Take a look back at the day Andrew Wiggins became a Jayhawk.
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.
Kansas University freshman basketball guard Andrew Wiggins will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. today, at which he will announce his intentions to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.
KU freshman Joel Embiid, who like Wiggins is expected to be taken in the top three of the draft, will not be part of this news conference.
Wiggins has long acknowledged he’s a one-and-done college player. Nothing has changed entering this news conference, sources said Sunday night.
The 6-foot-8 guard from Ontario, Canada, addressed his emotions after his last home game as a Jayhawk, KU’s 82-57 Senior Night victory over Texas Tech,
“I am happy, yet sad it is my last game,” Wiggins said after scoring nine points with four boards in 23 minutes. “I’m thankful for everything. I’ve been blessed with a good team, great coaches and the best fans anyone could ever ask for.”
Wiggins, who averaged 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds for the 25-10 Jayhawks, recently rated his one-and-done season a “10” on a scale of 1-10.
“It did,” he said of his year in Lawrence exceeding his expectations. “(There’s) nothing like college, sharing moments with your brothers you’ll never experience again.”
So here we are at the end of the road. All that's left to do now is make it official, which Wiggins will do at Allen Fieldhouse on Monday next to head coach Bill Self, who likely will be sitting there with one heck of a smile on his face.
For all of the things Self does well, this is one of his more underrated areas of strength. Never does he make a young man's decision to stay or go pro about him or the program or winning. It's always about the kid. And even if Self really is sad to see a guy go, you'd never know it on announcement day.
Today's press conference is as much for Self and KU as it is for Wiggins. Sure, Wiggins has to make his intent to enter the draft official, but he could do that in a statement or even a phone interview. Having him sit in the Allen Fieldhouse media room one more time, in front of the Jayhawk backdrop, with all of the local media there is nothing but good news for Kansas and its future recruiting.
It'll probably last about 10-15 minutes and Wiggins will gush about KU, all he learned while he was here and why Kansas was absolutely the right school for him to choose. The best part about it is it will all be very genuine. Everything about Wiggins has been since the moment he first stepped on campus and I can't see him going out any other way.
Future one-and-dones will be listening and watching, and even if they're not, they'll surely read or hear his comments at some point in the near future. Whether they realize it or not, Wiggins' words will stick with them in some manner.
There was a time when these things felt a little strange at KU. People still held out hope that the announcements would favor KU and shock the world. These days, they're old hat, as common as listening to Self stress how tough winning the Big 12 yet again is going to be at the beginning of a new season.
Monday's announcement will favor KU, but not because a superstar is sticking around. It will favor KU because that superstar will say everything Self and the program need him to say on his way out the door — and he'll mean every word.
But in winning a ridiculous 10th consecutive regular-season conference championship with two potential one-and-dones, Self juggled both of the masters — developing pros and winning games — that guide every college coach particularly well.
Even if Embiid returns for another year (which wouldn’t make sense to anyone beyond him and the hardest core of hard-core KU fans) Self made important progress in the perceptions of many in the recruiting world. And what is more important to a college basketball program than perceptions in the recruiting world?
Wiggins and Embiid became close friends over the last year. They come from very different backgrounds but have much in common, most notably wild talent and similar world views. Self has signed AAU stars who didn’t take the “one” nearly as seriously as the “done,” but they weren’t Wiggins or Embiid. They welcomed Self’s pushing, grew from his coaching and each will leave Kansas appreciative of the experience. Privately as well as publicly, they will speak well of their year with Self.
That’s important, because Wiggins and Embiid will soon officially be former Jayhawks and ambassadors for the program. Their successes and failures will be KU’s successes and failures, both in fan pride and Self’s recruiting pitch. They are nearly as important going forward as they have been for the last year.
KC Star Mellinger
Andrew Wiggins is the clear No. 1 draft pick
Kobe Bryant is ready to be a mentor to Wiggins
Is Wiggins still the NBA draft's top prospect?
Chad Ford: Andrew Wiggins began the college season as the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft among NBA scouts and general managers. After an up-and-down start to his college career at Kansas, it looks like he'll end the season exactly where he began -- No. 1 on our Big Board.
Do Wiggins' numbers underrate his overall ability?
Ford: Wiggins has all of the tools NBA scouts look for in an elite prospect. He possesses extraordinary athletic abilities. Wiggins will come into the league and be a top 5 percent athlete. He's an explosive leaper, has an amazingly quick second jump, has speed and superb lateral quickness. The NBA is loaded with great athletes and few could hold up to Wiggins.
He also has terrific size for his position. He's a 6-foot-8 small forward with a 7-foot wingspan. Very few wings possess his size, and it gives him a distinct advantage on both ends of the floor.
Wiggins also is an incredibly fluid player. The game is effortless to him. Whether he's playing offense or defense, he can make unique plays without breaking a sweat.
As a defender, Wiggins is already one of the best in college basketball. He uses his length and quickness to lock down opposing players. It's rare to see a college freshman get the nod from his coach to guard the other team's most potent offensive threat. Time and time again Wiggins has completely shut them down.
What is an apt NBA comparison for Wiggins?
Ford: I think Wiggins has the most upside of any player in the draft. His physical gifts are unteachable. His defensive potential is off the charts and while his offense still needs polish, all of the weaknesses in his game are fixable.
I've been using the comp of a young Paul George all season.
ESPN Chad Ford ($)
On May 18, four days after a certain Ontario boy signed with Kansas, coach Bill Self attended his daughter Lauren's graduation from KU's school of education. The ceremony was held in Allen Fieldhouse, and the dean, Rick Ginsberg, had asked the 2013 grads to submit, on index cards, their most embarrassing moments and greatest regrets. Among the statements he mentioned was, "Not being around to see Andrew Wiggins play for the Jayhawks."
Dang! Self thought when he heard that. Even if it might be a joke ... even though the 18-year-old from Thornhill, outside Toronto, who had played for Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, was the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2013 ... and even though he's the likely No. 1 pick in the '14 NBA draft. This is commencement! And the kid hasn't even made a basket!
On June 15 the 6'8", 200-pound Wiggins emerged from a gate at Kansas City International Airport to find 15 fans waiting for his autograph. His itinerary had been posted on a message board. One 21-year-old journalism major at Southeast Missouri State had a blue KU jersey with the number 22-even before Wiggins had received his own-because it was available to purchase in multiple stores in Lawrence. Four days later, when Wiggins made his first semipublic basket at KU, a soaring, fast-break dunk just a few seconds into a scrimmage in front of grade-school-aged campers, the play was on YouTube within hours and blogged about extensively.
The hysteria has only increased. Students have been Twitter-stalking Wiggins like tween girls obsessed with another fever-inducing Canadian teenage star. On the eve of Wiggins's return to KU for fall semester, in August, @EvanRiggs15 wrote, "Operation find Andrew Wiggins on campus is only a day away." Three people tweeted about being in his first fall class, and four tweeted about being in his second one, including @J_ST3W_K_C, who posted a photo of the back of Wiggins's head and the Raptors hat on his lap. So much for privacy laws or personal space: On Sept. 5, @Aly_Bauer tweeted about grabbing Wiggins's butt. There were other tweets about spotting him at Walmart, walking with him during a fire drill and delivering him a late-night pizza.
"I'm used to the attention by now," Wiggins says. But if you think he basks in it, consider that he tried to hold his college decision ceremony without any media present, his favorite nonbasketball activity is playing Call of Duty and his Twitter bio says he's "Just a average kid trying to make it." It's an endearing line from someone whose personality could be characterized as Unassuming Canadian, but still: C'mon!
"I used to be an average kid, when I put that up," he insists. "But that ... was a while ago."
…Wiggins has a 44-inch vertical; his one- or two-dribble moves to the rim (often with a spin) are more explosive than those of many small forwards in the NBA, and he has the tools to be a lockdown defender. Kansas video coordinator Jeff Forbes has Wiggins studying Durant's scoring possessions. He says that while Wiggins is soft-spoken, "he picks up things really fast. He immediately noticed how fluid Durant's footwork was coming off screens and how he reads defenses." But holding Wiggins to a Durant-at-Texas standard is unwise due to the kid's tendency to coast. During a recent workout Self had to yell, "Come on, Wiggs! Let's see if you're the best player on the floor!" because he spent 20 minutes blending in. Self had told Wiggins when he arrived in June that although he had yet to earn anything, "if you handle this right, you could potentially have everything you ever dreamed of and go down as one of the most loved athletes to ever come through this university."
The notion of what Andrew Wiggins could be, if he can cultivate a relentlessness to pair with his talent, is why he is being received differently-even at a school that's won nine straight regular-season Big 12 titles and has two other potential first-rounders in guard Wayne Selden and center Joel Embiid. Even in a college town that's seen this already, twice.
…The recruitment of Andrew Wiggins was defined by his silence. As a decision-maker he described himself as "independent"-determined to make up his own mind, with no need for constant interaction with reporters or even recruiters.
"I wouldn't really talk to college coaches," he says.
Even the ones on your short list?
"Not any of them. I wanted to enjoy my last high school memories."
Thus his story played out according to the social-media age equation of high-traffic topic + silent subject = much misinformation. Around the time Wiggins reclassified from a junior to a senior, in October 2012, it was widely assumed that he was going to either Florida State or Kentucky. The truth? "I was wide open," Wiggins says, "but no one else was recruiting me."
The No. 1 prospect in the world, with seven months left before his decision day, had to ask his Huntington Prep coach, Rob Fulford, to inform teams that he was open to being pursued-provided they were open to a one-sided relationship.
Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend happened to be in Huntington on the day Wiggins officially reclassified and told him that the Jayhawks-who were likely to lose most of their lineup, including star freshman scorer Ben McLemore-wanted in on the hunt. Wiggins said he didn't know much about Kansas but would consider visiting. Townsend had to cling to this small indication of interest.
Reticence, like athleticism, runs in the Wiggins family: In a 1984 interview that discussed Mitchell's falling out at Clemson, his first college stop, he said, "Part of the problem I had was that I was so quiet, you couldn't get a whisper out of me, and I was so shy, I couldn't even look [coach] Bill Foster in the eye when he was talking to me." And in a recent Toronto Sun story about Marita, a former teammate said that despite being a fierce competitor, "she was very quiet, still is very quiet and very unassuming." Marita did not respond to interview requests for that piece or this one.
The Wigginses told KU coaches that cellphone messages would get listened to, but that didn't ease their nerves. Self left Andrew one voicemail that said, "Hey, big fella, I know you don't want to deal with this, but it's getting down to crunch time, and if we're in the game at all, throw me a bone. If we're not in the game, just tell me."
They were in the game enough to earn Wiggins's fourth and final campus visit, after Florida State (which shrewdly secured the first one, in December, by honoring Mitchell's and Marita's careers in a halftime video presentation), Kentucky and North Carolina. The Jayhawks hosted Wiggins on March 4, arranging for Marita to meet famed track coach Stanley Redwine, selling the school's own hoops history, and arguing that they had the best personnel and system to showcase Wiggins.
The Wigginses sat behind KU's bench for a 79-42 blowout of Texas Tech, and it was no coincidence that the game plan was heavy on ball screens and lobs, with point guard Elijah Johnson throwing six alley-oops in the first half. Says Self, "We did the things that gave us the best chance to win and were along the lines of what the family would like to see."
The Jayhawks looked for any sign from Wiggins. They were excited when he asked if he could wear non-Adidas gear off the court (they were the only Adidas school of his final four) and if he had to attend summer school: It meant he was mulling over the details. Self called Fulford on May 14, the day of Wiggins's announcement (and the 58th anniversary of Chamberlain's), to ask if he knew anything. Fulford was still in the dark, but said, "If what he's wearing"-Adidas shoes-"is any indication, you're in good shape." Townsend said that morning that he had a hunch they were going to get Wiggins, but Self was wary due to their lack of intel from anyone on the inside. He texted Wiggins to say, "Enjoy this, you've earned it," and was buoyed by getting "Thanks" as a response. As Townsend recalls, "Coach was all happy, like, He texted me!"
Even Wiggins's parents didn't know his decision until they arrived in Huntington the night before the announcement. His older brother Nick, a guard at Wichita State, didn't know either, but he had been hoping Andrew would choose KU, which would place him about 150 miles away.
When the big news from Wiggins's press conference was tweeted by Grant Traylor, a reporter from the Huntington Herald-Dispatch and one of just two media members allowed in the room, Jayhawks coaches' phones blew up with congratulatory messages. As they celebrated in their offices in Lawrence, Self texted Wiggins and his parents to tell them how excited everyone was, and that he couldn't wait to talk to them.
Self didn't hear from Wiggins for three days. "He was like, Coach, man, I've been busy, I've got a lot going on at high school. But I could tell he was happy."
To Wiggins, who will make his debut on Nov. 8 at Allen Fieldhouse against Louisiana-Monroe, Kansas basketball did not exist before 2008, when he watched Mario Chalmers hit his miracle three against Memphis in the national title game. Growing up near Toronto, Wiggins did not follow college hoops-he was a Raptors fan-and so on the subject of KU history he is nearly starting at rock and chalk. "But I'm learning," he says.
To him, Manning is the father of a teammate: sophomore walk-on guard Evan Manning. To Wiggins's father, Manning was someone he faced in the NBA on Jan. 25, 1990, when Mitchell scored 28 points for the Rockets-and hit two game-icing free throws-in a 102-101 win over the Clippers. (It was one of Mitchell's best performances in an abbreviated comeback following a 2½-season suspension for using cocaine, a career-derailing mistake that is now a cautionary tale for his sons. "My life was my life," he says. "A parent's legacy is to share all that with your kids.")
Chamberlain, to Andrew Wiggins, is but a ghost, a number on a banner hanging in Allen Fieldhouse's south rafters. He was unaware that Wilt wasn't eligible to play as a freshman. The idea of only appearing in scrimmages sounds so preposterous to Wiggins that he says, if that were still the case, "I probably wouldn't have gone to college."
If not for the NBA's age minimum of 19, Wiggins would already be a millionaire. He watched June's draft with his teammates at Self's house, and Wiggins had the surreal experience of seeing a childhood friend, fellow Toronto-area product Anthony Bennett, go No. 1 to the Cavaliers and then, in a live interview, anoint Wiggins as next year's top choice. ESPN's talking heads soon took to discussing his future. Wiggins had kept his college-commitment ceremony off TV, but he could not control that talk of an NBA tank-a-thon for his draft rights overshadowed the lackluster draft in progress. Wiggins tries not to think about such matters, and he confided nothing to his fellow Jayhawks. "You're just not going to get a reaction out of him, with things like the draft," fellow freshman Selden says.
The weekend before, Wiggins had flown back to Kansas City after a visit to Toronto, and on a connecting flight out of Charlotte, he had the joy of being seated next to the rare Kansas fan who did not know who he was. Debbie Yarnell, a law-firm secretary from St. Joseph, Mo., had overheard someone asking the boy in the black warmup suit a Kansas question at the gate, so she asked a few questions of her own on the plane, before getting his autograph on her U.S. Airways boarding pass. Whether he went to Kansas. If he played basketball there. Where he was from. How he got on KU's radar out of Toronto. Who else recruited him. What year he was going to be. And finally, "With the whole redshirt rule, which I don't understand, and Kansas being such a good program, do you think you'll get to play?"
To serious fans, this was an absurd question. Two partners at Yarnell's firm who are KU boosters had a huge laugh when they heard about it. But for Wiggins, who participated in this whole exchange without even offering his last name, was it any more absurd than being asked, before he has even made a basket at Kansas, if he can live up to the label of Best Since LeBron? Wiggins liked Yarnell's last question because it had nothing to do with hype or draft stock or the legacies of Wilt and Manning. The No. 1-ranked freshman in college basketball broke into what Yarnell describes as a beautiful grin, and then assured her, "I'll get to play."
“Pay Heed. The game you love began here. Respect those who came before you. Make their legacy your own. Because destiny favors the dedicated. And rings don’t replace work. In this game you don’t get what you want. You get what you earn. We are Kansas. Together we rise. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!