Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Andrew Wiggins and the Mid-Major Dream

Mid-dunk, McDonald's All-American Andrew Wiggins ponders his college options. (McDonald's via SBNation)

The NCAA Tournament has been whittled to four remaining teams and the NBA regular season is wrapping up. Andrew Wiggins will make his way, quickly, through the collegiate ranks and play on basketball's biggest stage as soon as fall 2014. Right now, though, Wiggins is a senior at Huntington Prep in Huntington, West Virginia.

The 18-year-old small forward was originally on track to leave high school in 2014, but reclassified to finish a year early — and with good reason. Wiggins is 6'7", 205 pounds and immediately passed fellow recruits Jabari Parker and Julius Randle to become the top prospect in the 2013 high school class and a very early projection as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. His picked up national momentum after ripping opponents in tournaments last summer and has since established his status by doing things like throwing down between-the-legs, 360 dunks at the McDonald's All-American game.

Although Wiggins isn't tipping his hat toward which college program will land him, none of his suitors are in the Final Four. Two were eliminated before the Elite Eight (Kansas and North Carolina) while the other two finalists (Kentucky and Florida State) fell outside the March Madness bubble. Wiggins' parents both attended Florida State as student-athletes, and the Seminoles are a quietly understood frontrunner despite their blue-blood competition.

What no one is talking about is a possible darkhorse entering the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes late: the Wichita State Shockers. That's fair because, even though his brother Nick Wiggins is a reserve guard for WSU and the Shockers' Cinderella run to the Final Four will surely put them in the hunt for better recruits in the near future, Andrew Wiggins is not going to play out his (probably) lone college season at a mid-major in the heartland. A high major program with sterling history that happens to reside on the bountiful Kansas plains, such as KU, has a legitimate chance to snag such a recruit, but Wichita State does not.

That isn't to take away from the program. Like Mark Turgeon before him, head coach Gregg Marshall has done a fantastic job building the Shockers and raising their national profile. Occasionally a highly touted recruit will opt to play for a smaller program for one reason or another, but this late in the game — Wiggins has already visited three of the four contending schools and will announce his decision before May 15 — Wichita State has no chance. Even Nick is prodding his younger brother in other directions.

There are no murmurs about Andrew Wiggins suiting up in black and yellow like his brother because such things are beyond the scope of rational thought. Andrew Wiggins is the kind of player who stars at a traditionally premier program before moving on to an inevitable career in the NBA. That much we know before he even graduates from high school, and that's fine. The Shockers have a shot a national championship. Making the Final Four is an accomplishment for any team, let alone one that was slated to finish third in their non-power six conference in preaseason polls. Adding the top recruit of the incoming freshman class would undoubtedly be a windfall for Wichita State. It won't happen.

But it's a nice daydream.

Follow @BeatsDimesDrive on Twitter
Like Beats Dimes and Drives on Facebook

No comments:

Post a Comment