Who benefits the most by landing Andrew Wiggins?

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In less than 24 hours, we will all finally know the answer to the elephant in the room in every college hoops conversation since Louisville won the 2013 national title: Where will Andrew Wiggins go to college?

On Sunday evening, Wiggins officially announced that he would be making his decision public at 12:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday afternoon, meaning that at precisely 12:16 p.m. ET on Tuesday, there will be one team and one fan base who just saw their expectations for the 2013-2014 reach a new level.

The four schools still involved in Wiggins’ recruitment? Kentucky, Florida State, Kansas and North Carolina. Kentucky is the easy pick since, well, since they are Kentucky; they always land these recruits. Florida State is the trendy pick and the program many believe to be the favorite. Kansas is the sleeper that is making a late-push. North Carolina is the longshot, but who doesn’t love an underdog story.

Who has the most to gain from landing Wiggins? Who cannot afford to miss on this future star? Just how important is landing a preseason first-team all-american to these four schools? Read on and find out:

Florida State: The Seminoles took a massive step back a season ago, as they struggled to find any kind of consistency on the defensive end of the floor — Leonard Hamilton’s typical trademark — and couldn’t find any kind of consistency in their front court. They finished the year 18-16, a record which was probably better than it should have been thanks to the repeated late-game heroics from Michael Snaer. But the ‘Noles are already bringing in a talented recruiting class — headlined by Xavier Rathan-Mayes, a close friend of Wiggins’, and Jarquez Smith — and return a better-than-you-realize core of Devin Bookert, Ian Miller and Okaro White.

Without a doubt, this would be the most intriguing place for Wiggins to land. This kid is regarded in the same vein as LeBron James and Kevin Durant, and we all remember what LBJ and the Durantula did in their first seasons out of high school. LeBron averaged 21, 6 and 6 for the Cavs while Durant lit up the Big 12 for 25.8 points, 11.1 boards, 1.9 steals and 1.9 blocks as a freshman. With that kind of a talent on the roster, FSU immediately becomes a threat to reach the Sweet 16. Without him, this team is likely destined for the NIT.

Kansas: The Jayhawks, who some believe are right behind Florida State as favorites to land the services of Wiggins, are already going to be an interesting team to follow through the 2013-2014 season. We all know about the streak — Bill Self has won at least a share of the last nine regular season titles in the Big 12 — but this group will be losing all five starters from a season ago. Their returnees: Perry Ellis, Naadir Tharpe, Andrew White and Jamari Traylor. Their newcomers: Wayne Selden, Joel Embiid, Connor Frankamp, Frank Mason, Brannen Greene. There’s potential there, sure, but there is also a ton of youth. With Oklahoma State and Baylor returning a ton from a season ago, this could be the season that the Jayhawks lose their grip on the league.

But with Wiggins in the mix, it becomes a much different story. He immediately becomes the star and go-to guy that the Jayhawks desperately need. He takes the pressure off of the point guard spot. He makes things easier on their young front line. This group would very-much resemble the 2007-2008 Texas team with Durant. The Jayhawks would immediately become the favorite to win the Big 12 — you simply don’t bet against Bill Self if he gets Wiggins on his roster — and they should be considered a legitimate Final Four contender.

Kentucky: Kentucky, like Florida State, is coming off of a first round exit in the NIT. And like Kansas, the Wildcats are losing a number of pieces this offseason — Archie Goodwin, Nerlens Noel, Julius Mays. The difference is that Kentucky is already bringing in one of the best recruiting classes of all-time, and they still return Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein and Kyle Wiltjer. This team already goes nine-deep with top 40 recruits. They are already the preseason No. 1 team in the country. They probably don’t need Wiggins to win it all, but in the real world, there’s never a situation where you ‘don’t need’ a talent like Wiggins.

If Kentucky wins this recruiting battle, the talk about the Wildcats going undefeated will commence. And it’s possible. This will be the most ridiculous accumulation of talent on any roster in recent memory. NBA teams will be renting out apartments in Lexington during the school year; it’ll be cheaper than spending all that money on hotels. Think about this: the Harrison twins in the back court, Wiggins on the wing, Julius Randle and Cauley-Stein up front with James Young, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Poythress and Wiltjer coming off the bench.

Yuh. Ikes.

There are concerns, however — How do minutes get split up? Are the guys on the bench happy being ‘guys on the bench’? Are there too many attitudes and egos on this roster? — but I’m not sure there is a coach in the country better-suited to handling this team than Coach Cal.

North Carolina: Few believe Wiggins will end up at North Carolina, but if he does, he would be the perfect piece to slide into Roy Williams’ system. Think about it like this: the guy is basically the same position as Reggie Bullock, only worlds better than Reggie Bullock. And when North Carolina made their late-season run in 2012-2013, it was when Bullock played in the front court alongside PJ Hairston and James Michael-McAdoo. In that system, I’m not sure there is a player better-suited to being an undersized-four than Wiggins.

With Marcus Paige also returning, and another talented recruiting class coming in this season, the Tar Heels were already considered a borderline top ten team and the biggest challenger to Duke and Syracuse in the ACC. With Wiggins, they would be the favorite to win the strongest conference in the country and a real national title contender.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Wichita State getting more national respect with non-conference scheduling

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Wichita State is starting to gain more national respect with regards to its non-conference schedule.

Since moving to the American Athletic Conference this spring, the Shockers have not only gained the benefit of being in a multi-bid league every year, but they’re also getting better teams to play them outside of conference play.

According to a report from Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle, the Shockers now have non-conference games scheduled with Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State this season. With Wichita State also playing in the Maui Invitational, it gives the Shockers plenty of opportunities to schedule quality opponents and improve its NCAA tournament seeding. And that’s before Wichita State starts conference play.

Although Wichita State was getting invited regularly to prestigious non-conference tournaments such as Maui or the Battle 4 Atlantis, they were having a tough time getting certain schools to book home-and-home series. The Baylor series signifies a small, but significant, change to how Wichita State might be able to do things now.

USC forward Bennie Boatwright returning for junior year

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USC has a chance to be really good next season as forward Bennie Boatwright announced that he’s returning for his junior season.

The 6-foot-10 forward put up 15.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 36 percent from three-point range as his return means that the Trojans should be a major contender in the Pac-12 next season. Elijah Stewart also announced this week that he is returning as USC could start Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Stewart, Boatwright and Chimezie Metu next season.

With Duke transfer Derryck Thornton Jr. also becoming eligible and McDonald’s All-American guard Charles O’Bannon Jr. entering the program, the Trojans are a potential top-10 team.

Following decommitment, four-star recruit makes eye-opening remarks about Ohio State

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Ohio State lost a four-star recruit on Wednesday when in-state Class of 2018 wing Darius Bazley opted to open up his recruitment.

As a rising senior who is just finishing his junior season of high school, Bazley’s decommitment isn’t going to immediately hurt the Buckeyes next season. But the 6-foot-7 wing’s comments about why he opted to open up his recruitment are pretty jarring.

In a story with Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch, Bazley opened up about why he decommitted from Ohio State. Bazley’s eye-opening remarks include how the Buckeyes might not get him ideal NBA exposure and how Ohio State might miss the NCAA tournament in his freshman year.

“I was excited when I first got the offer,” Bazley said to Jardy. “Ohio State is still a great place. It’s nothing against the school or anything, but my one ultimate goal is to get to the NBA and I just didn’t feel as confident as I did when I first committed that Ohio State was one of those schools that could get me there. At the end of the day I’ve got to perform no matter where I go, but I think there’s other schools out there that could put me on a bigger stage and in a better position to show those NBA scouts when I get to college what I can do.”

Bazley also didn’t appear to be pleased at the recruiting class coming into Ohio State for the Class of 2017, which is the class that is coming in this season. Remember, Bazley is a Class of 2018 recruit who still has to finish his senior season.

“Ohio State, they didn’t make the NCAA Tournament this year,” Bazley said to Jardy. “They didn’t even make the NIT, which is unfortunate, but I looked into the recruits they have coming into next year, they didn’t look too good for the future. So I felt like when my class came in, yeah, we would’ve been OK, but good enough to make the tournament? I don’t know. I just felt as if I was to de-commit, actually take my time, figure everything out it would just be a lot better.”

Ohio State was once one of the major destinations for one-and-done players a decade ago so these remarks are very surprising. D’Angelo Russell was a top-five pick in the NBA Draft only two years ago, and while the Buckeyes might not be as successful in recent years as they once were, they still get plenty of national exposure with regards to producing NBA talent.

The NCAA tournament comments might carry some more weight though. The Buckeyes have missed the NCAA tournament in two consecutive seasons and things are also looking difficult for them to reach the Big Dance for next season. If Bazley wants to play in the NCAA tournament, then I could understand him wanting to open things up and explore more options.

Still, you don’t often see a player make comments like this about a school after decommitting–especially a program with as much national exposure as Ohio State. Bazley is likely going to face some heat for his remarks, but if those are his true feelings about a future life decision, then he should explore what else is out there.

Nevada gets transfer commitment from Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman

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Nevada continues to build its roster through transfers as the Wolf Pack added Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman on Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Thurman will have to sit out one season before playing his senior season but he is coming off of a very good campaign for the Mavericks. The versatile forward put up 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.

One of the Summit League’s better players the last two seasons, Thurman should be a solid rotation forward for Nevada as he has a chance to be a breakout player with one more year of development. If Thurman can improve his 25 percent three-point shooting then he could be a major factor for Nevada.

D-League salaries, two-way contracts increase NBA Draft early entries

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Yesterday, I wrote a piece about how it’s dumb to criticize players for entering the NBA Draft without costing themselves their collegiate eligibility when the NCAA’s new NBA Draft rules are specifically designed for said players to be able to do that.

In that column, I mentioned that D-League salaries are on the rise and that the NBA’s new CBA instituted something called “two-way contracts,” and I wanted a chance to elaborate and clarify a couple of the points that I made.

Let’s start with the “two-way contracts,” which NBA teams each get two of. They are essentially a retainer that those teams can place on younger players they want to be the 16th and 17th men on their roster, holding their rights as they bounce between the D-League — where they will likely spend the majority of the year — and the NBA. The catch is that those players have to have less than three years service as a professional, and the point of it is to provide a financial incentive for younger players with the potential to reach the NBA to remain stateside while allowing those NBA teams to develop them.

That financial incentive is fairly large, as well: Two-way players will make $75,000 guaranteed and will be able to make up to $275,000, depending on the amount of time they spend with the NBA team.

That means there are an extra 60 jobs this season that can end up paying players with less than three years of professional basketball experience upwards of a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

That’s not a bad starting salary.

The other point that I wanted to address is the rising D-League salaries which, technically, will not be rising. There are still going to be Tier A and Tier B players, who make $26,000 and $20,000 respectively. But the NBA has something called affiliate players, which each of the now-25 NBA teams with a D-League affiliate can pay up to $50,000 for training camp. NBA teams are allowed a maximum of four affiliate players, who will still make their $26,000 salary from their D-League team.

In other words, that’s 100 more jobs available in the United States where a professional basketball player can make $76,000, and that’s before you consider that the five NBA teams that do not yet have a D-League affiliate will still have to play players to get them into training camp.

That $76,000 is not a life-changing amount of money. Neither is the $275,000 that a two-way contract can pay. But it’s a pretty damn good paycheck to make for an entry-level job into the industry that you always dreamed of being in.

Athletes have an unbelievably small window where they can capitalize monetarily on their gifts.

If a 21-year old sophomore decides that he wants to continue to develop his game and chase his NBA dream by making $76,000 as a D-League player, is that really all that crazy?

After all, 135 of the 450 players, or 30 percent of the roster spots, on NBA’s opening night were taken by guys that had spent time in the D-League.

There’s more than one way to make a dream come true.