Andrew Wiggins has left the hoops world in darkness for months. On Tuesday, the most heralded high school hoops hitchhiker on the recruiting trail, finally accepted a ride. Wiggins could have crammed into Calipari's overcrowded luxury bus, hopped into UNC's Bugatti of a fastbreak offense or borrowed his parent’s keys to the family car at Florida State. Instead, Toronto's “Maple Jordan” chose to ride shotgun with Bill Self.
In typical Wiggins’ style, it was a private occasion with family, a few friends and a single reporter present to watch him fax in his letter-of-intent.
The CIA Bounce AAU basketball prodigy was more tight-lipped about his recruitment than the actual agency in Langley. Of his final four prospective schools, Kansas appeared to be the least likely. UNC has a history of churning out NBA All-Star guards. Florida State is his mother’s and father's alma mater and Kentucky would have let him call the shots for arguably the most highly touted freshman round up since Steve Fisher lured five freshman to Michigan in the '90s.
However, Kansas does have its benefits for Wiggins. Kansas gives him an opportunity to escape the shadows that he would been trapped beneath at Kentucky (national title or bust), UNC (Michael Jordan) and Florida State (his parents). It's barely over a two-hour drive between the University of Kansas and Wichita State, where his brother Nick will be a senior next season. Kansas is a blue blood university, but it lacks the pomp and circumstance of UNC and Kentucky. Reportedly, he and Self had the best rapport of any of the schools he was considering, and according to what his high school coach told SI.com in March, the intimate atmosphere may have vaulted them into the pole position.
Via Sports Illustrated:
It seems that it was his time with the players that stood out during his visit to Lawrence.
"He spoke about being able to spend a little more personal time with the players," Fulford said. "I think he enjoyed the atmosphere there, and I'm not saying he enjoyed the atmosphere there more than others, but he talked about it more than the others."
He'll be touted as the next Ben McLemore, but Wiggins is supposed to be better. Similar to McLemore he has a reputation for passivity until the moment calls or he feels like he's got to prove something. After a story in Sports Illustrated painted a negative image of his father's involvement in his basketball career, Wiggins dropped 57 and was very direct to Zach Jackson of Fox Sports Ohio.
“After that article dropped, I knew I had to respond,” Wiggins told Fox Sports Ohio. “That was the best way to respond.”
The great ones are assertive under any circumstances. That's what Wiggins has to discover within himself if he wants to live up to his “Maple Jordan” moniker.
As I said last month, when Nick Wiggins tweeted about his Andrew's decision, it’s not for everybody, but the Midwestern mid-major life fits Wiggins. At that time, I was tantalized by the possibility of Wiggins bucking the trend and attending Wichita State. There will be a limelight and a cult of rabid fans at Kansas, but it'll be a lot more subdued in Lawrence, Kansas.
Keep your eyes peeled, because it'll be a quick ride. Wiggins is projected as the No.1 overall pick in the 2014 draft while many scouts believe he'd be the first player taken this June if he were eligible.