KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A little hype never killed anyone, Julius Caesar notwithstanding. Expectations? Expectations are a whole mess of fun. What’s Christmas without expectations? Columbus Day, that’s what.
All that being said, any chance we can turn the volume on the Andrew Wiggins chatter down just a teensy-weensy bit?
We know, we know. It’s June. You’re starving. Wiggins, the 6-foot-7, Canadian-born second coming of LeBron/McGrady/Dominique, reportedly turned up at Kansas for the first time on Saturday. On Monday, the freshman-to-be allegedly practiced for the first time, sight unseen from the press.
On Tuesday, things got crazy.
“Wow,” a KU “source” told CBS Sports.com’s Gary Parrish. “Like watching a video game. He’d be the No. 1 pick this year.”
Some perspective: The guy who might actually be the No. 1 pick in this month’s NBA Draft is former KU guard Ben McLemore, who atomized most of Danny Manning’s hallowed Jayhawk freshman records this past winter, then jumped for the pros.
With that, the alarm sounded. SNY.tv chimed in. So did Dick Vitale, via the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World.
Legends got passed, mouth to mouth, the way the Scots played “telephone” in the movie Braveheart while recalling the varied exploits of William Wallace.
When the story started in Eudora, it said Andrew Wiggins dunked on 50 men. By the time it reached Garden City, it was 100. And that he’d cut through them the way Moses cut through the Red Sea.
And, heck, maybe it’s true. All of it. Every last, rare, off-the-record morsel.
We’ve seen the YouTube videos. Type in “Andrew Wiggins” and more than 109,000 options turn up to kill the rest of your workday.
In just about all of them, he’s absolutely posterizing some poor schmoe. Or 10.
The other kids are little more than gnats, to be stepped on or hurdled over on the way to the hoop. Wiggins is a one-man, zero-gravity ballet. It’s like Man of Steel, only without the insane amount of collateral damage.
Wiggins is many things, but Superman, he ain’t. He wasn’t rocketed to Kansas from an alien world by a well-meaning scientist and his attractive wife. Well, OK, maybe he was rocketed — not from Krypton, but Canada, where he is the son of a former NBA shooting guard (Mitchell Wiggins) and a former Olympic sprinter (Marita Payne-Wiggins). Although, in either case, there does seem to be an awful lot of flying involved.
Hey, we get it. The Jayhawks of 2013-14 are an almost completely new band from the previous lineup, with Wiggins rocking the mike at center stage. You’re psyched. Psyched is good. Psyched is healthy.
Obsessed is not.
There are only three ways Wiggins can fail the Mount Oread crowd this winter. The first is by blowing out a hamstring at Thanksgiving. The second is by letting the inevitable spate of leeches and hangers-on drag down his game (and given what’s already been said about his family and inner circle, that scenario seems highly unlikely). But the third is that he somehow doesn’t live up to the Paul-Bunyanesque image so painstakingly crafted by media missives and fanboy dreams.
Just because Wiggins can touch the stars, it doesn’t give cause to assume that he’ll give you the moon, too.
He’s a kid. Kids are kids, however transcendent their skill set. Carmelo Anthony and Anthony Davis won national titles as freshmen. Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley didn’t. Even superheroes need help, on occasion, once the train leaves the station for Bracketville.
Don’t burden him. It’s a fine line.
“Oh, man, he’s a great player,” Myck Kabongo, the Canadian point guard from the University of Texas, recently told SNY.tv. “With Wigg, he’s talented, man. He’s one of those guys that comes every once so often. He’s done a great job with what he’s done this summer. I know he’s working up there in Kansas, and I know he’s going to be fine with whatever he does.”
We know Andrew Wiggins walks on air. Let’s take a deep breath before we start asking him to walk on water, too.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at email@example.com.