First thing's first: It’s probably best Wiggins decided not to attend his parent's alma mater Florida State. As sky-high as his potential is, carrying an entire team on his underdeveloped shoulders would have been a tremendous mistake. Ignore the LeBron-hype. This is not Kevin Durant at Texas. Wiggins favors Paul George with his wiry frame, long arms, rubber band ligaments and propensity to attack the hoop. He still has loads of developments to make.
Fortunately for him, he’s got an all-Wooden supporting cast at Kansas that feeds him the ball in scoring opportunities rather than have him to force his way to the hoop and develop bad habits by trial and error. With that said, Wiggins flashed potential in his primetime debut against Kansas like a streaker flashes his Sam Cassells. In defeat, Jabari Parker balled-out.
Parker is on a mission to steal back what was rightfully his. On Tuesday, he stole back the thunder that Wiggins robbed him of when he reclassified to the high school Class of 2013.
Before Wiggins’ reclassified last October, Parker was the prized prospect out of this freshman class.
Watching Parker stroke the net from downtown was a reminder why he chose Duke. Coach K covets fundamental basketball players, and Parker’s basic offensive skills were perfected by the time he arrived on Duke’s campus from Chicago’s Simeon High School. It’s been a while since Duke trotted out a prospect with as much hype as the young Parker, with all due respect to Kyrie Irving. He’s been projected as a mix of Grant Hill with Shane Battier’s range and Elton Brand’s post up ability.
After scoring just six points in the first half, Wiggins came out in the second half and immediately hulked out. The lane was Wiggins’ domain. He rarely scored anywhere beyond five or six feet.
Parker responded to Wiggins’ early second half aggressiveness by cutting backdoor behind a screen from Rodney Hood, dove to the basket, launched himself into the air five feet from the basket, leapt for the oop with one hand raised, Moss’d it with that hand and slammed it home.
It was a familiar image for Dukie fans.
At this point in their developments, Parker’s range is unlimited. He filled the stat sheet with 27 points and nine boards. More importantly, he’s winning the war being waged between himself and Wiggins over draft stock ad NBA expectations.
Despite Wiggins’ outstanding stat line, ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman's criticisms of Wiggins from earlier this week held up under the bright lights.
"Great athlete, no way he's the top pick in the draft. Julius Randle is better. There's just way too much hype. His skill level is average. He made a few shots but plays straight up and down and doesn't have any playmaking skills. Everything has to be a straight-line drive. Right now, he's the third- or fourth-best player for Kansas. He's long and athletic but has a long way to go."
There are no complexities in Wiggins’ movements on the floor with or without the basketball. While Parker found creative ways to score in the half court, if Wiggins couldn’t see a red carpet to the basket, break out in transition or wasn’t towering over Tyler Thornton in the post, the lack of versatility in his scoring arsenal was apparent.
However, because of his measurables, quick feet and athleticism, Wiggins has the potential to evolve into an all-world defender at the next level. Scouts will have a litany of factors to weigh next June. Week one of college basketball has already complicated a simplistic Riggin’ for Wiggin’s storyline.
One fact has emerged from college basketball’s tip-off after Parker, Arizona’s Aaron Gordon and Kentucky’s Julius Randle gave us a sneak peek at the future. Parker is sitting outside the top-five in many online draft prospect rankings, but he just got a little upward momentum.
By season’s end, the scrum for the first pick at the NBA level may end up being for someone other than Wiggins.