Wiggins focuses on hoops over hype
by Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
LAWRENCE, Kan. — When the world is watching your every move, fans are tracking your flights so they can greet you at the airport and you can’t escape autograph hounds on campus … how do you get away?
How do you reconcile being a normal college kid — and supposedly the greatest basketball prospect since LeBron James? A quiet teenage boy — and already the projected No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft?
For Andrew Wiggins, the answer is simple: video games.
“He’s also first-team All-American Call of Duty,” jokes Rob Fulford, Wiggins’ high school coach.
Says fellow Kansas freshman Wayne Selden: “That’s all he does. I go in his room, and he’s talking to the TV screen. That’s what he does. That’s his thing.”
The rest of the time, basketball is his thing.
A 6-8 wing, Wiggins has received rave reviews from nearly everyone who has watched him play, including those in the NBA who salivate over his pro potential and raw athleticism. He wowed college coaches on the AAU circuit, and he averaged 23.4 points and 11.2 rebounds a game at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep last season. The consensus top prospect in the 2013 class, Wiggins had his pick of elite basketball programs.
He chose Kansas over North Carolina (where he’d have been coached by Hall of Famer Roy Williams), Kentucky (where John Calipari had assembled the best recruiting class since the Fab Five) and Florida State (where his parents went).
Jayhawks coach Bill Self says Wiggins is the most-hyped player Kansas has had, probably, since Danny Manning, who won a national title at Kansas and went No. 1 overall in the 1988 draft.
“Maybe even before Danny, maybe since Wilt,” Self says. Yes, Chamberlain.
“We never talked to Andrew about being a one-and-done,” Self says. “We just talked to him about being a college kid, coming in and trying hard, helping us, and we’re going to help him by putting him in a position to showcase himself. … It was always unspoken that we understood, if he did what he was supposed to do, we won’t have him here on campus very long.