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By Nick Jones
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Standing 6-foot-8, 195 pounds, there is not much Andrew Wiggins can’t do on the basketball court.
The high-school junior has elite athletic ability.
In fine-tuning his skills, he has become a prolific scorer, whether that is with his much-improved jump shot or driving ability. In addition, his length provides vast opportunities to break down his defender.
All that considered, his head coach at Huntington Prep, Rob Fulford, summed things up: “There is no question college is a waste of time for him.”
Essentially, he is correct. Wiggins ended this summer as the top player in America regardless of class, despite hailing from Toronto.
“It is an honor that people are recognizing someone from Canada, another country, being named the best player in the nation,” Wiggins said.
Being such a highly rated prospect, he excels in dealing with all the media and the attention that comes with it.
“He’s a good kid. He hates this stuff but he’s good at it,” Fulford said. “That’s the funny part about it.”
Wiggins suggests that he still needs to improve on a few things, notably getting stronger and working on ball handling.
“I mean, his game is at an extremely high level and he’s on an entirely different level than anyone at his age right now,” Fulford said. “I think it’s just kind of fine-tuning things at this point.”
But, Fulford said, “he could start for an NBA team tomorrow.”
Andrew is not only an unbelievable talent, but a great leader on and off the court.
“He’s just a good kid, so people want to be around him. And people want to be around him, not just because he’s Andrew Wiggins, but because he’s a likable guy,” Fulford said. “You know, people at school like him, teachers like him and that’s a tribute to his character.”
The big question is whether he will make the jump to the 2013 class or stay in high school an additional year, something his coach said he is ready to do.
“Selfishly for us, if we’ve got him here for another year that’s better for us, but that’s not what’s best for him,” Fulford said.
But there may be more that factors into the decision other than what is best for his career as a basketball player. Fulford added a twist to his player’s recruitment that could play a factor into his reclassification.
“He’s got a girlfriend,” Fulford joked. “She’s top 25 in the country and she goes to the school he goes to and she’s in the same class he is.”
Ultimately, family will make that choice, though, his coach said.
“I have the feeling that if the decision is solely his he will be back. He will be in ’14,” Fulford said. “If his dad says ‘you are going,’ then obviously he will go, but that hasn’t happened yet, so that’s what I tell everybody — until it comes out of his dad’s mouth, it is just rumor.”
One of those rumors has it that Wiggins’ recruitment is down to the likes of UK, FSU and North Carolina.
“Obviously, Kentucky will be in it in the end,” Fulford said. “I wouldn’t say Florida State has an edge, but obviously Mom ran track there, Dad played there, so they’re going to be in it.”
Recruiters from North Carolina were scheduled to be in town to speak with Wiggins on Thursday, Fulford said.
As strange as it may seem, UK head coach John Calipari didn’t make a stop in Huntington during his cross-country recruiting trip, despite previous reports.
“Cal was supposed to be here to meet with him on Sunday morning, but we didn’t get back until Sunday evening from a game and (Calipari) had to go on to Texas,” Fulford said.
Wiggins said he wouldn’t mind playing with other elite talent, which is a probable occurrence for Calipari’s 2013 recruiting class.
“If that school offers me the best chance and the best opportunity and other top players are on their team, I wouldn’t mind playing with them,” he said.
No particular timeframe is being considered by the star recruit for his decision. Wiggins said when the time comes that he must pick a school, he will do so.
Eventually, he will step foot on a college campus as a freshman, be it next fall or in 2014, but the question of if he’ll be a one-and-done is a laughable one, at best, for his coach.
“He better be.”