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October 3, 2013

Self discusses Big 12 preseason awards

Kansas senior Tarik Black and freshman Andrew Wiggins were two of four Jayhawks recognized on the Preseason All-Big 12 Men's Basketball honors released Thursday. The accolades were voted on by the conference coaches who were not for their own team.

Black, a forward transfer from Memphis, was named the Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year, while Wiggins, a guard from Thornhill, Ontario, Canada, was selected the Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year as well as a member of the six-member 2013-14 Preseason All-Big 12 Team - a first in conference history that a freshman has appeared on the list. Sophomore forward Perry Ellis and freshman center Joel Embiid were listed Preseason All-Big 12 Honorable Mention by the league's coaches.

"That is a pretty solid first team and it's great to see a freshman get named to the first team in Andrew," Kansas head coach Bill Self said. "It's also good to see Tarik, Perry and Joel recognized but, like all preseason stuff, we won't take anything from this because it's based on potential. Now you have to go prove it."

In three seasons at Memphis, Black started 60 of 102 games played and averaged 9.3 points and 4.9 rebounds. He scored in double digits 41 times, recording 129 blocked shots and 71 steals. The Memphis native has 949 career points and ranked fourth on his previous school's career field goal percentage list at 60.5 percent.

A five-star player already adorned with a long list of preseason accolades, Wiggins came to Kansas rated the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2013 by every recruiting service. He averaged 23.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 2.5 assists for Huntington Prep in West Virginia last season. The 6-8 guard was voted the national high school player of the year by numerous organizations, including the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year. After arriving in Lawrence, Wiggins has been touted as a consensus preseason choice for All-America First Team accolades by various national media outlets this season.

"I'm honored that the Big 12 coaches recognize my potential," Wiggins said. "I'm glad to see Tarik (Black), Perry Ellis and Joel Embiid also in there. There are a lot of great freshmen in the league - and especially here at Kansas. Any one of my fellow freshmen teammates could have also been on this list."

Ellis is Kansas' leading returner in points (5.8 ppg) and rebounds (3.9 rpg) from last season. The Wichita, Kan., forward came on strong toward the end of 2012-13, including being named to the Big 12 Championship All-Tournament Team. Embiid is a five-star player who was ranked No. 6 on the ESPN 100 and classified as the nation's best incoming center. Last year at The Rock School in Gainesville, Fla., Embiid, from Yaoundé, Cameroon, averaged 13 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots per game.

Joining Wiggins on the 2013-14 preseason all-conference team were: Isaiah Austin (Baylor), Cory Jefferson (Baylor), Melvin Ejim (Iowa State), Markel Brown (Oklahoma State) and Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State). Smart was voted the 2013-14 Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year.

Kansas went 31-6 in 2012-13 and won its unprecedented ninth-straight Big 12 and NCAA-leading 56th regular-season conference championship. Head coach Bill Self brings back nine letterwinners, but no starters, from the team that advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 last season.

Reloading in a hurry, Self and his staff welcome eight newcomers to the 2013-14 roster. KU's class of 2013 comprises the second-ranked recruiting class in the country. KU is ranked as high as fifth in the 2013-14 national preseason polls.



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