A look at Andrew Wiggins, one of the two strongest candidates to be the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft…
Why he might be No. 1: Wiggins isn’t just a great athlete – he has a chance to instantly be one of the top athletes in the NBA. He has a 7-foot wingspan, (at least) a 40-inch vertical and his highlight reel is full of breathtaking dunks and explosive offensive plays. He’s developing a better jumpshot and feel for the game, and has the tools to eventually be a dominating player, even at the game’s highest level.
Why he might not be No. 1: He’s still more prospect than consistent producer. Critics point to his tendency to disappear in stretches last season and his four-point game when Kansas was eliminated by Stanford in the second round of the NCAA tournament. There’s a thought that while Wiggins has a very high basketball ceiling, Jabari Parker might be more NBA-ready right now. We’ll see.
In a way, he was made for this. The son of former NBA player Mitchell Wiggins and former Canadian Olympic sprinter Marita Payne-Wiggins, he grew up in the suburbs of Toronto. Once Andrew Wiggins really took to basketball, he took off.
Wiggins turned 19 in February, in the midst of breaking the Kansas freshman scoring record. Kansas listed Wiggins at 6’8, 200, and he’s certainly skinny by NBA standards. But for as much discussion about how much he needs to and will grow as a player, he averaged 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while leading Kansas in steals and finishing second in blocked shots to 7-foot Joel Embiid last season.
Wiggins first came to the United States as a ninth-grader, then returned to Canada after the basketball program at school he attended in North Carolina fell apart amongst allegations of improprieties, none of which involved Wiggins. When he officially reclassified to the class of 2013 during his second season playing a national schedule at Huntington Prep in West Virginia, all the major scouting services immediately made him the top prospect in his class, in most cases passing Parker on those lists.
Wiggins prefers to keep a low profile, though it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to maintain that going forward. When he announced his college decision last spring, he did it in front of his classmates at St. Joseph High School in Huntington. Except for one reporter, media was barred. Some reports said that not even Kansas coach Bill Self knew until Wiggins announced that his one college season — and it was always only going to be one — would be spent in Lawrence.
Said Self: "One of the bright things about his stay here was that he was so coachable and a great teammate and everybody wanted to see him do well. We’re very proud of him, very excited for his future, and as good as he’s been for us, we know he’s only scratching the surface of what he’ll do moving forward."