maybe the biggest wing we’ve had. The two that come to mind are (Ben) McLemore and (Brandon) Rush. But he’s three inches taller than both those guys.”
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org