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When it was first reported yesterday that Kansas freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins has a ten year, $180 Million endorsement offer from adidas Basketball awaiting him the second he turns pro next spring, my initial reaction was that isn't anywhere close to what he should be expecting.
The $140-$180 Million suggested range sounded exceptionally high to me, and several sources at multiple brands have told me the same thing.
This isn't the first time that rumored deals have been exorbitantly exaggerated, as we saw similar overestimations when Derrick Rose was looking for his contract extension, but where did the headline grabbing $180 Million figure come from?
It all apparently stems from this alleged memo from adidas Group CEO Herbert Hainer, addressed blankly to a Wiggins representative, which Sole Collector has exclusively obtained below and has also confirmed to be entirely fake.
"There is a fraudulent letter that claims to be from our company offering Mr. Wiggins a contract. Any reasonable review of the letter would determine its lack of credibility," an adidas Basketball spokesperson told Sole Collector this morning. "Beyond this, we do not comment on rumors or speculation about potential partnerships."
The undated hoax letter, from a brand CEO to an amateur athlete, would undoubtedly be a major violation during the window in which Wiggins was deciding on which college he would attend. That should of course be red flag #1 as to the letter's lack of authenticity.
In the sports marketing world, an undated, unaddressed memo outlining a $180 Million offer with a $60 Million window range to an amateur athlete would never exist under any circumstance, let alone be hand-signed by a CEO. The brand has been aware of the hoax letter, and says it had been circulating around adidas "for months," according to an adidas spokesperson.
Andrew Wiggins will be a very good NBA player someday, but he's a long ways away. It's completely unfair to put the supposed prize of the 2014 NBA draft class in the same sentence as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant.
During one three-hour practice, Wiggins misfired on jumper after jumper, took plays off and was practically invisible. Sure, he showed glimpses of the athleticism that have some putting him in elite company with NBA superstars. He's been blessed with incredible talent -- the length, quickness and athleticism that few possess even at the NBA level.
But Wiggins eventually blended in during the practice last week. It wasn't the first time he's disappeared. In fact, Kansas coaches maintain that the 6-foot-8 Canadian has yet to be the best player on the floor in any of their practices thus far. To take it one step further, he's rarely even one of the best two or three players on the floor.
"I want to get him to start playing hard all the time and also playing to his athletic ability," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "He doesn't do it consistently."
NBA scouts who have passed through Lawrence told me that they are unsure why everyone has labeled Wiggins as the clear-cut No. 1 overall pick.
"I certainly wasn't blown away by him," said one high-ranking NBA executive. "He was just OK. Average. I'm just not buying all this no-brainer stuff about him being the No. 1 pick. I just don't see it yet."
The Jayhawks have talent. Make no mistake about it. There are two other freshmen, skilled 7-footer Joel Embiid and 6-foot-5 shooting guard Wayne Selden, who could play their way into June's NBA lottery.
But Wiggins is supposed to be the prize of a loaded 2014 NBA draft. He shouldn't just blend in; he should be dominating.
I saw James in high school, watched Durant as a freshman at Texas and have seen other No. 1 picks such as John Wall and Kyrie Irving countless times. Those guys dominated nearly every time out, whether it was practice or a game.
To be sure, I like Wiggins -- both as a person and as a player. However, the expectations are too high for him, and I'm not sure he can handle it. Durant was quiet off the court, but not like Wiggins. In the span of a 15-minute interview, Wiggins spent much of the time looking at the ground. It wasn't just me, either. Others who have interviewed Wiggins lately had the same experience.
But this isn't about his lack of interviewing skills. Wiggins' effort is inconsistent, and while he could get away with that at the high school level at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep and in summer ball, he won't be able to do it in college -- and certainly not in the NBA.
"Maybe he'll wind up getting there this season, but he's a long, long way off right now," said another NBA guy who came through Lawrence in the preseason. "He looks like just another player. I've seen him a few times in the past, and to be honest, he hasn't been off-the-charts any of those times. I love his athleticism, but I worry about his intensity -- as well as other aspects of his game. He doesn't shoot it great, and he's got zero aura about him. Again, I'm not saying he can't get there -- but people are making far more of this kid than they should."
Wiggins is a freakish athlete, but there are plenty of high-level athletes in the NBA. Josh Smith is a high-level athlete, but that doesn't mean he'll ever be an NBA superstar.
Wiggins is a mediocre shooter. I'd guess he'll shoot somewhere around 30 percent from beyond the arc this season. Although he's an elite athlete and has terrific body control, his ballhandling also needs work. Once he refines his handle, he could be extremely effective in the half court. Right now, though, he has difficulty getting by defenders in tight spaces.
Wiggins hasn't looked the part of a future NBA star, but it's still early.
…Embiid is a guy of potential. Remember, the 7-foot Cameroon native has been playing basketball for only a couple of years. He's extremely raw but has so much to work with. He's not only learning the game but also learning -- like Wiggins -- how to play hard on every possession. Embiid has a skill package that allows him to score in the post and the ability to step out and make shots to the 3-point line. That's what makes him so intriguing. He's not a big-time shot-blocker and probably will be a skilled power forward in time. Don't expect Embiid to put up huge numbers this season at Kansas, as he'll share time with Tarik Black and Perry Ellis, but he'll almost certainly be a high lottery pick because of his high ceiling.
• Selden used to be a power guard. I was concerned that he might wind up like former Syracuse guard Paul Harris, who was able to physically overpower guys in high school but wasn't able to do the same in college when others caught up. However, the 6-5 Selden looks like a different player than he did a year ago. His perimeter shot is much-improved, and he also has better court vision and passing ability than I ever realized.
Selden isn't a point guard, but he makes others better. However, his biggest strength is his ability to score in a variety of ways. Selden could easily make it a trifecta in terms of having three Kansas guys taken in the top 15 or so after this season. Selden has the highest motor of the three and possesses more toughness than Wiggins and Embiid.
ESPN Goodman ($) continues his agenda against Wiggins as #1
DIME discussion: Why didn't Andrew Wiggins just bypass college?
Naadir Tharpe considered it an honor to pose for pictures, sign autographs and demonstrate a few fundamental basketball skills to 450 Ladies Night Out attendees on Thursday night in Allen Fieldhouse.
“It’s really important to me,” Tharpe, Kansas University’s junior point guard from Worcester, Mass., said of the fundraiser for “Jayhawks for A Cure,” with all proceeds going to Lawrence Memorial Hospital and KC Cancer Center.
“My father (Ronald) passed away with lung cancer. Anytime I hear the word cancer, I know it’s a horrible thing. To give back and be able to help everyone, I think is important.”
Tharpe said the attendees at the fourth-annual event had “questions and pictures (on their mind) the whole time. The stuff you are watching now is fake,” he joked of a dribbling drill going on in the background.
“Half of them want to take pictures right now,” he added, laughing.
KU coach Bill Self and the players held a 15-minute question-and-answer session with the women before breaking into stations. Self had to smile at a question he has heard off-and-on, on his radio talk show during his 11-year stint at KU.
That is, “Will you press more this season?”
“This is such a great event. When you all leave, you will know more than your husbands,” he joked, leading into the answer. “We’ve never been a pressing team. We’re a pressure team. No matter what we do, we will not give up our core philosophy. (That is) I hate giving up easy baskets. When you press, you give up easy baskets. Once you get to the NCAA Tournament, teams have such good guards. You don’t really (fullcourt) press then. We’ll pressure more.”
…Self said it might help his young team to play before a big crowd during Saturday’s open scrimmage (9:45 a.m. to 11 a.m.) in Allen Fieldhouse. Doors open at 9 a.m. Admission is free.
About 800 high school and college basketball coaches will be on hand as part of Self’s weekend coaches clinic.
“Our guys will have to respond to game settings with people in the stands,” Self said. “We’re still so early into it. We’re three weeks into it. We’re doing OK. We’ve made some progress. The biggest deal was, so many people couldn’t get in for Late Night. This is a way those who couldn’t get in hopefully will have an opportunity to come now.”
Asked if he wants 16,300 in the building, he said: “If we’re going to open the doors, we might as well fill it up. I hope there’s a great crowd here. I anticipate there will be. I don’t know if we’ll get it full. I anticipate us having a pretty good crowd.”
KUAD Press Release Ladies Night
LJW: Ladies Night Out Photo Gallery
KUAD Photo Gallery
Ranking back courts against front courts is a tough thing to do because, technically speaking, a small forward is a front court player. That’s why we changed our list to top perimeter attacks; if a player will predominantly spend his time playing on the wing, we label it as such. That’s why you’ll see guys like Andrew Wiggins and Rodney Hood on this list.
Enough blabbering. Here are our top 15 perimeter attacks:
8. Kansas: We all know about Andrew Wiggins, and we all know about Wayne Selden. They’re both lottery picks. Where the question mark lies is at the point guard spot. Will Naadir Tharpe step up and be the player everyone thought he could be coming out of high school? Will Frank Mason or Connor Frankamp take that spot over from him? Full disclosure: We voted on these lists and I had Kansas at No. 1.
That said, I sat down recently at The Broken Egg in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., and put together my best backcourts in America. It was very difficult to differentiate them as there are so many talented groups. Also, when considering this list, several players could be classified as playing swing positions, big enough to be a forward but talented enough to perform at guard.
Because of Andrew Wiggins' versatility, I am putting the Jayhawks in the top 10. Naadir Tharpe will log more minutes and should excel with greater responsibility. Wayne Selden Jr. and Conner Frankamp are other diaper dandies to watch.
VIDEO: NBA.com Ben McLemore gives a tour of his new home
VIDEO: Rock Chalk Cardboard! Upper Deck discusses new KU trading cards
Let’s look at the coaches you’ve played for: Bob Hurley, Sr. in high school, Bill Self at Kansas and three NBA coaches, P.J. Carlesimo, Avery Johnson and now Jason Kidd. Thats a lot of history. Who’s been the toughest to play for?
Coach Hurley, maybe. I just didn’t understand his madness at the time. Being 16, 17 years old, you just don't get it until after you leave. Coach Self got me at 19, and at that point you think you know everything. My attitude was ‘I get it.’ Now that I’m in this next experience, I get why he was blacking out on me. It all makes sense as you get older.
Vibe interview with Tyshawn Taylor
Indiana Pacers have released guard Ron Howard and forward Darnell Jackson.
Digital Kansas Basketball Preview
Big 12/College News
Baylor freshman guard Allerik Freeman will miss the next six to seven weeks with a hand injury, Bears coach Scott Drew told CBSSports.com Thursday morning.
The 6-3, 205-pound shooting guard Freeman was a consensus Top 100 recruit coming of high school (Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada) and is expected to immediately enhance Baylor's perimeter scoring.
The timetable for the injury casts doubt on Freeman's availability for an opening stretch including games against Colorado (Nov. 8), South Carolina (Nov. 12), Louisiana-Lafayette (Nov. 17) and Charleston Southern (Nov. 20). The Bears subsequently open the Maui Invitational on Nov. 25, facing Chaminade in the first round.
Eli Carter and Will Yeguete are both recovering from injuries suffered in the spring. Michael Frazier II is being tested for mononucleosis. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin is still serving an indefinite suspension. Damontre Harris is working through a hamstring issue. And star freshman forward Chris Walker is still working to attain his academic eligibility and join the Gators in December.
As a result, Donovan -- a two-time national champion and perennially successful recruiter -- has found himself running practices with just seven scholarship players. He admits he has no idea what to expect.
"We have a lot of unknowns," Donovan said, "with our injuries, not having a full complement of players. ... I'd tell you today, if we had [all our players available] and we could start Oct. 11 fully healthy, then I'd tell you we have a chance to be really good. Hopefully we can get there as the season goes on. But we're not there right now."
That adversity has led Florida's players to adopt an incongruous new slogan for the 2013-14 season: "S.W.A.G." But it's not just about confidence or flash (or slightly outdated tween lingo).
"It means 'Strengthen When Adversity Grows,'" senior forward Patric Young said. "We need to strengthen as adversity gets more and more in our face. We need to stay together and be connected."
Louisville F Chane Behanan has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of university policy.
The Ole Miss Athletic Foundation plans to borrow almost $80 million to build a basketball arena and parking garage that could cost up to $100 million.
The College Board, meeting Thursday at Jackson State University, approved plans for the University of Mississippi to lease 8.3 acres on the west side of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium to the foundation.
The 9,500-seat arena is scheduled to be completed by January 2016 and would replace the 9,061-seat Tad Smith Coliseum, built in 1967. Ole Miss says the current arena is outmoded and worn out.
Is the ACC the best college basketball conference ever?
Jimmy Dykes sure he'll find the "it" factor at Kentucky's Midnight Madness
Big XII composite schedule
ESPN College GameDay Schedule
2013-14 Early-season events schedule
10/17/13, 5:00 PM
Flying out to KU later tonight.
Off to Kansas.. KU official this weekend. #RockChalk #KUCMB
My Late Night in the Phog videos, KU Alumni games videos, 2011-12 Border War videos, Legends of the Phog videos, KC Prep Invitational, & Jayhawk Invitational Videos and more now on YouTube