In the days before Kansas’ annual postseason basketball banquet, Andrew Wiggins was tipped off that he was an unofficial finalist for the program’s only award: The Danny Manning Mr. Jayhawk Award.
But when Wiggins arrived at the Holidome Convention Center on Tuesday night, he still hadn’t prepared much of a speech. He said he just didn’t think it would be him.
So when Kansas coach Bill Self awarded him the Mr. Jayhawk honor at the end of the night, Wiggins took the stage and kept his remarks brief.
“The memories will never fade,” said Wiggins, who announced his decision to enter the NBA Draft this month.
“It kind of caught me off guard, so I was a little nervous,” Wiggins said later. “But it’s an amazing award. I’m honored to get it, amongst the legacy of the names.”
In years past, the Mr. Jayhawk award usually was reserved for veterans — seniors that have invested many years in the program. But much like the rest of the KU season, Tuesday’s postseason banquet had a youthful theme.
“When you really break it down,” Self said, “he’s the best player on a Big 12 championship team (and) has probably brought as much exposure to this school in a positive way as anybody ever has, so I thought it was very deserving.”
Wiggins, who averaged more than 17 points per game in his only season at Kansas, was joined at the banquet by fellow freshman Joel Embiid, who has also declared for the draft.
Wiggins confirmed that he had signed with NBA agent Bill Duffy, who also represents Rajon Rondo, fellow Canadian Steve Nash and Joakim Noah, among others. Embiid, who recently returned from a trip to Los Angeles, signed with influential agent Arn Tellem of the Wasserman Media Group.
Self said that both Wiggins and Embiid had completed their academic requirements for the spring semester as of this week, meaning they’ll be free to prepare for the draft while leaving KU in good academic standing.
While Wiggins and Embiid said their unofficial goodbyes, Self reflected on a season that featured KU’s 10th straight Big 12 title — but ended in disappointing fashion in a round-of-32 NCAA Tournament loss to Stanford.
“It was a situation where it was very upsetting and frustrating, because as you guys saw these guys can play as well as anybody in the country, without question,” Self told the crowd at the sold-out convention center. “And we really didn’t do that at the very end.
“When we were whole,” Self added. “I really think we were the best in the country.”
• SELDEN HAS KNEE PROCEDURE:
Self revealed Tuesday that freshman guard Wayne Selden had a minor surgical procedure done on his knee after the season. Self said that Selden had injured the knee at the beginning of the season and played through the discomfort for most of the year.
“It was one of those deals (where) it was just bad enough not to do anything about it,” Self said. “But those nagging things you have to deal with all year long. But he did it, and he never complained once.
“But you could tell that he probably didn’t have the same pop he had back in August and September.”
According to Self, Selden should be back to playing and working out within a “week or two.”
• RECRUITING TRAIL:
While coaches are not allowed to comment on specific recruits, Self said Tuesday that Kansas could add “one or two” players to its 2014 recruiting class. Point guard Devonte Graham of Brewster Academy in New Hampshire will visit KU this weekend, while the Jayhawks are also still after top-five center Myles Turner of Euless, Texas.
“It’s not done yet, but there’s no reason that next year’s team — I don’t want to say as talented, because when you have maybe the one and two picks in the draft, it’s hard to be as talented,” Self said. “(But there’s no reason) next year’s team couldn’t be better if things fall right.”
• THARPE ABSENT: Self said junior guard Naadir Tharpe missed Tuesday’s banquet because his grandfather had passed away back home in Massachusetts. Tharpe is expected back in Lawrence this week.