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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

One of a kind: Wiggins focused on own career, not comparisons

Kansas University freshman Andrew Wiggins, left, answers a question alongside senior Tarik Black, center, and junior Naadir Tharpe during Big 12 Men’s Basketball Media Day on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013, at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas University freshman Andrew Wiggins, left, answers a question alongside senior Tarik Black, center, and junior Naadir Tharpe during Big 12 Men’s Basketball Media Day on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013, at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

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— Kansas University freshman sensation Andrew Wiggins needed to finish one interview before taking his seat at a table with teammates Perry Ellis, Naadir Tharpe and Tarik Black at Big 12 Men’s Basketball Media Day on Tuesday in Sprint Center.

Not getting the memo regarding the delay ... one of two dozen reporters mistook 6-foot-9, 260-pound senior center Black for the 6-8, 200-pound Wiggins, asking him how he likes playing at KU.

“It feels great, wonderful,” said Black, good-naturedly playing along with the case of mistaken identity. “I’m kicking my feet up, enjoying every day.

“KU fans ... I appreciate you so much. It’s been an honor,” Black added before coming clean and indicating Wiggins had yet to appear for the 45-minute group chat session.

To be fair to the reporter ... maybe he saw the recent cover of Sports Illustrated which didn’t show Wiggins’ face. The Vaughan, Ontario native stood with a basketball facing the masthead with the caption: “The Freshman: From Wilt To Manning To Wiggins, A Torch Is Passed At Kansas,” prominently displayed.

Determined to learn all about KU history in his one year as a Jayhawk, Wiggins is aware Chamberlain scored 52 points and grabbed 31 rebounds in his college debut versus Northwestern.

“That game Wilt had, that first game, that’s ridiculous,” Wiggins exclaimed shortly after arriving to face the media throng.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever get that in college. I’ll continue to work hard. I know the fans will be there whether I play well or not. The fans are loyal. They’ll be there.”

Wiggins — he averaged 23.4 points and 11.2 rebounds last season at Huntington Prep in West Virginia — isn’t crazy about being tagged the best high school player since NBA star Kevin Durant, his favorite player, and LeBron James.

“I’ve got a long way to go before I can be compared to LeBron and Durant. Those are the best players in the world right now,” Wiggins said. “I’m still in college. I think it’s unfair to compare me with someone of that caliber. Hopefully one day I can be compared to them. I think I have a long way to go before I am. In reality, they are the best players in the world.”

KU coach Bill Self just hopes fans let Wiggins develop his own identity.

“I don’t even know of one player I can think of that he’s like that guy. He’s just Andrew,” Self said. “That’s all he needs to be is just try to be himself and not live up to what other people think he should be. When you’re the cover of S.I. and they’re comparing you to (Wilt) Chamberlain and (Danny) Manning, and in Chamberlain’s first game he went for 52 and 31, that’s not going to happen. He could go for 20 and 10 and disappoint everybody.

“But the thing about Andrew, if you really understand ball, he’ll be a guy that will impact our team in ways other than scoring points because he can do a lot of different things,” added Self, who said he wants Wiggins and Wayne Selden to be “guards that post.”

Being human, Wiggins obviously will make some mistakes, just like the young reporter who asked Self if Chamberlain and Manning had “reached out” to Wiggins to help him with expectations.

Chamberlain, of course, died in 1999.

“Danny may have,” Self said, not wanting to embarrass the young questioner. “Danny I think is a great sounding board for Andrew. I think that would be somebody who will help Andrew even though he is in Tulsa (as head coach). He will and we’ll ask him to do so. There are a lot of similarities from a personality standpoint and all that stuff when Danny was playing.”

Though Wiggins is quiet, he’s fun to be around, his teammates say.

“Every time I see the dude, I look at him and start laughing,” said KU junior Naadir Tharpe. “I don’t know why. One day after practice, my man was about to get in the shower with his ankle braces on. He walked all the way to the shower and comes back. He said, ‘I got my ankle braces on.’ We said, ‘Yeah we can see.’ That’s who he is, a laid-back dude. You wouldn’t even know he’s the No. 1 player in the country if you haven’t seen the magazines. He’s always himself all the time.”

Wiggins handled a barrage of questions on Tuesday on a variety of topics.

He likes listening to Canadian recording artist Drake, who he knows personally; his personality reflects his mother, soft-spoken track star Marita Payne-Wiggins more than dad, former NBA player Mitchell; he actually has picked up a hockey stick like many of his fellow Canadians.

“I can skate ... on ice,” Wiggins said.

Backwards? “Yeah,” he stated with a smile.

More importantly, he thinks he’s already learned a lot from KU coach Self and teammates like senior Black — “He’s a coach on the floor,” Wiggins said — and as such is prepared for the start of his frosh season.

“I think I’m ready right now,” Wiggins said. “I have to make sure to keep getting in the gym, shooting extra shots, know all the plays. I play hard all the time now. I think I play hard right now.”

It’s because after lots of pick-up basketball with his teammates last summer in Lawrence and preseason practices this fall, he’s learned it’s difficult on this level.

“There are no bad players on the team,” the McDonald’s All-American and No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2013 said. “You can’t take any plays off. The person you are guarding may be as good as you.”

His expectations are for the team, not himself. “We can be great, the best team in the country,” Wiggins said. “We’ve got a young team. The chemistry is building real quick. Practice has been real hard for the freshmen. Now everything is coming easier, more fluent. The potential is there to be the best team.”

Comments

Michael Luby 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Just the sheer number of posts about the FB link anonymity issue on this one article has proven our point.

This websites integrity has been irrevocably compromised.

I used to come here to learn about basketball and read about my favorite team. I learned more about the game from Jaybate, HEM, Slayr and all of the other knowledgeable people on this site that either wont or cant post on here due to the FB link, than half of the 4 main journalists on here.

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Jay Reynolds 5 months, 4 weeks ago

I broke down and just set up a new facebook account (which I had deleted a couple years ago because it turned out most of my old "friends" had grown up to be obnoxious morons). Not tied to my former account here... I'm starting fresh!

Not that my opinion matters, but for the past 10 or so years I've been following it, ku sports has always been the most civil sports commenting group I've ever seen, so nothing was broken in the first place. Secondly, based on my own experience with facebook (and an occasional reading of espn.com comments) I think it's foolish to expect the supposed "non-anonymity" of facebook to keep people civil. I don't blame people for wanting privacy--it's far too easy for nutcases to look another poster up on fb and start slinging personal info around.

We'll see how it goes. Love the reporting you guys do, but the quality of the discussion is already better on the kubuckets board.

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Ralster Jayhawk 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Since its more about marketing, maybe I will comment on one of the ads: Hey, that Sensa ad brunette is hott!

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Andrew Moore 5 months, 4 weeks ago

My two cents... I don't like the changes. Why can't you link to Facebook but allow people to use a username for displays? You could and have the Facebook "real" name that loads when users username was clicked. I don't like this change and am reluctant even to post this!

Also, I don't recognize the need to change anything. If it is to make money, just say so

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Eliott Reeder 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Interesting discussion here, and I'm glad you have joined it Gary. I, too, am sad to see this site and all of the commenting/message board use dying a slow death. I guess it will still get plenty of hits from everyone reading the articles, but I will certainly miss some of the more prolific posters. I definitely see both sides of this, and there have been several very salient points made. I hadn't thought about high profile people, ie politicians or celebs who might frequent this site and not want their real names provided. Or those who may risk getting in trouble at work for taking the time to write long posts on the clock. I have no problem divulging my identity because everyone in my life knows I am nuts about KU b-ball and that I waste half my life reading everything on this site. For those who are paranoid (like your handful of relatives, Gary) anything and everything you do is probably well-monitored by the NSA regardless, so I don't think posting on KUSports is going to make much difference between whether or not you end up in Guantanamo. And yet, on the other hand Gary, I don't think it is very hard to create a fake profile on Facebook, so anyone with a lick of internet sense can get back here and post anonymously regardless. So there goes your whole argument about the importance of using real names. I hope that many of the old regulars do just that. I, however, will continue to post under my real name, because I am lucky enough that it doesn't affect me one way or another. -Eliott (formerly known as KoolKeithFreeze)

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Gary Bedore 5 months, 4 weeks ago

I think you are right in your take, Ron. Hopefully the young student reporter (I'm pretty sure she was a student reporter from Iowa, but I could be mistaken) learned a lesson. I know Bill Self felt for her cause when somebody made a wisecrack after she left, Bill said, "She was trying very hard." Cause she asked 3-4 other questions to Bill as well. She seemed pretty sharp so I'm sure she'll learn from it. We all make mistakes even tho some people in this world probably act like they don't.

Some other guy made a mistake too, mistaking Tarik Black for Wiggins. The Jayhawks laughed a bit at the table but didn't ridicule the reporter or anything. Tarik had some fun with the situation for a moment.

We had a full hour with Bill so the questions got kind of crazy at the end. Love Brett McCabe's posts on anonymity.

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Ron Prichard 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Welcome back, HEM. I really do believe that LJW killed the threads with this latest move, but there are still a few that like to comment. I am sure many, many more still read the articles. I know people are trying to start other blog/comment sites, but my biggest problem with that is reading the articles here and then going to another site to comment on them is a bit cumbersome. I don't see that it is any easier than just commenting here. Of course, the disclosure issue is still there.

As for the article itself, I actually heard the question about Wilt on the radio. There was a long akward pause and then Self started talking about Danny. You could hear another reporter blurt out, "he's dead!" As kind as Self tried to be, the gal had to want to crawl into a hole and cry.

I wonder if Coach Self ever reaches out to Coach Allen? I bet he would have some great advice.

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Waylon Cook 5 months, 4 weeks ago

I'd rather have one Wiggins than 10 Marcus Smarts.

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Jack Wilson 6 months ago

It's pretty funny. Some have posted that anonymity is the source of evil. Actually, idiots are the source of evil. And we generally have very few here. They seemed to be managed just fine. And by and large, their negative conduct was policed the way such speech should be policed .. by more convincing speech. Because the idiots are entitled to their opinions.

There is a very easy solution here. Folks could log-in through Facebook, but their screen name is all that is shown. If they cross the line on commenting with extreme stuff -- like what followed from some ISU fans after we won in Ames, for example -- then ban them. It's easy.

Part of the enjoyment of this site is not knowing who jaybate is. I don't want to know that Blown is "Ron" whoever, or drgnslayr is "William" whatever. And I'm sure no one cares who I am one bit.

As of now, though, the LJW has successfully destroyed what was a pretty cool deal.

HEM

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Jack Wilson 6 months ago

It is unfortunate that the LJW policy has destroyed this site as far as commenting goes. This article would have many comments more by now. I have read the comments on prior articles and while there is some analysis, it is limited. An article with 15 comments would have had over 100. Many of the comments are about the commenting policy.

The policy has nothing to do with civility. That's a red herring. It has to do with money, and information sharing, and data mining, and targeted advertising, and Facebook advertising, and Google surveys. The LJW did not hook up with Facebook for "civility" purposes. Who is naïve enough to believe that? How does Facebook make money? Try this. Next time you buy something online, use the email address that you registered with at Facebook. All of a sudden, you'll see some targeted advertising on this site. And right, Facebook sells collective data to Google.

But look, we can fight it, or we can work with it. In the age where the newspaper is dying, the LJW has to ensure revenue. It's a business. There is no site if there is no LJW. They have to adapt. Facebook, Google, etc., is adaptation. I just read Jesse's summary of Self's comments and the Big 12 media. It was terrific. That's a great part of this site.

But the best part are the comments and analysis that follows by posters. A reporter/columnist provides generally one point of view, or none if he's just reporting. And if just reporting, there is many times no analysis.

Personally, I enjoyed the posts of everyone that was here .. and I felt that I learned something on regular basis, particularly from folks I disagreed with. The information in the posts was incredible. I know jaybate is the one many love to hate, but seriously, there are some guys that just think they're the smartest guys in the room, and then there are others that are the smartest guys in the room. He was clearly the latter. The entertainment factor from everyone here .. from the regulars to the non-regulars was outstanding. I've seen a lot of places and message boards .. but who compares to jaybate, Oak, drgnslayr, ralster, Blown, konkeyDong, etc. -- and I don't say "etc." lightly, There are many, many more that I could list.

I get that there is a minority out there that doesn't like having their thought process challenged, and just like to post without discourse, but that isn't what the message boards here have been all about. That small minority have made their opinions known in there posts here over the last week plus.

(continued)

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Martin Rosenblum 6 months ago

Doesn't this kid have a nickname yet? Surely, amongst the team and away from the game, there's something beside Andrew Wiggins that he's known by! TRob, JuJu, Shady, Rio, etc. come to mind along with numerous other "nicknames". I don't recall hearing Wiggins being called anything else yet, except the #1 recruit, which we're all greatful for. But, we like to identify with their personalities or what alternatives their teammates have adopted for them.

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Clarence Haynes 6 months ago

"Being human, Wiggins obviously will make some mistakes, just like the young reporter who asked Self if Chamberlain and Manning had “reached out” to Wiggins to help him with expectations."

Wiggins channeled a Wilt!

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Ken Sedgwick 6 months ago

Read the article Randomly answered survey Moving on to kubuckets Last comment here

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Ferd Magellan 6 months ago

“I’ve got a long way to go before I can be compared to LeBron and Durant. Those are the best players in the world right now,” Wiggins said. “I’m still in college. I think it’s unfair to compare me with someone of that caliber. Hopefully one day I can be compared to them. I think I have a long way to go before I am. In reality, they are the best players in the world.”

Serious man crush. ;)

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