With Kansas, Andrew Wiggins Isn’t Maple Jordan
So decision day came and went and Andrew Wiggins will not be playing in the ACC next year. Both Florida State and North Carolina lost out this afternoon when the nation’s consensus #1 recruit picked the Kansas Jayhawks. Am I upset? I’m not sure yet. After reading up on Wiggins, I’m just not sure he’s the type of guy I want on my team. You’ll probably think I’m just bitter. Didn’t I write a glowing article about him yesterday? Stay with me. His decision, and the way he went about it, told me a lot that I didn’t think about before.
Throughout Wiggins’ recruitment I kept hearing that the reason he didn’t speak to the media was because he was “shy.” But if that was the case, why did he drag out his recruitment so long? Why did his coach and brother issue statements about him almost daily? And why did he have such a “low-profile” announcement? Certainly, he realized that by doing it all that way, he would get even MORE attention in the long run?
I totally understand that some things are out of his control. Maybe he didn’t ask for all of this, but his ability commands it. He’s a truly gifted player, perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime find for Bill Self. So the circus surrounding him is just the reality of the situation. But in waiting until the second-to-last day of the signing period, I really lost a lot of respect for him. I’m just going to be honest. Maybe he WAS truly on the fence. I apologize to him for being quick to judge. But that’s just not my impression. From what I’ve read, he’s been down to Kansas and Florida State for a while. So why drag it out? It just doesn’t seem fair to the other coaches, having them make visits and calls when he’s made up his mind. Spending good money, real money, on an effort that wouldn’t change anything. Yes, I even feel for John Calipari, who I’m sure you know that I do not have a lot of respect for.
I do realize that this was an important decision for Wiggins. I remember being in his shoes, at least somewhat, in deciding what to do with the rest of my life. But isn’t this just a pit-stop on the way to the NBA? A colleague of mine at work pointed me to a story today where Wiggins said that he didn’t want to enroll in summer school. That pretty much ruled out North Carolina before the announcement since that’s a requirement for incoming players. But I just don’t understand why Wiggins would think this, or even worse, say it. Doesn’t he want to be with his teammates? So I wasn’t too optimistic to begin with. But, why wouldn’t Wiggins want to enjoy the extremely shortened college experience that he’s going to have? That just doesn’t make sense. I do get this- his actions and words portray a player who is driven. A guy who’s extremely focused and motivated. Yet, a guy who’s is almost TOO inwardly motivated. TOO focused. Through his actions, he’s made a lot of people wait. In waiting, he’s made everything about himself. That doesn’t sound like a team player to me.
But most commentators will be quick to mention how much he will improve Kansas’ team. There’s no doubt they’re right. After all, the Jayhawks are losing the majority of their minutes from last year, including another superstar freshman, Ben McLemore. But most polls have them going from a borderline top-25 team to a top-5 team! I just don’t see it. There’s just not enough experience on that team to make a deep run. I’m be happy to be proven wrong, though. For all my skepticism surrounding Andrew Wiggins’ motivation, I absolutely respect him as a player. He’s certainly a sight to see and would have made an impact wherever he went. But his actions just don’t feel right to me. A good teammate is someone who doesn’t just want to make himself better, he wants to make everyone around him better; even at his own expense. Maybe Kansas will find this out. Think of some of the great point guards- Jason Kidd, Steve Nash…even Kendall Marshall from North Carolina. They have a pass-first mentality. A team mentality. They would want to be there for their teammates the very first second they could. And they would do everything in their power to make sure that the spotlight was on anyone but them.
I’m absolutely certain that Andrew Wiggins will have a great college career. He’ll use his brief time at Kansas to resume his rightful position as the #1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and go on to be an All-Star for years to come. But after some reflection on the latest “Decision,” I can only hope that I’m wrong about him. I want to believe that Andrew Wiggins is the shy kid that everyone else talks about. Young men certainly need more role models that embody the trait of humility. But like everyone else, I’ll just have to wait and see. As I said yesterday, I hope that Wiggins is happy with his decision. Surprisingly, I am too.