There's little wonder why Kansas Jayhawk fans are beyond excited about the upcoming college basketball season. The offseason has been unreal, culminating with the landing of the nation's top recruit in 6-8 forward Andrew Wiggins.
Even before he committed to Kansas, the Jayhawks knew they would already have a top recruiting class, but with Wiggins, the final rankings shots through the stratosphere.
In addition to Wiggins, a player that has drawn comparisons to "fairly decent" talents in LeBron James, Kevin Durant and even Dominique Wilkins, Kansas will add high flying wings Brannen Greene and Wayne Selden.
All three players will present the ability to drive and kick or shoot at a high percentage from range, enabling the post players to go work down low with less traffic in the lane.
They will also add sharpshooter Connor Frankamp, a player that is in range as soon as he crosses halfcourt. In high school, Frankamp would often light up score sheets despite having two, three or even four defenders draped all over him. At Kansas, he'll likely have just one defender on him and with other players attracting significant attention, Frankamp will be presented the opportunity to make opponents pay and pay dearly.
Getting everyone the ball will be point guard Frank Mason, who the staff loves. Mason is a guard that seems to have be part Sherron Collins and part Russell Robinson. He's heady, strong, has great toughness, a high basketball IQ and is very mature for his age. He could very end up as a huge steal for the Jayhawks.
And if that's not enough, the Jayhawks will welcome center Joel Embiid, a seven footer, whose stock has risen dramatically and has even gained a few comparisons NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon. He turned heads at some of the post season all star games.
Then, for the exclamation point, Kansas finishes its recruiting class with Memphis transfer Tariq Black, a 6-9 bruiser of a power forward that will come in and contribute immediately.
Ellis, grew by leaps and bounds last season, turning in breakout performances in the Big 12 Tournament. Traylor, also showed glimpses of a player that could become a big time bruiser. He could be poised for a breakout season in 2013-14. Lucas redshirted, but is eagerly awaiting his opportunity to contribute, gaining experience after a year in the program.
On the guardline, Tharpe and White showed the ability to get hot from range. Tharpe became almost a sixth man of sorts for the Jayhawks last season and wasn't afraid of taking the big shot, or any shot for that matter. He is remembered for his game winning shot at Oklahoma State, last February, as well as having a chance to be the hero in their season ending loss to Michigan. The experience he gained will have in prime position to be the guy that could be called on whenever Kansas needs a late game hero.
With a heralded recruiting class coming, including one that could still grow and some great talent returning, the Jayhawks will take aim at an astonishing 10th straight Big 12 championship, as well as another deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
First, however, Bill Self will have a young team that will get an extremely tough introduction to college basketball.
The schedule will begin with their customary two exhibitions games at Allen Fieldhouse, this year against Pittsburg State and Fort Hays State on October 29 and November 5, respectively.
The regular season will begin Friday, November 8 at home against Louisiana-Monroe.
From there, the gauntlet begins for Self's young pups, when they travel to Chicago to face fellow college basketball power Duke in the Champions Classic, Tuesday, November 12.
Following two games in the Fieldhouse against Iona and Towson, the Jayhawks will travel to the Bahamas to take part in the Battle for Atlantis tournament over Thanksgiving weekend. Tennessee, Southern California, UTEP, Villanova, Xavier, Wake Forest and Iowa will be the other participating teams. It will also provide the young team with a chance to bond and gel early in the season.
From there, it gets tougher, as KU travels to Boulder on December 7, to face former Big 12 mate Colorado. The Jayhawks routed the Buffaloes, last season in Lawrence.
Three nights later, comes a primetime blockbuster matchup at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville, FL, when Kansas faces Billy Donovan and Florida. The two schools have met before, with the most memorable game coming in 2006, when the Jayhawks rallied to defeat the then defending and eventual repeat National Champion Gators behind big efforts from players that would eventually capture a title of their own in 2008.
After the Florida showdown, Kansas will take on a solid New Mexico team on December 14 at the Sprint Center. Kansas was undefeated in eight Sprint Center games last season, while the Lobos were a three seed in the NCAA Tournament before a first round upset at the hands of Harvard. The following will bring a titanic matchup in Allen Fieldhouse, when KU welcomes longtime power Georgetown on December 21.
Following a break and a home game with Toledo on December 30, Kansas closes it's brutal non-conference slate with a big time game against Steve Fisher's San Diego State Aztecs, a program that has elevated dramatically under the former Michigan coach, who has one National Championship and three Final Four trips on his resume.
From there, the Jayhawks will jump into Big 12 play, which will feature some tough competition from various challengers who look to knock Kansas off its lofty perch atop the league.
Baylor will have talent and once again will be a team that can take down anyone on a given night.
Iowa State is only going to get better under coach Fred Hoiberg and who can forget the three games, the Jayhawks and Cyclones played last season.
Lon Kruger seems to have Oklahoma ready to ascend to the top half of the league.
Then, there's Oklahoma State, who could present the toughest challenge to Kansas' stranglehold on the Big 12.
That doesn't even factor in the other schools, which could also take steps forward next year. But, it's the loaded list of games to start the season though, will no doubt have the Jayhawks in prime position to jump right in to Big 12 play, as they will be gunning for another title amidst tough competition. But, a non-conference schedule like this could have them prime for even bigger games further down the road.