The best basketball prospect in years has made his decision. Andrew Wiggins, the 6-foot-8, 200-pound native of Vaughn, Ontario, has opted to join the University of Kansas Jayhawks. Now the real pressure begins.
It’s somewhat of a surprise that the 18-year-old small forward announced Kansas as his destination. Both of his parents had attended Florida State: dad Mitchell Wiggins played in the NBA in the 1980s and early ’90s as a guard for Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia, while mom Marita Payne-Wiggins specialized in sprinting and won two silver medals on the Canadian Olympic team.
He will be joining an already highly touted freshman class at Kansas, and he will arrive just in time for the Jayhawks as the team will be losing all of its starters from the senior squad which made it to the Sweet 16 of the March Madness tourney this year. Coach Bill Self will have to rely on the youngsters to plug the holes in his varsity team, and Wiggins should certainly help with that.
In his senior year at Huntington (West Virginia) Prep School, Wiggins averaged an amazing 23.4 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. He has been named the 2013 Naismith Prep Player of the Year and the Gatorade Boy’s Basketball National Player of the Year. He was also instrumental in bronze-medal performances by Canada in the FIBA Under-17 World Championship in 2010 and the 2012 FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship.
“He is soft-spoken,” said Ryerson University coach Roy Rana, who coached Wiggins internationally and at the Nike Hoop Summit. “But it’s not that he’s not assertive. He’s an assertive young man. When he feels strongly about something, he will let you know and he will stand up for himself. I think his adjustment will be fine. I think he’s going to step in to wherever he goes to college and have a great experience as a student and have a huge impact on the court. As he continues to mature he’s going to be much more confident in who he is and what he wants.”
Wiggins will need a strong sense of who he is and what he wants, now that he has thrust himself into the intense spotlight of U.S. college basketball: he’s already been called the best high-school prospect since LeBron James. If that kind of comparison doesn’t have a negative impact, then Wiggins ought to do alright.
It will be even better if he can help Kansas be competitive as he did with the medal-winning Canadian national teams. Kentucky is already the favourite for next year’s March Madness, and was one of the schools he apparently considered attending. His decision to opt for Kansas will be intensely scrutinized; here’s hoping he made the right call.