Catch 22: Wiggins in UK’s future?

By Nick Jones
njones@kykernel.com

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.

Andrew Wiggins participates in the 2011 Elite Youth Basketball League at the Boo Williams Sports Complex on April 9, 2011 in Hampton, VA. Photo by Andrew Shurtleff

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.”

Shirley Cantrell says:

Good article. I enjoyed the good writing and inciteful look into a young player. I also enjoyed reading the comments. I would advise ANY young person to pursue a college education even if they are tops in their sport. My belief is that education is important because you have to take care of these fabulous salaries once you earn them. Too many horror stories of athletes making millions and ending up with nothing because of not understanding how financial matters need to be handled. The fact that this young man has a girlfriend should not enter into his college choice or if he stays in highschool one more year. He has to do what is best for him. The girlfriend will still be there later on if it is meant to be. How many of us dated who we thought was the love of our life in highschool but went on to marry someone else. That sort of thing changes with age and wisdom. I would advise Wiggins to think seriously about basing his decisions on a girlfriend.

Lamar says:

How is his coach dumb. Even if this kid turned out to be the next Kwame Brown, Kwame has earned 58 million in his career and is still employed by an NBA team. I’m in college and the only reason I go to school and spend every dollar I earn on tuition is so I can have the job I want. If i could get that job without having to spend years in college, I would do that. Saying college is a waste of time is not complete inaccurate. If he’s good enough to earn a paycheck playing ball now, all college is to him and an injury risk.

John says:

What a dumb coach. Wiggins should just skip college and he is good enough to start in the NBA. Thats what is wrong with this system now of days. How the fuck does he know? What happened to the days of staying in college for 4 years and actually getting an education. Kids are getting brainwashed by stupid coaches like these. WHo knows, he may be the next KWAME BROWN.

Bill says:

UK bound!!

bmt22033 says:

@Andrew – Re: “Wiggins ended this summer as the top player in America regardless of class, despite hailing from Toronto.” It simply means that Wiggins is from Toronto (Canada) but is being call the best player in *America*. Canada and the US are two different countries, ya know? ;-)

Andrew says:

“…despite hailing from Toronto?” Whats that supposed to mean exactly?