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Letters of advice for Andrew Wiggins


Editor’s note: ESPN.com asked former Kansas players what advice they’d have for Jayhawks freshman Andrew Wiggins. Keith Langford and Nick Bahe wrote letters of advice based on their experiences in Lawrence and playing for KU coach Bill Self, and are re-printed in full below:

Keith Langford (2002-05)

Andrew,

I'll start by saying that what I'm about to write are merely suggestions. I feel like advice comes from those that you seek it from, are close to you and have had your best interest at hand since day one.

Which brings me to my first point: keep your circle tight. I honestly cannot relate to the attention, media and scrutiny that you have and will face, but having had a taste of it at KU combined with an 8-year professional career helps me give insight. Seek the opinions and take to heart only the comments of those around you before anyone outside of Canada knew who "The Wig" was -- LOL, I'm sure that's not your nickname but it has a nice ring to it.

Let fans be fans -- passionate fans always toe the line between loving and hating their favorite player. Hopefully, you won't make the mistakes of me and my family paying attention to message boards, opinionated columns (with negative undertones), and lastly, but maybe most importantly, the positive press -- it can be a monster as well.

Humility in the face of negativity and positivity keeps you balanced. Don't be afraid to let the other guys around you shine. A year from now you and your family's life will change forever. Some of the people around you will end their rodeo as yours is beginning. That being said, just be aware that your word and your day-to-day interactions with your teammates is what those guys in the locker room will remember most about you. From what I get reading [kusports.com], you're already handling that extremely well.

Coach Self -- LOL Coach Self -- in all honesty, you will appreciate him so much more after you've left the University than when you arrived -- I certainly have. Just listen and take everything with a grain of salt, because lord knows him and the coaching staff will be laughing about all the guys that give them material during practices. (LOL I've given plenty!).

One thing I will say about him is he'll push you so much that when you're finished, you'll be able to go to a place mentally and be so tough that nothing will phase you. Lastly, make sure the relationship is good because the team you get drafted to may be so bad, hell, they'll probably hire him!

Lastly, be you on the court. You'd much rather have someone tell you to turn it down a notch than to turn it up. The expectations and pressure should only come from the young dude looking at himself everyday in the mirror -- the hell with what anyone else has to say. Keep healthy, be the best cheerleader on the bench at the end of games and, finally, thanks for leaving after this year because I like having my position as the 7th all-time leading scorer!

Peace my dude,

Keith


Nick Bahe was a walk-on at Kansas from 2004-05 before transferring to Creighton.

Dear Andrew,

First of all, you owe me $15 bucks for the glass I broke in excitement of hearing you committed last spring, but we can deal with that later. One thing is for sure, you made a great decision in choosing to play for Bill Self. And although I can’t offer much with regard to improving high-flying dunks (I never did much above the rim), I can offer some advice on playing for one of the greatest men I have ever known. To start, there will be certain practices that Coach Self will be all over you and he won’t let you off the hook. Always remember he is testing you, not picking on you. There is nothing Coach Self hates more than soft players and pouters. He believes that if you can’t handle him yelling at you, you won’t be able to handle the pressure on the court. And he is right. So if you focus every day on being the toughest player on the court, both mentally and physically, I promise Coach Self will love you. Toughness is his most prized characteristic. Ask him someday about Russell Robinson.

Someone once told me that potential is a fancy way of saying “you haven’t done anything yet”. The “hype machine” is in full effect with you. It’s both your best friend and your worst enemy. It’s your friend because people will watch you, but it’s your enemy because there will always be critics. They will test you. They will test your character and test your toughness. My advice: Focus on what you can control. You can’t control what other people say and write about you, but you can control what you say about yourself. Be humble in every quote. Why add to the hype? Give the critics no ammunition. Everything you say for the rest of the season should be about the team and about winning.

Speaking of the team and of winning, those two things should be the only two things you think about and care about until the season is over. Part of being the best player is being the best teammate. For Kansas to make another run at a national title, Andrew Wiggins has to be KU’s best teammate. Challenge yourself to push your teammates in a positive manner. Lead the team in high fives. I know that sounds corny but you have to lead the team’s unselfish attitude. I once heard Coach Self say that the best teams are unselfish in their thoughts as well as their actions. You must embody this. Tyler Self should say, “Man, Andrew is the best teammate we got.” Be conscious of the team’s state of mind. Make sure it’s always in a good place. You are the man on the floor. Be the man in the locker room as well. As a former walk-on at KU, I can’t tell you how important this is.

And remember this, team success breeds individual success. If Kansas wins, everything will fall into place for you. You want to be the Big 12 player of the year? Win the Big 12. You want to be the national player of the year? Win the national championship.

You are about to embark on the most fun year of basketball you’ve ever had. Allen Fieldhouse is basketball heaven. Soak up every moment you dribble a basketball in that building with Kansas across your chest.

I will be cheering for you!

Sincerely,

Nick Bahe