For someone who has said not to like all the media attention, Andrew Wiggins seemed as comfortable as ever Tuesday in front of friends, family and classmates at St. Joseph Central Catholic School in Huntington.
There was no waver in his voice.
There was no indecision.
There was simply a proclamation that the nation’s top boys basketball prospect would be attending the University of Kansas.
And the decision was his — no one else’s to make.
“The other schools were great, but Kansas had my heart,” Wiggins said as he sat relaxed in Huntington Prep head coach Rob Fulford’s office following the ceremony. “That’s it. I followed my heart.”
...He stayed true to his word, having a small, much more intimate ceremony with only people from the Huntington area and his family attending.
And he certainly enjoyed the day, as evidenced by the beaming smile that never left his face.
“I didn’t really want to open up to the public,” Andrew Wiggins said. “I knew it would be jam-packed in here and I wouldn’t have the people I appreciate just watching.
“I wanted the people that appreciate me and the people I appreciate to be here watching while I made my decision because they are the ones who helped me out throughout the last two years and my mom and dad throughout my lifetime. I didn’t really want a lot of random people here. I wanted more people I knew.”
Not only did the ceremony fit Wiggins’ style, but so does Kansas, according to his father, who had spoken to his son about Kansas and why he was choosing them over his alma mater, Florida State. Mitchell Wiggins said the Seminoles were No. 2 out of the four teams.
“They run a lot of pick and-roll, pick-and-pop — a lot of stuff as he goes to the next level, he’s already ready for,” Mitchell Wiggins said. “The system was probably the biggest thing and the coach. (Kansas) Coach (Bill) Self is a very good coach and Andrew had a good feel for him. I think it’s going to be a great fit.”
VIDEO: WSAZ 6pm News Report on Wiggins
Herald-Dispatch Photo Gallery of Signing Ceremony
Herald-Dispatch Photo Gallery of Wiggins in Huntington
@22wiggins It's been a blessing watching you grow and mature. What's even more special is the way you… instagram.com/p/ZTGz8GqiXs/
Jahlil Okafor on Wiggins: "Never believed it but ppl say Kansas doesn't want freshmen to come in, star & leave; Andrew will change that."
5/14/13, 4:41 PM
Happy to have @22wiggins as a part of the family! Great addition... #KUCMB
5/14/13, 7:20 PM
@22wiggins welcome bro hold it down !
Kansas is now 10-1 to win the national title, second only to Kentucky. Jayhawks were 25-1 yesterday
The ATL Tipoff Club is proud to have honored two great young men! 2013 Naismith HS POY @22wiggins joins Mr GA BBall @b_greene14 & @KU_Hoops
All smiles for @22wiggins as he spoke with @JRaby_AP and I following the announcement.
Best part was looking in @22wiggins eyes during the interview & being able to see he was happy & confident that he'd made the right choice.
The state of Kansas will have @Wiggys_WORLD15 and @22wiggins in the same state next year.
AUDIO: Coach Self on The Doug Gottlieb Show Tuesday afternoon
VIDEO: ROME discusses Wiggins' decision with Bruce Feldman and Jim Trotter
VIDEO: Rivals' Eric Bossi analyzes Wiggins to Kansas
On Tuesday afternoon, the best high school basketball player on the continent -- the most hyped prospect since LeBron James, and probably the best, too -- proved he is possessed of not only otherworldly basketball gifts but also a preternatural ability to keep the world from knowing a singular piece of information.
Wiggins' parents, both former Florida State athletes, were reportedly in the dark as late as Tuesday morning. Even the Kansas coaching staff could do little more than cross its communal fingers until the final phone call. According to ESPN senior recruiting analyst Dave Telep, the Jayhawks not only didn't know; they hadn't even been in "much contact recently" with the player who, in the matter of a few words in a West Virginia gym, would morph KU from a promising but inexperienced group into one that will compete for the 2014 national title.
…Indeed, the only thing more impressive than the kid's public relations discipline might be his ability on the basketball court. At 6-foot-7, 205 pounds, Wiggins melds the skills and grace of a guard with the power and size of a forward. He isn't just an athletic specimen who can do things like this (although I highly recommend you spend the rest of your afternoon with Wiggins dunks on YouTube); he's also a speedy, tightrope ball handler with court vision and a consistent perimeter shot. Scouts believe he could play the 2, 3 or 4 at the college level; he will be every opponent's matchup nightmare no matter where he lines up.
…If any player in the one-and-done era is destined to live up to his immense hype, it's this one. Self is too good a coach not to maximize his eight months with the future No. 1 overall pick, too savvy and too ruthlessly competitive not to modify his system wherever and whenever he should. Wiggins is too versatile and too overwhelming to fall flat. Whether Maple Jordan is a generational talent, an NBA All-Star or merely very good remains to be seen. The number of NBA teams already planning how best to tank their own 2013-14 seasons should give you some indication, but anything could happen. You never know.
VIDEO: ESPN Telep on Wiggins' Decision
On his Twitter page, @22wiggins, Andrew Wiggins says that he is "Just a average kid trying to make it."
My niece is an average kid. She has 384 followers.
Wiggins has 80,000 followers and counting, mostly because on the basketball court he is anything but average. In fact, he is freakishly amazing, a generational talent ranked the top player in his recruiting class.
On Tuesday, the average kid declared that he would play at Kansas. He did it quietly -- no television appearance, no grand gestures of tinkering with various ball caps before making his choice.
That didn't stop the news cycle from churning out thousands of words (this column included) about his decision, following up on the tens of thousands of words written in advance of his decision.
…Now that we know where Wiggins is headed and the party has officially commenced in Lawrence, we can move on to the next phase of the Andrew Wiggins Experience: seeing whether he can live up to the hype.
Which is, of course, preposterous. He would have to be a mad scientist's concoction of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James to complete the expectation-to-ability ratio.
That he chose Kansas, where high-profile players are typical, instead of, say, Florida State, where he would have been a cape-wearing savior, helps ease the burden to a degree -- but only slightly so. Within minutes of Wiggins' decision, the Twitterverse elevated the Jayhawks from a possible second-place finish in the Big 12 to conference winners and Final Four contenders.
…Wiggins was the last top-100 player to announce his decision, and he's been chided in some circles for dragging things out.
But shouldn't he take his time with this decision? It's a big one. High school seniors all across the country wrestled with their college choices, some waiting until the day before deposits were due to make their pick. That's how it should be. Whether Wiggins goes to college for one year or four, it's his future.
Yet by waiting and making a deliberate decision, Wiggins has singled himself out from the pack for more scrutiny. A year ago, Sports Illustrated tabbed Jabari Parker the best high school player since James. Parker announced he'd go to Duke in December.
No one's talking about Parker anymore, except to point out that he and the Blue Devils will play Wiggins and the Jayhawks next season in Chicago.
Watching Wiggins and Selden running the wings on the break in Allen Fieldhouse will be a scary sight for opponents. If KU fans thought Ben McLemore was exciting in transition, wait until they get an up-close look at Wiggins, who often appears to be looking down at the rim on finishes. This class has it all: length, elite athleticism, strength, skill, upside and a number of immediate impact players. Once Self and his staff get this recruiting class on the same page -- look out.
…He is a coast-to-coast threat after securing a defensive rebound, and he attacks the rim from the wing and along the baseline with an excellent first step in half-court action. His physical frame allows him to draw fouls in the lane, score through contact or simply elevate and finish over nearly any defender. He can spot up for kick-out 3s and will knock it down when his feet are set.
In transition, he will sprint the floor for easy baskets or rebound and ignite the break with a bust-out dribble. In the half-court set, Self can run Wiggins off screens leading to curls in the lane, or create isolation opportunities for him to attack off the dribble. Even when Kansas goes to its power high-low game, Wiggins will have space to operate. When Self posts Wiggins against smaller defenders, it will be no contest because of Wiggins’ ability to outjump his man to convert.
Wiggins competes on the defensive end as well, using his length and athletic ability to defend all three perimeter positions in switch-off situations.
ESPN Rankin ($) (Also video at the link)
While Wiggins heads to Lawrence as a potential top overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft and with a far superior resume (consensus No. 1 ranking, Gatorade National Player of the Year, among other accolades) than what McLemore had as an incoming freshman, Wiggins was wise to look at how his predecessor developed himself into a lottery pick during his tenure as a Jayhawk.
I believe one of the reasons he waited so long was to fully analyze the rosters of each of his finalists (Kansas, Florida State, UNC and Kentucky) to see which school would allow him to be the centerpiece, while also offering the requisite supporting cast to abet his national championship pursuit.
Ultimately, Kansas afforded him the best opportunity to do that. I truly think that McLemore's declaration to go to the NBA finally made up Wiggins’ mind. McLemore was the top recruit in an unheralded 2011 Kansas class that just sneaked into the ESPN final class rankings at No. 23, and he redshirted his first year after failing to receive academic clearance. In that year, he improved his game and became Kansas’ go-to guy, putting himself in serious consideration for the Naismith Player of the Year award this past season. McLemore, much like Wiggins, already boasted incredible athleticism but made a concerted effort to improve his jump shot and overall skills.
Wiggins already is viewed as a potential No. 1 pick, but looking at how Kansas made a top-5 player out of McLemore, Self’s staff could work wonders in preparing him for instant success as an NBA rookie.
…When you look at Self’s teams, they’ve always been one of the best in defensive field goal numbers due to their stifling man-to-man defense. With Wiggins and Selden guarding the perimeter, Perry Ellis defending the high post and Joel Embiid protecting the rim, you have a lot of power, length and ability to get after people on defense. All those aspects should better prepare Wiggins for his foray into the NBA.
ESPN Biancardi ($)
Q: Would Wiggins really be the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft?
Every GM and scout in the league with whom I've spoken believes Wiggins would be the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft if he were eligible. Every one.
"Noel is a really good NBA prospect. He's just not a franchise-changing player," said one GM whose team will be in the draft lottery. "[However,] Wiggins is one of the three or four best prospects in the last decade. He has the ability to completely turn around a franchise. All 30 teams would take him with the No. 1 pick if they could."
Q: Well, sure, he'd be No. 1 in this draft. The 2013 NBA draft is one of the weakest in memory, right?
"No," the same GM said. "In every draft since 2007. [Greg] Oden would've went ahead of him. If Kevin Durant couldn't beat him out, no one could. But Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis? Wiggins goes ahead of all of them. I'm not saying he'll be better than all of them. I'm just saying knowing what we know about them when they were in the draft and knowing what we know about Wiggins, he'd beat out all of those guys."
Q: Is any player really worth that much hype? What makes Wiggins so special?
"[Wiggins is] a lethal combination of crazy athleticism and skill," one NBA scout said. "There just aren't a lot of holes in his game right now. Whenever he's on the court, even the untrained eye can pick him out immediately and say, 'That guy is special.' Maybe not LeBron James special. But close to that."
ESPN ($) Chad Ford
There is a more specific kind of pressure, the kind Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg described to Andy Katz after Wiggins made his decision Tuesday:
"When you go against a guy compared to LeBron James, that's a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a lot of guys in our league," Hoiberg said. "The hype surrounding him is the main story. I'm sure everyone is taking note of that and the opportunity to play against him."
Allow me to translate for the unflinchingly polite native Iowan: We're all coming for Andrew Wiggins.
This is hardly a surprise. Every college player in the country knows who Wiggins is. They know what people say about him. They've heard the comparisons. They know he's already a near-lock to go No. 1 in the 2014 NBA draft. No one is going to be scared. Most are going to be convinced they're better than Wiggins, that all of their hard work and college basketball experience adds up to more than his talent. Any team with Kansas on its schedule just got an extra reason to put a bull's-eye on the Jayhawks' back.
This is nothing new for Kansas, of course, and it's nothing new for Wiggins, who has been the best player on the court in every possible setting -- the target of other players' attempts to boost their own profile at every recruiting event and high school game -- for as long as he can remember. But college basketball isn't easy for even the most talented freshmen. Imagine how much harder it must be when every single player in the country wants to prove you aren't as good as everyone seems to think you are.
That is the challenge Wiggins faces in 2013-14. It's not just high expectations and scrutiny from fans. It's not just about accomplishing as much as possible in a short period of time. It's about playing an entire freshman season with a target on your back, about being specifically challenged by every opponent every time you put on a uniform. It's the pressure of taking everyone's best shot every night. It's the peril of superstardom.
When I saw Bill Self at the Final Four in Atlanta, I speculated that it was down to Florida State and Kentucky for the top player in the Class of 2013, Andrew Wiggins.
"We're still in it," the Kansas coach replied.
That was all Self could say, by NCAA rules, but he said enough. The confidence in his voice was not just false bravado. He believed the Jayhawks had a good chance at landing the 6-foot-7 wing player from Toronto by way of Huntington (W.Va.) Prep.
…By Monday, word on the hoops grapevine was that Kansas looked like the choice. By Tuesday morning, when Kentucky coach John Calipari started tweeting about his team's grade-point average, it appeared certain the Wildcats were out. But nobody on the outside was certain what Wiggins would do until the news was broadcast to the Twittersphere, courtesy of Huntington Herald-Dispatch writer Grant Traylor – the only reporter invited to the school.
By modern standards, this was a shockingly publicity-free recruitment. Wiggins all but went underground, and those close to him persuasively claimed not to know anything. So it was hard for the recruiting media (a 21st-century phenomenon in its own right) to know where Wiggins was leaning.
…How he handles the burden remains to be seen. But Kansas will welcome that burden and everything else that comes along with Andrew Wiggins when he arrives in Lawrence. After many people were counting him out, Bill Self got his man yet again.
Yahoo Forde (Video at the link)
Suddenly, new starting point guard Naadir Tharpe doesn't have to work as hard to initiate the offense and can focus on making sound decisions. Suddenly, promising sophomore forward Perry Ellis doesn't have to be the No. 1 scoring option and can remain a complementary scorer. And suddenly, McDonald's All-American Wayne Selden and the rest of the freshmen can ease their way into their college careers instead of being needed to emerge as impact players immediately.
That Wiggins chose Kansas is a tremendous coup for a Jayhawks program that had to make up ground late to land him. Though the proximity of older brother Nick Wiggins at Wichita State probably helped Bill Self's cause, he still didn't have as many advantages as some of Wiggins' other suitors had.
…Older brother Nick Wiggins said at the Final Four he gets asked where Andrew is going to school at least a few times a day. Host mother Lesley Thomas had to ask her kids to stop asking Wiggins about it because she wanted her house to be a safe zone. And Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford has sometimes had to turn off his phone or screen his calls because he has been bombarded with so many questions about Wiggins.
All the digging by fans, friends and reporters led to few answers. Not only were the college coaches in question in the dark about his decision Tuesday morning, even those in his inner circle were left guessing until he sat down alongside his family at a table in his high school gym and shared that he intended to be a Jayhawk.
Once Wiggins made his announcement and the stress of a laborious decision-making process was finally off his shoulders, those in the room with him said he smiled as wide and carefree as they had seen him in a longtime.
Only in Lawrence, Kansas were the grins any bigger.
"Everyone last year was trying to figure out a way to get him next year," a longtime NBA scout and ex-player told Yahoo! Sports. "Teams are plotting and preparing for when he gets out of school. Character. Demeanor. Athleticism. Coachable. He makes the game look like it's insanely too easy. While everyone is sweating, he isn't and he jumps over your head. The total package."
A little more than a year ago, Chicago high school star Jabari Parker was viewed as the top recruit in the class of 2013. But that changed when the 6-foot-7 Wiggins stole the spotlight at the annual Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore., last year.
The Hoop Summit pits the top 10 American high school players against 10 elite international teens. The alumni list includes Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki and Tony Parker since the event's inception in 1995. The Americans, led by UCLA-bound swingman Shabazz Muhammad, were expected to win the 2012 Hoop Summit, but Wiggins stole the show with 20 points, two assists, seven rebounds and two steals to lead the World Select team to a surprising 84-75 triumph. The Toronto native also had 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists as the World Select team beat the U.S. again 112-98 in last Saturday's Summit.
"[Muhammad] was viewed as the No. 1 player in the country [in 2012] and me playing well showed I could play with the best when I was that young," Wiggins said. "I've enjoyed and don't mind the attention. It's something I've gotten used to the past couple of years."
…One NBA general manager told Yahoo! Sports that Wiggins might be the No. 1 pick in this year's draft if he were eligible.
"The athleticism. The ability to get from Point A to Point B with his speed and quickness," the GM said. "He finishes above the rim. I love his composure. Love his poise on the floor."
In October, Wiggins, who at the time was a member of the 2014 recruiting class, decided to reclassify into his original 2013 class because he felt he was ready for the academic and athletic challenges.
…Wiggins has the ability to own dual Canadian-American citizenship, but he cannot play for the United States' national team because he has already played for Canada internationally. Frankly, he prefers it that way.
"I'd never want to turn my back on my country like that," Wiggins said of Canada. "That's where I'm from. I have good times here. The program treats me right. USA already has a name for itself as a basketball country. Canada has not really established that yet. I want to be one of the reasons why we establish that."
Sonny Vacarro on @610SportsKC says @CoachBillSelf "took words out of my mouth, compares @22wiggins to Tracy McGrady, George Gervin #NEXT
AUDIO: Coach Townsend on 810WHB
VIDEO: Louisville CJ talks with Wiggins after his announcement
VIDEO: Coach Self on the Tim Brando Show
Mario Chalmers, like everyone else, wasn’t sure where Andrew Wiggins would go.
The Canadian-born prep star was choosing between Florida State, Kentucky, North Carolina and, the university that has retired Chalmers’ jersey, Kansas.
“Welcome to the family,” Chalmers said.
Wiggins said he had the best connection with Kansas coach Bill Self.
“That’s just the person Coach Self is,” Chalmers said. “He’s a players’ coach, he’s going to have your best interests at heart, and he’s going to do whatever he can for you.”
For Wiggins to get his jersey hung near Chalmers’, he will need to stay more than one season.
Wiggins spent some time with Heat players following a game earlier in this season in Toronto, but Chalmers wasn’t one of them.
“I’m sure I’ll meet him when I go back this summer,” Chalmers said.
Naturally, since Wiggins will need to meet all the Kansas legends.
“Yeah,” Chalmers said, smiling.
Palm Beach Post
2. What will this do to Kansas’ style of play for this season?
There will be a number of questions to answer, but defensive excellence is an annual thing at Kansas. Per KenPom.com, the Jayhawks have ranked in the top 10 in adjusted defensive efficiency in each of the last eight seasons, and have been in the top four in defensive 2-point FG% in seven of those eight years. So while it’s easy to look at Jeff Withey’s departure and assume losing his shotblocking prowess will hurt (and it does), Bill Self has established this as his footprint. With the various pieces at his disposal, this season shouldn’t be any different, at least once the team matures and gels over the course of nonconference play.
The offensive side of the ball has been where the Jayhawks have been more variable, with the last two seasons being relatively less potent (and moderately slower in tempo) than the two before that, where Self had the Morris twins, Cole Aldrich, Sherron Collins and other efficient offensive talents to use. Eyeballing both the inexperience and style of players Self will have at his disposal, you’d have to believe this team is going to run more and be very, very potent in transition. In the halfcourt, there likely will be a heavier move into earlier high and off-ball screening to create space for a team that may be better going to the rim than it may be shooting from the perimeter, at least when they’re challenged. This roster also should be better on the offensive glass than the last two seasons, getting closer to where KU historically has been under Self.
3. What does this do to the college landscape now?
Well, Oklahoma State has a problem, and the games between the Jayhawks and Cowboys are now absolute must-see TV. At the very least, with Self’s track record and Wiggins in the fold, Kansas now has to be considered the favorite to keep its league title run going. In the bigger picture, the Jayhawks are now a legit threat to make the Final Four, joining Louisville, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Duke, North Carolina, Arizona and others in what is an increasingly competitive and compelling list. If these teams come anywhere close to living up to expectation next season, it’s going to be incredible, and that’s without mentioning any surprise teams of the sort that make college hoops so much fun.
It also makes the Jayhawks’ incredibly loaded nonconference schedule that much more compelling to follow. Kansas plays Duke in Chicago in the Champions Classic, so now we get to see Wiggins and Jabari Parker square off (as well as Kentucky’s wunderkinds against loaded Michigan State — what a doubleheader!) right out of the chute. The Battle 4 Atlantis now has a cornerstone team. Games against New Mexico (in Kansas City), Georgetown and San Diego State, along with trips to Colorado and Florida all grow in overall watchability and competitiveness.
…Wiggins’ game, which like any prep player’s isn’t fully developed, will be picked apart by media, fans and scouts. He’ll be on national TV a ton. There will be comparisons to other elite freshmen and how they’re playing, and to the teams he snubbed and whether he should have gone there instead. He’ll have to deal with team expectations created by his own presence. There’s going to be a lot on his plate as he navigates his way through a high-level college season and, lest we forget, a college environment for the first time.
From a fan’s standpoint, though? We couldn’t ask for anything more. This freshman class is absolutely loaded and we may be seeing a once-in-a-decade prospect in his formative years. Much like we knew with LeBron and with Durant and with Greg Oden (pre-injuries), we know with Wiggins. We don’t know exactly what we’ll see from him next season, but we do know it’s just the start of what should be a sensational basketball career. He’s that kind of prospect, and it’s that kind of celebratory day for Kansas.
I'm not exactly sure when it turned into the wildest recruiting announcement Twitter has ever seen. But there's no denying the hour leading up to Andrew Wiggins' public proclamation that he'll attend Kansas this year was a lesson on the impact social media can have in elevating a story.
Don't believe me?
Just ask Grant Traylor.
He's a writer from the Herald-Dispatch in West Virginia.
He was the only reporter allowed to attend Wiggins' announcement.
"Congrats Twitter ... you all broke my phone minutes after his signing," Traylor tweeted about 30 minutes after the announcement. "Twitter app is done. LOL."
Traylor had 1,962 followers on Twitter two days ago. Then it was learned that he'd be the first reporter to know Wiggins' college destination, at which point his follower account ballooned to 17,800, and each 140-character burst of information was treated as breaking news. Literally everything Traylor tweeted was retweeted hundreds, if not thousands, of times. My favorite was a picture Traylor posted of Wiggins and his mother walking into the gym at Huntington Prep that featured Jesus Christ himself photobombing because, honestly, why wouldn't JC make an unscheduled appearance?
It was that kind of day.
This recruitment that started as a battle between Florida State (because of his parents' connection to the school) and Kentucky (because it's Kentucky) ultimately swung to Allen Fieldhouse, the latest example of Bill Self out-maneuvering his old boss Leonard Hamilton. Within minutes of the announcement, countless fans who don't spend their days pulling for KU attacked. They tweeted at Wiggins to express their disappointment by telling him they hope he does everything from "tear his ACL" to "die in a plane crash." Some also wanted him to "burn in hell" because, in their opinions, he's a "bitch" who is "fu--ing retarded" and a "piece of sh-t" who should have his "neck snapped."
Andrew Wiggins is just 18 years old, by the way.
He is, by all accounts, a nice and respectful young man.
And yet this is how he spent Tuesday -- being told that he should die in various ways.
I could use the next few hundred words explaining why this is ridiculous, sad and embarrassing to college sports fans, if not the human race in general. But what's the point? Idiots are idiots. If it were possible to eliminate them from the conversation, we would've done it by now. So I guess my advice to Wiggins would be to get used to it. Because though he did his best to downplay this announcement -- no TV, no national audience, just family and friends and one reporter from a local newspaper -- his stature in this sport combined with the buildup to his unusually late announcement made all of this unavoidable, and things will only intensify from here.
Yes, Wiggins is the nation's top prospect.
Everybody knows as much.
But it should be noted he's much more than that.
Every high school class has a No. 1 player by definition. But in the same way that all national champions aren't considered equals, all top prospects shouldn't be considered equals either. Point being, Wiggins is a special kind of athlete and talent. It's not unreasonable to call him the best prospect since LeBron James. He'll be our preseason National Player of the Year. He'll be the No. 1 pick in next June's NBA Draft. Between now and then, he'll be the biggest star in college basketball based on what he does and what people think he'll probably do years from now. Wiggins' mere presence will make KU the Big 12 favorite (again) and a legitimate contender to bring Self a second national title.
Kansas made up a lot of ground in the latter parts of Wiggins' recruitment after being something of an afterthought during the early stages. Self made a major impression on Wiggins, and he loved his visit to Lawrence. Wiggins has a chance to be the go-to-guy right off the bat, and he could be the missing piece between a borderline Top 25 team and a Final Four contender. Throw in the fact that Wiggins' brother, Nick, plays at nearby Wichita State, and it made sense for Kansas to put on the full-court press.
And it paid off.
Wiggins is immediately a leading candidate to be an All-American next season, as he is also the heavy favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft. Yes, he's that good. The 6-foot-8 small forward has the ability to play multiple positions, creating matchup problems all over the court. He's supremely athletic with great length, and he plays with smoothness in his game that separates himself from his peers. Wiggins can knock down shots from the perimeter, and is also adept in the mid-range. Of course, his ability to finish at the rim and attack in transition is also elite.
On the other side of the floor, Wiggins has the tools to be one of the best defenders in the country. His length and size enable him to guard every position on the court, whether on the perimeter or in the post. That's what makes him scary -- and so tantalizing. Wiggins has the ability to be a lockdown defender, but he has plenty of room to improve on the offensive end.
The basics on Wiggins:
DOB: Feb. 23, 1995 (in Toronto).
Height: 6 feet, 8 inches
Weight: 195 pounds
Stat line: 23.4 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.6 BPG, 2.5 APG, 2.4 SPG
Position: Combo forward
Awards: 2013 Naismith Prep Player of the Year and Gatorade National Player of the Year
High School: Huntington Prep School (Huntington, W.V.)
AAU team: CIA Bounce (Anthony Bennett, Tyler Ennis, Rathan-Mayes have also played for Bounce)
A year early. Last October, Wiggins reclassified to the Class of 2013. He was originally on pace to graduate in 2014, which would've made Duke's Jabari Parker the No. 1 recruit in this class. Why, it wasn't even a year ago that Sports Illustrated proclaimed Parker to be the best prep recruit since LeBron James. Now he's not even the best in his class. The Wiggins-Parker storyline is one that I'd like to keep an eye on, though. Both will be on teams playing with good Final Four hopes.
He doesn't like attention. No, it's true! And that adds to the irony of this. Wiggins has taken a really long time to decide, but he made his pick in relatively private quarters on Tuesday, signing a letter of intent while surrounded by family and classmates -- and just one media member. We should note that Kansas is a heavy college hoops media market, though. Wiggins will be stepping into a whole new kind of life a few months from now.
Skill set. Well, being the No. 1 overall recruit in this class and perceived as the best in a decade, naturally, Wiggins does so many things well. Watch the video below as proof. One thing that stands out to me: The kid cracks off the floor and adjusts his body to dunk with such ease. And he's a premier defender. The dunks get the lion's share of the video, but Wiggins will be one of the best without the ball next season, too. At this moment, defense is his forte.
He's not LeBron James. Just because he's considered the best prospect since James doesn't mean he has the same game. Wiggins most certainly doesn't, and no one (thankfully) has gone so far as to say Wiggins will be as good/better than James. He's a tantalizing athletic prospect with a natural feel for the game. Though his body has matured, his game has a ways to go before he's truly elite. James was better at this point than Wiggins is.
5/14/13, 3:00 PM
We know you're hype about @22wiggins v. @JabariParker22 @championclassic. We are too! Tix in sale in Oct
AUDIO: Telep on Wiggins
ZagsBlog Archive of all things Wiggins
Everybody welcome the newest member to the family @22wiggins ! Time to get to work
BIG Welcome to the Family @22wiggins let’s get to work and win all next year #KUCMB #KUbball
I just landed in Atlanta and found out Andrew Wiggins is coming to KU!!! What a great day!#RockChalk
ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK - KU now legit top 10 team with Andrew Wiggins!
Andrew Wiggins is another example that every school would take a player for one year if they could get him. Remember this is an NBA rule,” tweeted
Heading into the day, Kansas was likely second in Big 12. Now, Jayhawks are a Final Four contender. Wiggins effect
Welcome to the fam @22wiggins. ... next season needs to hurry up and get here
Congrats to Coach Self, staff and team. Wow. Welcome Andrew to the Jayhawk family. Rock Chalk!
Great day to be a Jayhawk! Congrats to @22wiggins on his decision. A great feeling knowing where your going to be playing ball!! #RockChalk
@jtheaps9 (Jake Heaps)
Congrats to Coach Self and staff on a great recruiting year!!! Rock Chalk!!!”
@22wiggins hey welcome to the family #rockchalk #kubball and #kufball
Over a month ago Huntington (W.Va.) Prep sophomore point guard Nevell Provo said that teammate Andrew Wiggins had Kansas No. 1 on his recruiting list. That came as a bit of a shock because the logic was that Kentucky and Florida State were the leaders for the nation’s top high school prospect.
However, Provo’s proclamation came true Tuesday when the 6-8 Wiggins announced he was going to Kansas and not UK, Florida State or North Carolina.
So why Kansas? Provo said at the time Wiggins had listed the pros and cons of each team on his recruiting list and Kansas was the clear winner. Norrie (Clevenger) Price, a Mercer County native and the host mother for Provo and Huntington teammate Montaque Gill-Ceasar, thinks it might have had more to do with Kansas coach Bill Self and his similarities to Huntington coach Rob Fulford.
“I think he absolutely loved Bill Self. I think if (UK commit) Julius Randle had gone there, there’s no question he would have been at Kansas. He really liked Julius Randle,” said Price after attending Wiggins’ announcement. “Honestly, I believe there was ongoing discussions as late as last night with his parents. He seemed very relieved and happy, so I am happy with him.
“I know he loved Self from prior conversations he had with my husband. My husband loves him (Self), too. His host mom said Bill Self was more like Rob than (Kentucky coach) John Calipari and that is how Andrew is. He is not a flashy kid. He is not about pomp and circumstance. He’s just a humble kid.”
…“I think those that were not close to the program did not know how much he liked Bill Self,” she said. “I would not have predicted Kansas because no one really had an idea, but it’s not a big surprise to me.
“I think the longer things went on, it probably hurt Kentucky. A year ago, it was Kentucky and Florida State. The more players Kentucky signed and then going through the all-star games, I just think too many things stacked up against Kentucky in the long run. I think if he had made a decision early, it would have been Kentucky. By waiting, he changed his mind.”
Some are speculating that Wiggins might not have had a warm and fuzzy relationship with twin guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison, two of UK’s six signees he played with in various all-star games. Fulford also coached the twins in the Jordan Brand Classic.
“I don’t think he really knew Harrison twins. I think playing in all-star games with them probably clarified things for him about them when he had a chance to be around them,” Price said. “But the biggest thing, I think, is just that he felt comfortable with Bill Self.”
Larry Vaught's Views
Wednesday seemed a lot like the day after Christmas to Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self.
“My birthday falls two days after Christmas. I always got underwear or T-shirts for my birthday,” Self said during an appearance on Colin Cowherd’s ESPN radio show. “This was better than a Christmas and a birthday present combined.”
…The signing of Wiggins, who chose KU over Kentucky, Florida State and North Carolina, classified as huge national news, hence Self’s appearance on various national talk shows.
Tim Brando of CBS radio asked Self about losing one top-three NBA Draft pick in Ben McLemore with another filling the void in Wiggins.
“The situation with Ben, he handled himself beautifully while he was here. He’s an unbelievable kid. We lose him. We should have lost him (after one season). He should go because he has a chance to provide for his family,” Self said on Brando’s show. “You wake up and have somebody like Andrew Wiggins step in to go with five other guys (in KU’s recruiting Class of 2013), and you are, ‘Wow. Did we deserve this? This is unbelievable.’ We’re all ecstatic around here.”
Wiggins has been praised for announcing in a private ceremony at his high school attended by just one media member.
“It drives me nuts. You spend a lot of time recruiting a kid, and a kid picks a hat (off a table), which is fine. It’s how TV wants to play it up to be a big deal,” Self said of signing ceremonies in which a top high school player places hats of his finalists in front of him and puts the hat of one school on his head, signifying the winner.
“You have schools that invest so much time, energy and money sitting there watching it go down and not have a clue because they (network executives) tell them (prospects), ‘If you tell anybody, we won’t have you on TV.’ This was the high school beat writer, family, friends, teammates ... perfect. I thought it was very refreshing.”
…“Comparing him to LeBron is not fair,” Self said. “From a physical standpoint, they are both about the same height. LeBron is obviously much thicker and bigger physically. Andrew is extremely long at 6-8. His wingspan may be 7-1, 7-2, and they can both fly. There are some similarities in that. Both are freakish athletes.”
As far as how Wiggins will be used ...
“We’ll plug him in and do a lot of things we did with Ben plus add a whole bunch of more things,” Self said. “I think he’s a slasher who can shoot. You can post him. You can play really small with him at the 4, which we probably never will do, and of course he can be your 2-guard, which is his natural position.”
Of Wiggins the person, Fulford said: “Unbelievable kid. I texted coach Self and told him, ‘Congratulations, you are not only getting a great basketball player, but even better person.’ It’s been an honor to have him here. He’s one of the most respectful kids you’ll ever meet. He gets a bad rap for not wanting to handle media, but I think the part of the media he didn’t like to deal with is over. He didn’t like to talk about recruiting, comparing colleges. Talking basketball, he’s fine.”
As far as Wiggins the player, the coach said: “He has off the charts ability. It’s unfair to compare anyone to (Michael) Jordan or LeBron (James). I hope people don’t do that and set him up. He has unbelievable potential. His future is very bright. If he stays healthy, he will have a great NBA career. But comparisons are unfair at this point.
“He showed up at Huntington Prep as an elite athlete; he’s leaving an elite basketball player. He’s gotten so much better in the couple years he’s been here. He has room to improve certain things. It will be fun to sit back and watch how he develops at Kansas and into the future,” Fulford noted.
…Wiggins played for the Canadian team that won bronze at last summer’s Americas qualifying tournament for the Under 19 worlds. The U19 Worlds will be contested June 27-July 7 in Prague.
The qualifying tournament for the FIBA World Cup will be Aug. 30-Sept. 11 in Venezuela. Wiggins said Tuesday his immediate plans are to take finals, return home to Canada to relax with friends and family.
“He has some desires, which I totally support 100 percent, of playing on the Canadian 19 and under team,” Self said. “Whatever he wants to do I’m cool with, as long as it’s a situation where he’s getting better. One of the advantages of being here (in summer) is for camaraderie and chemistry with teammates. If he has a chance to do some things from a worldwide competition standpoint, we’ll support that 100 percent. To have the opportunity to play for one or, even better, both teams I think would be a remarkable experience for him.”
“I’ve got a weight lifted off my shoulders. I can relax now,” said Wiggins, who will be playing one year of college ball just up the road from his brother, Nick, a senior-to-be at Wichita State.
“That’s another positive in going there. We talked about all the possibilities. My brother is right there with me. Wichita State is like an hour-and-a-half travel away, so I can be close to my brother. I just look forward to having fun (at KU) and competing,” he added.
Wiggins — the last ranked player in the Class of 2013 to announce his college choice — didn’t keep anybody waiting on Tuesday morning.
His press conference, which was scheduled for 11:15 a.m., started at 11:09. That’s when Traylor’s tweet came out, KU coach Bill Self and lead Wiggins recruiter Kurtis Townsend not immediately noticing that they’d won the biggest recruiting battle of their careers.
Recruiting analyst Shay Wildeboor of Rivals.com called Townsend with the news.
“Shay asked Kurt, has he heard? We said, ‘No, he hasn’t done it yet,’” Self said. “Shay said, ‘He just did it. He’s coming to Kansas.’ It’s how we found out. Everybody started running in the office saying it was out everywhere he signed. Then my phone started blowing up. I probably got 150 texts in 10 minutes.
“There wasn’t jubilation,” Self added. “It was kind of a surreal feeling. I was so happy. It was a humble happiness. I was so proud we were able to land Andrew. There were some high fives, but not that much celebration. There will be a time we do celebrate. Hopefully that’s after we win a lot of games next year,” Self added.
Self admitted he went to bed on Monday night apprehensive about Tuesday’s announcement.
“I didn’t think it was great,” he said of KU’s chances. “I kept texting him. I couldn’t get him to respond. In the morning I text him and said, ‘Hey man, have a great day today.’ He texted back, ‘Thank you.’ That’s been my limited contact with him in recent days because he shut it all down and wanted to think about everything. We had no communication with the family until after he signed the papers.”
…“I thought it was the longest long shot,” Self said, “at least when we first got involved and everything. The more we hung around, the more we felt he liked us. There was a little bit of a connection. Kurtis (Townsend) played a huge role in making sure that occurred.”
Self said KU caught a break in Wiggins visiting for Senior Day.
“He saw what this place was about,” Self said. “The game wasn’t a huge high intensity game (vs. Texas Tech) but he was able to see how the players are beloved here. After he left, I felt we were definitely in the game and had a shot.”
Wilt, Danny and Wiggins can’t be compared as basketball players because of their different styles and positions and because nobody can be compared to Wilt. But Johnson did point to traits shared by Chamberlain and Manning and to early signs that Wiggins might have them as well: class and humility.
“Wilt and Danny, really good people who came from wonderful families,” Johnson said.
Wiggins didn’t invite ESPN in for a news conference choreographed by the network, replete with baseball caps from all four schools facing the TV cameras. Great sign.
“It tells me a lot about him,” Johnson said. “He wasn’t doing it for the glory or for the attention the way most of them do it.”
Instead, he let a reporter who had covered him in high school break the news via Twitter.
“That’s very telling about what type of person he is,” Johnson said.
Throughout his recruitment, Wiggins appeared to think all the speculation about his college choice, all the importance placed on it, did not make sense. He seems to get that just because he happens to be really good at something that generates huge audiences on TV and in person doesn’t make him more important than heads of state.
Manning’s the same way and, according to Johnson, so was Wilt, who to that point was the most talented basketball player ever.
One sportsbook opted to not even post college basketbal future odds until Andrew Wiggins signed.
Another had Kansas as a 30-1 longshot a week ago and just 10-1 this morning.
Such is the impact the Canadian high schooler has had on college basketball and on college basketball betting.
"We were waiting on him to sign before opening these odds up," said Kevin Bradley of Bovada sportsbook. "He is the biggest impact player we have seen in a long time and he is an immediate difference maker on college basketball future odds."
Indeed, the decision by the son of former NBAer Mitchell Wiggins shot Kansas to second spot on the Bovada odds list at 11-2. That is just behind Kentucky at 5-1.
In addition to the improved odds on the Jayhawks, Wiggins was also the subject of a few college basketball props Wednesday morning. Bovada made him a -300 bet to be the first player taken in next year's NBA draft.
And his point-per-game over/under for next season was set at 18.
Bill Self knew after witnessing an emotional senior day that Andrew Wiggins was considering Kansas, even if the Jayhawks' coach was in the dark like everyone else while the superstar recruit made certain of his future.
For one thing, Wiggins saw on that visit in March just how beloved players are at Kansas, where icons such as James Naismith and Phog Allen have become deified.
Wiggins also saw just how many players were departing.
Four senior starters delivered farewell addresses that night. A few weeks later, star freshman Ben McLemore announced he would be declaring for the NBA draft, leaving the nine-time defending Big 12 champions looking for a bunch of guys to plug into the lineup next season.
Undoubtedly, Wiggins saw in Kansas a place where he could shine.
…"I felt like there was a connection," Self said, "but basically, he picked a good night to visit. He visited on senior day and kind of saw what this was all about, a game that wasn't a huge high-intensity game, but a game he was able to see how players are beloved here."
…"If anything," Self said, "it gets me excited to go to work."
Wiggins said the most difficult part of his decision was informing the three other finalists that he'd be going elsewhere. As for why he chose Kansas, well, he's keeping most of those reasons private, though he did say having his older brother Nick Wiggins at Wichita State was nice.
His father, former NBA player Mitchell Wiggins, said fit was also a big part of it.
"He liked their system. A lot of pro offence, the pick and roll," the elder Wiggins said. "The system is probably the biggest thing, and [Bill] Self is a pretty good coach."
Self is the first to admit he wouldn't be nearly as successful if it wasn't for his players — that's where it all starts, of course. But in luring Wiggins to Kansas, even Self acknowledged he's never coached another player like him.
"He doesn't really fit the mold of some of the guys we've had in the past," Self said. "He's a tremendous talent and a terrific kid. Probably an even better kid than he is a talent. We think he has a chance to be about as good a prospect as we've ever had."
“He is soft-spoken,” said Roy Rana, the Ryerson University coach who has 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.”
The hope is that his year in Kansas will help him get there. Wiggins is at the top of a loaded class of potential 2014 draftees, including Kentucky commits Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison, as well as Duke’s Jabari Parker and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart. Thanks to his superior athleticism, Wiggins is ranked the top prospect of them all, but he does not have a free ride to the top pick in 2014. He has never dealt with the consistent competition that he will face this year, and his jumper and work ethic are still points of concern.
In that sense, going to Kansas, where he will play with Cameroonian centre Joel Embiid and Boston shooting guard Wayne Selden, will help him. Kentucky will likely be the favourite to win the NCAA championship heading into next year, but Kansas will be very competitive. A dominant year for Wiggins would certainly help that cause.
But the main priorities are clear: avoid injury and avoid controversy. Those would have remained the same, no matter where he chose to spend eight months of his life.
Wiggins had long ago narrowed things down to four schools — three bluebloods (Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky) and a sentimental choice (Florida State).
In Kansas, he took the Goldilocks option.
Kentucky is too stacked with incoming freshman talent. Had Wiggins chosen the Wildcats he’d have created a Fab Five maelstrom guaranteeing blanket coverage for the next year. More than anything, what this kid needs is space to breathe, not new excuses for the media to pile on.
UNC isn’t quite as good, but still maintains the most pressurized atmosphere in college sports that isn’t football in Texas. Also, attending Michael Jordan’s alma mater would set the bar rather high.
Though both his parents attended Florida State, it has a depressingly average basketball set-up.
Kansas is just right — a historic program with a track record of shuttling youngsters into the pros; a powerful team, but not so oversold that it might overshadow him. Kansas is bigger than the player, but smaller than his ambition.
Kansas will know its role in all this — to take gentle hold of Wiggins and deliver him to his next team without breaking anything.
If there’s any significance to this decision it’s in the way it was taken.
The done-thing for a recruit of Wiggins’ stature is to announce his choice like the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Only 18, Wiggins is already an FOL (Friend of LeBron). He and his handlers learned something from that example about how acres of goodwill can be undone by one Caligulan pronouncement.
Rather than a big reveal, Wiggins instead chose to do it in his high school gymnasium in front of family and friends. There was no camera bank or pep squad squealing in the background. Only one reporter was invited — the local scribbler from Huntington, West Virginia’s Herald-Dispatch.
As soon as he tweeted out word, ESPN.com made it their top story. And not just one story. They posted five. They also re-released their pre-season top 25, bumping Kansas from the fringes to fifth overall.
Whether or not it’s true, Wiggins’ coaches told reporters that as of two hours before he announced his destination, he hadn’t yet told his parents. Kansas officials only learned of the choice when the words came out of Wiggins’ mouth. The overriding message: “I’m my own man.”
Wiggins seems aware that the three losers here were just as important an audience as the one winner. That’s heady judgment from a high-schooler.
He isn’t going to college to win championships, though he just might. He isn’t even going there to develop as a player. What Wiggins needs more than coaching is a quality trainer. The reedy 6-foot-8 forward can’t compete at the next level until he’s gained 30 or 40 pounds.
Everything else in his arsenal is already pro-rated. He is the best amateur player on the planet, and already one of the dozen-or-so best wings in the game.
Wiggins is instead going to Kansas on an extended promotional campaign. He’s there to impress upon NBA GMs that he’s as advertised, and that that quality extends primarily from character rather than genetics.
He’s also making a low-key sizzle reel for advertisers who can’t yet sign him. This is a job interview. Wiggins is the one holding the interview.
When he came up to Hamilton to barnstorm in front of a packed gym at McMaster in February, Wiggins was all shy reserve. He speaks in whispers, head tucked into chin. Someone asked him that day what he would like people to know about him.
“That I’m only 17,” Wiggins said then.
He’s age of majority now. He has next to nothing to prove in the NCAA. But the message is changing. He needs people to know that he is an adult.
In the way he hurdled all the stumbling blocks to making this first defining choice of his professional life, that message was amplified. The kid is a lot better than alright.
Baylor, nice try. Same for Oklahoma State.
Just when the Big 12 was ready to crown a new men's basketball champion for the first time since 1934, Kansas just had to step in and go all Kansas on the conference yet again.
In a highly, highly anticipated decision, top prep basketball prospect Andrew Wiggins said he will attend the University of Kansas to play basketball beginning in the fall.
Wiggins is listed as a 6-foot-7 small forward; he has been called one of the top recruits in the past decade.
HOORAY FOR KANSAS, and specifically the institution of higher learning and edumicashion.
This has to be KU's biggest name recruit since Larry Brown hired assistant coach Ed Manning so his son, Danny, would play basketball in Lawrence. Ed apparently was a dynamite coach.
Wiggins is the best prep player in the country, and he was attracting interest from every blue blood program in the nation. He picked KU over Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida State to play college basketball.
He may even attend class, although I don't why.
(* It should be noted that I am a KU undergrad alum, class of ... just very recently.)
This guy is so gone to the NBA this time a year from now the only classes he should be taking are How to Change My Cell Phone Number Every 15 Minutes, The History of Groupies and Entourage Studies.
KU could potentially have the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft - Ben McLemore - and '14 draft, Wiggins.
Both Baylor and Oklahoma State should have an edge in terms of preseason conference ranking because of the number of quality returning players, but the addition of a talent like Wiggins to Kansas changes everything.
Just prepare now for another KU Big 12 title.
Here's a look at the highlights of Wiggins' winding recruitment, from his roots in Canada to his big day in West Virginia:
August 2011: Wiggins, who had been a student at Vaughan Secondary School in his native Ontario, transfers to play for Huntington Prep in Huntington, W.Va. About that time, he makes his debut as the consensus No. 1 overall prospect in the class of 2014.
Sept. 24: Wiggins makes his first unofficial visit to Kentucky, taking in the campus with Huntington Prep Coach Rob Fulford and teammate Xavier Rathan-Mayes.
Dec. 3: Wiggins takes an unofficial visit to UK to see the much-hyped matchup between the Wildcats and North Carolina. Freshman star Anthony Davis blocks a shot in the final seconds to help UK secure a victory in front of a raucous Rupp Arena crowd. "I thought it was amazing," Wiggins later told Scout.com.
July 20, 2012: Wiggins faces off against fellow top recruit Julius Randle, with Calipari and assistant coach Orlando Antigua in attendance, at the Nike Peach Jam Finals in North Augusta, S.C. Wiggins outplayed Randle down the stretch, finishing with 28 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks in an 81-80 overtime victory.
July 30: AAU coach Mike George tells the Herald-Leader that UK and Florida State are recruiting Wiggins the hardest after both Calipari and FSU Coach Leonard Hamilton attend his basketball camp in Canada. George says that will be a big factor in Wiggins' decision: "It's who's recruiting him hardest. That's what counts. That's what he wants to see. If he's playing, you better have a coach there front and center. And it better be the head coach. And if it's not — you have a problem."
Oct. 13: Xavier Rathan-Mayes — Wiggins' longtime friend and teammate — commits to Florida State. Rathan-Mayes, a four-star shooting guard, has been mentioned as one of the reasons Wiggins might choose the Seminoles.
Oct. 22: Wiggins makes it clear in an interview with Scout.com that he has opened his recruitment to schools other than perceived favorites UK and Florida State. "My options are still wide open," he says. "People think they can dictate or know where I'm going, but they might be in for a surprise." Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio State and Syracuse are among the schools that express interest.
Oct. 25: Fulford announces that Wiggins will join the class of 2013. He is immediately listed as the No. 1 overall prospect in the senior class.
Nov. 18: Wiggins leads Huntington Prep to a 61-44 victory over Christian Faith Center (N.C.) at Scott County High School in Georgetown. The crowd of more than 2,000 includes Calipari, Antigua and several current UK players. "The atmosphere was great," Wiggins said. "All of the fans loved me and supported my team. It's a great place to play basketball here. People love basketball ... the desire for the game. So I appreciate that."
Nov. 30-Dec. 1: Wiggins plays two games at the Marshall County Hoop Fest in Benton, Ky., and averages 27 points and 13 rebounds in the two victories. There were more than 5,000 fans — many of them wearing blue — for each game. Among the spectators was UK commitment Derek Willis. "He's a freak. He's probably the best player I've seen in my entire life," Willis tells the Herald-Leader.
Dec. 5: Wiggins and his parents attend the Florida State-Florida game as part of the official visit to Tallahassee. The Gators trounce the Seminoles, 72-47, but Wiggins' parents are honored with a halftime celebration of their past accomplishments as FSU athletes. "(FSU's coaches) talked about the legacy," Wiggins told Rivals.com. "It's appealing. It's something that I could look forward to (if I went there)."
Feb. 7, 2013: Sports Illustrated publishes a lengthy article with the headline, "The Canadian Jordan, Andrew Wiggins the great hope north of border." The piece questions Wiggins' work ethic, mentions several Canadian prospects who have fizzled in the past and references his father's two-year drug suspension from the NBA. Later that night, Wiggins goes off for 57 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks, while making 24 of 28 field goals in a victory over the Marietta College JV team. Wiggins and Fulford said after the game that the performance was sparked by the "negative" SI article.
Feb. 25: Wiggins is named the Naismith Player of the Year, beating out fellow finalists Jabari Parker and Aaron Gordon for the honor.
Feb. 27: Wiggins and his parents attend the UK-Mississippi State game as part of their official visit to Lexington. "That was a good visit. It was crazy. The game I went to the fans were crazy. They're always crazy. My parents liked it."
March 2: A crowd at Boyd County Middle School in Ashland looks on as Wiggins scores 40 points in the final game of his high school career.
March 4: Wiggins and his parents travel to Kansas to see the Jayhawks play Texas Tech as part of their official visit to Lawrence.
March 9: Wiggins takes his final official visit to see the Tar Heels play archrival Duke in their regular-season finale. His parents also accompanied him to Chapel Hill. "It was a crazy experience," Wiggins said. "For some people a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see Duke and UNC go at it. That rivalry is crazy. I have a lot of family in North Carolina and my dad was born there. So it was good."
March 20: Julius Randle — who some services consider the best prospect not named Andrew Wiggins — commits to Kentucky. A couple weeks later, Wiggins is asked what his reaction was when he first heard of Randle's commitment. "I don't remember," he says with a smile.
March 27: NBA great Alonzo Mourning surprises Wiggins at his school with the national Gatorade Player of the Year Award, which recognizes athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character on and off the court.
March 28: The Hamburglar and Grimace stop by Wiggins' high school to acknowledge the player's selection to the McDonald's All-American Game. Standing in for Mayor McCheese was Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, who proclaims the date Andrew Wiggins Day in Huntington. Calipari also drops in on Wiggins for what Fulford later described as a "pretty informal, laid-back talk." It turns out to be the final face-to-face meeting with a college head coach during his recruitment.
April 2: Wiggins talks to reporters about his recruitment during the McDonald's Game media day. He outlines the positives of each of his finalists, specifically mentioning the appeal of playing with other top recruits at UK. "They'll all probably be superstars when they go to the next level. It's always good to surround yourselves with guys who you know are going to make it too."
April 3: Wiggins scores a team-high 19 points in the McDonald's All-American Game in Chicago, but his East team falls to the West, 110-99.
April 12: ESPN's Keith Jenkins tweets, "Source tells me Andrew Wiggins ... will commit to Florida State. Nothing official as of yet." Wiggins, who is attending the dinner banquet at the Jordan Brand Classic, responds almost immediately with a tweet of his own, "Lol if you ain't in my family you know nothing about my recruitment, lol stop with the rumors." Jenkins' tweet is later deleted.
April 13: Wiggins scores 19 points in the Jordan Brand Classic in Brooklyn. His team, which includes Randle and the Harrison twins, loses 102-98 to a squad featuring James Young, Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee. Wiggins is asked by an ESPN sideline reporter when he thinks he'll make a college announcement. "No clue," he says with a shrug.
April 20: Wiggins scores 17 points to go with nine rebounds and four assists in the World's 112-98 victory over Team USA at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore.
April 22: Twitter nearly breaks with the news that Wiggins has canceled in-home visits with coaches Leonard Hamilton, Roy Williams and Bill Self. The reason for the cancellations: Wiggins is exhausted from a grueling three weeks on the all-star circuit followed by travel problems getting back to Huntington from the Hoop Summit in Portland. Instead of face-to-face meetings, he talks to all three coaches on the phone before the end of the contact period April 24.
May 3: A Maryland seafood restaurateur with the Twitter handle Johnny Crabcakes posts a letter showing his connection to North Carolina Coach Roy Williams and declares that his sources tell him Wiggins will sign with the Tar Heels later that day. The tweets go viral. When the deadline passes, Crabcakes says he might be off on the timeline, but reiterates that "Wiggins to UNC is a done deal." Fulford responds to the Herald-Leader with incredulity: "I can promise you Roy Williams would tell me Andrew is committing before he did the guy that gets his crab cakes," he says.
May 12: Fulford tells several media members that Wiggins will make his college announcement May 14 during a private signing ceremony at his high school. Sticking with the theme of the highly secretive recruitment, Fulford says: "I have no clue where he's going or leaning, so I'm not much help here."
May 13: The predictions start rolling in, and the consensus seems to be Florida State. Among those who pick the Seminoles are ESPN's Dave Telep, 24/7 Sports analyst Jerry Meyer, Rivals.com's Eric Bossi and CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish.
May 14: Decision Day.