The Kansas Jayhawks have won at least a share of the Big 12 regular season championship each of the last nine years, but in order to make it a full decade of dominance, they'll need to rely on some unproven talent. Of course it helps when one of the newcomers is Andrew Wiggins -- a freshman who is almost certainly NBA-bound after this year with millions of dollars in endorsements reportedly coming his way.
But with hype comes expectations. Despite losing the core of a team that won 31 games in 2012-13, Kansas was picked tied for first with Oklahoma State in the Big 12 preseason poll. The Jayhawks will be tested early with a game against Duke in the Champions Classic, then they'll have matchups with Florida, New Mexico, Georgetown and San Diego State, all before conference play begins. There may be a few bumps in the road early, but Kansas will be battle tested by the time its first league game rolls around.
Andrew Wiggins, Guard, Fr.: Wiggins is the one you've been hearing about for months, and he's the one you'll hear about all year. The Canadian guard was the No. 1 recruit in the country and can play anywhere from the 2 to the 4. The Kansas athletics website says he might be the most hyped incoming freshman the school has had since Danny Manning. I assume you remember him, Kansas fans?
Wayne Selden, Guard, Fr.: The Boston area never fails to produce some of that nation's elite freshmen, and Selden proves that this year is no different. He was a McDonald's All-American and was ranked 14th in the Class of 2013 by ESPN. The Worldwide Leader says he is athletic and fearless -- a helpful combination when playing in one of the country's best leagues.
Nadir Tharpe, Guard, Jr.: Tharpe might not have held the spotlight last year like some of his former teammates did, but he came off the bench to give Kansas a huge lift. He ranked third in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio and is the Jayhawks' leading returner in assists and steals per game. Tharpe should provide an experienced presence to a young Kansas backcourt.
Tarik Black, Forward, Sr.: Black transferred to the Jayhawks from Memphis and will be eligible to play immediately. He has been named the Big 12 newcomer of the year and with good reason: With the Tigers, Black played in 31 games, averaging 8.1 points and 4.8 rebounds. He also led Conference USA in field goal percentage two years in a row and should be a reliable veteran in the Jayhawks' frontcourt.
Perry Ellis, Forward, So.: Ellis is another local product and is the Jayhawks' leading returning scorer (5.8 points per game) and rebounder (3.9) despite starting just three games. He came to Kansas with high expectations after leading his high school to four consecutive state championships.
Off the bench:
Frank Mason, Guard, Fr.: Mason scored 1,901 points at Petersburg High School, second in school history behind some guy named Moses Malone. He comes to Kansas as a top 100 recruit who can score and pass from the point position. He'll look to distribute to teammates Wayne Selden, Andrew Wiggins and others on a roster filled with offensive options.
Brannen Greene, Guard, Fr.: Greene shined on and off the court in high school, amassing 2,000 career points while maintaining a 4.0 GPA and receiving an offer from Harvard. The cerebral guard brings a consistent jumpshot to Lawrence to highlight what is a complete game offensively.
Conner Frankamp, Guard, Fr.: When the state of Kansas produces a four-star guard, it's pretty likely that either KU or K-State will scoop him up. Frankamp is a three-point specialist who could also run the point. He is said to have a high basketball IQ and has drawn comparisons to basketball legend John Stockton. Not bad for someone who hasn't played a minute of college basketball.
Jamari Traylor, Forward, RS-So.: Traylor averaged less than 10 minutes per game last year, but that was still enough time to place him second on the team in blocked shots. He is a hustle player who would fit in with just about any team and should provide a spark off the bench.
Joel Embiid, Center, Fr.: Embiid will challenge for a starting spot and can earn one pretty quickly. He is a five-star recruit with a shot-blocking ability that served him well growing up in Cameroon where he played volleyball. The Kansas City Star says he has one of the highest ceilings of any 2013 freshman.