Okay, you all know the tune to “Do You Know The Way To San Jose,” so sing along with me. Do you know the way to Tallahassee? You can also substitute Lexington or Chapel Hill as the destination. A funny thing happened on the way to those places Tuesday. Andrew Wiggins took a left turn on the experts and declared his song would sing, “I Know The Way To Lawrence.”
There were no ESPN cameras present . There was no fanfare, no switching back and forth with ball caps from the four wannabe schools. No fuss, no drama. Just results. That, Jayhawk fans, is Andrew Wiggins. He is a quiet , humble kid who plays great basketball. Bill Self’s kind of guy.
The experts told us Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton had the inside track because both of Wiggins’ parents went to school there. This is the same Hamilton who was the lead recruiter 34 years ago when another great high school basketball player, Ralph Sampson, also broke his heart by announcing he was going to Virginia and not to powerhouse Kentucky where Hamilton was an assistant coach.
Bill Self had this to say about Wiggins: “Andrew handled all of this just the way he said he would. No fanfare and no publicity. It was a classy, cool way to do it. He is an outstanding basketball player but he’s an even more outstanding person.”
So, this year’s National Gatorade Basketball Player of the Year will be a Jayhawk. Fun for Kansas fans but very important for the Big 12 Conference as well. A lot of national attention will be focused on the conference and, remember, there are some outstanding teams in the Big 12 and, sometimes, they don’t get the national exposure they deserve.
A case in point would be this past year’s conference co-champions, the Kansas State Wildcats. This attention, this spotlight, should enhance every conference member and their fan base. It happened that way when Wilt Chamberlain came to this part of the world, it happened when Michael Beasley became a Wildcat and it happened when Kevin Durant put on his cowboy boots and became a Texas Longhorn.
This is a win-win for every school in the Big 12 conference. A little more for the Jayhawks.
• Chalk Talk — There was a great article this past week by Tom Keegan in the Lawrence Journal World about Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder. It was titled “He Coaches Life, Then Football”. Yes, Kansas fans and yes, K-State fans, an article lauding K-State was in the hometown Jayhawk newspaper. Dig it up fans, no matter which team you support! ... The Kansas City Royals, though improving, just can’t seem to beat those dastardly NY Yankees! A three-game sweep by the guys in the pinstripes this past week left the Royals wondering. Former K-state basketball coach Bob Huggins once said about the Wildcats’ so-called “rivalry” with KU basketball, “It is not a rivalry until you start winning some games.” The Royals and Yankees are that way. ... Kudos to the Kansas State Athletic Department. Their baseball team is about to clinch the league championship and that will make the third league championship for the men this school year as they also won football and tied for first in basketball. Pretty impressive, especially when you realize the big money they are competing against at Texas, Oklahoma and Okie State! ... Former college football coach, now a television analyst and funnyman, Lou Holtz on being asked about fans who pelted the field with oranges as his team had just clinched a trip to the Orange Bowl: “I’m just glad we’re not going to the Gator Bowl!”
Charles Tabler is a contributing writer from Larned.