LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Count all the promising recruits Kansas landed, the abundant potential the incoming class brings and it becomes easy to understand why the excitement enveloping the Jayhawks is off the charts.
Then one realization sets in. As good as Kansas could be, it can play with only one basketball.
That is where Bill Self comes in. The 11th-year coach averages 30 wins per season and has guided the Jayhawks to nine consecutive Big 12 titles while going 35-14 in the NCAA Tournament. Self knows how to distribute minutes and find combinations to maximize the Jayhawks' talents.
"We are as deep as we've ever been. We've had as many good players in the gym as we've ever had," Self said. "It's a team that can play with more reckless abandon, especially defensively, because foul problems hopefully won't be as big a concern. I'm excited. We are talented, but by no means do we know how to play and by no means are we ready to play."
Depth must be measured in a system that never goes long into the bench. Combinations will be tested by a difficult nonconference schedule, which includes a Nov. 8 game against Duke in the Champions Classic. The Kansas lineup figures to include two immensely gifted freshman guards, 6-foot-8 Andrew Wiggins and 6-5 Wayne Selden.
Wiggins, the last piece in the eight-man recruiting class eligible to contribute this season, was ranked by most services as the nation's top prospect for 2013. He is a pure shooter who can also get to the rim with extreme athleticism. Selden was, like Wiggins, a McDonald's All-American, who averaged a double-double as a high school senior and could be the best first-year defender Self has had at Kansas.
The entire incoming class has expectations, Self said.
Options vary greatly for Self after the Jayhawks return no starters off a 31-6 squad that bowed in the Sweet 16. The lone returnees who contributed greatly last season, both in bench roles, are forward Perry Ellis and point guard Naadir Tharpe. Ellis figures to be solid after coming on late last season, but Tharpe will be pushed by freshman Frank Mason.
Wing Brannen Greene, center Joel Imbiid and long-range deadeye Conner Frankamp are other freshmen who could contribute. Tarik Black, a senior transfer, offers experience after starting three years at Memphis and playing in 102 games.