One NBA scout says he is the best player to come out of high school in 10 years. Another says no one in high school or college basketball is on his same level. Still another says he would start for most NBA teams today if he were allowed in the league.
And there’s a chance this player could be wearing KU blue next year.
There’s also a chance he could be wearing Kentucky blue, North Carolina blue, or Florida State bl…garnet. Regardless, KU has a chance. Perhaps not a one-in-four chance, but a chance nonetheless. If Andrew Wiggins is anywhere near as good as everyone says he is, then there is no reason why coaches shouldn’t be pulling out all the stops to lure him to campus.
I’m not talking duffel bags of money or a new tractor for the family or a new house and job (nod to all the Blue Chips fans out there). I’m talking about the gray area in the recruiting game — the area every single high major program operates in.
Kansas is very good at operating in the gray and has been for some time. It’s time to continue this tradition of not breaking an NCAA rule but also not not breaking it too.
Let’s give his dad a front row seat to the games. Give him access to practice, to the locker room, to the team jet. Give him cool blue threads with three stripes and tell him not to worry about the lack of swoosh. Give him a competitive salary commensurate with others in his profession. And we can do all of this without breaking any NCAA rules.
Self needs to name pops KU assistant coach.**
** For this to work, a few assumptions need to be made: First, Andrew Wiggins would come to KU if Self named Mitchell Wiggins as assistant coach. Second, Andrew would probably not commit to KU if Self didn’t give Mitchell the job. Third, Self is cool with all the shit he would take from his peers and the media for making this move. Got that out of the way? Awesome. Let’s continue.
Some history is necessary. You might recall a certain other #1 recruit lured to Kansas after his father was named assistant basketball coach. The father’s name was Ed, and prior to arriving in Lawrence, he had been a truck driver for three years. Ed did play some professional basketball at one point, including two seasons on the Carolina Cougars of the ABA. But he had been out of basketball for some time. It didn’t stop him from taking the job when he got the phone call.
Ed received a good salary from Kansas. Somewhere between $27,000 and $30,000. He also received the use of an automobile — a 1983 Chevrolet Caprice.
And Ed also brought us Danny. And Danny brought us a championship.
Here’s another history lesson you might recall. A man named Ronnie was a head high school basketball coach, amassing a very impressive 109-28 record and two state championships. He had 20 years of basketball coaching experience, though on a much smaller scale than high major Division 1 hoops. Nevertheless, he was asked to join KU’s coaching staff and was given a shiny title as “Director of Basketball Operations.” Coincidentally, perhaps, Danny Manning was also on the staff at the time. He, too, had a shiny title: “Director of Student-Athlete Development.”
Ronnie brought us Mario. And Mario brought us a championship.
Catching a trend here?
It’s time to hire Mitchell Wiggins.
He too has some player and coaching experience. He played in the NBA (stints with Bulls and Rockets). He coached something called the Hickory Nutz and the Spearfish Black Hills Heat too. In short, he’s perfect for the job!
Because he can bring us Andrew. And perhaps Andrew can bring us a championship.
You might be wondering if this practice is even allowed under NCAA rules. In the years following the Ronnie Chalmers addition, other schools began hiring family members and AAU coaches in director-type roles in order to secure players. The NCAA finally caught up to this practice and instituted the IAWP (Individuals Associated With a Prospect) rule. It pretty much banned the hiring of individuals “associated with a prospective student athlete in any athletics department noncoaching staff position” (NCAA Bylaw 11.4.2).
But the above rule applies only to noncoaching positions (i.e., “Director of Basketball Operations” and “Director of Student-Athlete Development”), not coaching positions. And it just so happens KU has an open assistant coaching position waiting to be filled.
The timing could not be more perfect. Kansas is done with the 2013 recruiting class for the most part. Self and Co. may find a transfer or two, but Wiggins is really the only ’13 target left on the board that would require an assistant coach’s recruiting prowess. For the most part, Self won’t have to worry too much about 2014 either. Norm Roberts and Kurtis Townsend are very capable recruiters and Self can play closer role with guys like Okafor, Jones, Winslow, Whitehead, Vaughn, and Pope. If there is ever a year to be fine without a third established assistant coach or recruiter, it is this one. Plus, let’s be honest, this would be a 1-year contract.
So get on the horn, Coach Self. Bring Mitchell to Kansas. Bring Andrew to Kansas. And bring that next father-son championship to Kansas.
It has worked before.
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