Thursday, October 31, 2013


Opinion: Andrew Wiggins has the tools, but the hype’s unfair

Kansas guards Andrew Wiggins, left, and Naadir Tharpe laugh on the bench during the second half of an exhibition game on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guards Andrew Wiggins, left, and Naadir Tharpe laugh on the bench during the second half of an exhibition game on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Andrew Wiggins didn’t ask for expectations to soar higher and faster than he does flushing lobs.

His made-for-basketball physical tools played a small part in others selling him as the next Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning, LeBron James, Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, you name a superstar, some magazine will link him to Wiggins. The hyperbole surrounding his game is as much a sign of the times we live in — Madison Avenue meets cyberspace meets college basketball recruiting, where tomorrow forever is better than today because today never is quite perfect.

No teenager could be good enough to justify all the hoopla, so there is no point in measuring him against it. Certainly, all but the mean-spirited hope Wiggins doesn’t feel as if anyone will consider him a failure if he doesn’t earn first-team All-American honors.

Measuring him against the wall with a pencil to mark the spot, he actually appeared a notch above most five-star recruits listed at 6-foot-8. If anything, he looked a bit taller than 6-8 Perry Ellis. With a 7-foot wingspan, the quickest first step in the gym and the most explosive jump, Wiggins has all the parts. Yet, at the moment he amounts to a Double-A phenom working his way toward the big leagues. Nothing wrong with that.

Michael Jordan was Mike Jordan when he released that jumper against Georgetown his freshman season and Michael Jordan once it dropped. Everything, even his first name, changed with the shot that won the national title for North Carolina. What is forgotten is he averaged 13.5 points that year.

Times have changed since 1981. Given how early superstars are ordained, it’s almost surprising Wiggins didn’t earn a No. 1 ranking in the prenatal class of 1995, considering his father played in the NBA and his mother was an Olympic track medalist for Canada.

Rankings equate to empty calories. The only voices Wiggins need heed are the nourishing ones of teammates and coaches.

“He was definitely nervous,” said Naadir Tharpe, who looked so comfortable running the team in Tuesday’s exhibition victory against Pittsburg State. “It’s only right for him to be nervous.”

That doesn’t mean Wiggins doesn’t need to change. He’s 18. Nobody knows it all at 18, other than a know-it-all snot, which from my distant view does not appear to fit Wiggins. (So far, only members of the national media have been granted one-on-one interviews with Wiggins, the first KU player with whom such a policy has been used.)

“We want him to be much more aggressive,” Tharpe said. “He’s kind of laid-back, but that’s also a good thing because he tried to find his teammates and he’s not a selfish dude at all.”

When team-building, it’s easier to turn laid-back into aggressive than selfish into team-first. My guess is Wiggins will exhibit eagerness to please teammates, the strongest of all springboards toward stardom.


Joe Ross 7 years, 2 months ago

This is a poorly timed article. The conclusion is that the hype is unfair. I know that Coach Self has made that statement (or rather that the comparisons with Wilt and Lebron are unfair), but coach may be trying to alleviate the pressure, which he himself acknowledged can take players out of their game. The hype may be justified, and Wiggins may meet or even surpass expectations. We don't know one way or the other. Why? Because we're one game into a season. Derrick Rose, John Wall, Kevin Durant, and others have all had similar pressure placed on them, and it didn't take any of them long to adjust to the game. At least give Wiggins a chance! It sounds to me like this is a reaction piece to Wiggins' scoring a very quiet 16 and not doing the high-flying act that we expected or saw in other players like McLemore. As he settles in, you may hear of Wiggins dropping 20 a night. Let's get to January at least and discuss whether or not he was over-hyped.

Ron Franklin 7 years, 2 months ago

You have serious reading comprehension issues.

Doug Merrill 7 years, 2 months ago

I agree with Ron - you missed the point: whether or not the hype is justified, it is unfair. The timing of the article (immediately following the firts exhibition game) is logical.

Joe Ross 7 years, 2 months ago

You got the number 1 recruit in the nation and the hype is unfair? Is there something magical about a first exhibition game that reveals the unfairness when before that the hype was totally appropriate? Evidently Bill Self didn't think the hype was unfair when he allowed and encouraged Wiggins to do GQ, SI, and others. His words were, "It's good for the program." No. No points missed here.

Ryan Houston 7 years, 2 months ago

I know Wiggins didn't ask for all the hype. That being said, he didn't look like a guy that could step out on a NBA court Tuesday night, and dominate a game. He did score 16 points, but you also have to remember that it was against a division ll team. Which I wouldnt start chalking up anything about his scoring ability yet. I would expect Wiggins to average around 16 points a game. But, we may see some 25 - 30 point games, on a good shooting night. Compared to MacLemore, he wasn't as highly flying and impressive his first game. Even though Mac was a red shirt freshman. Which would bring me to my main point. Wiggins needs another year with Self. He needs to let his body mature a bit. He did show very small glimpses of his potential. He needs to work hard, harder than ever to get NBA ready in just 1 year.

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 2 months ago

He has had all of about 3 months with Self and he needs 1 more year?

Forget about it dude. Come April of next year he'll be gone training for the draft and he'll still be the #1 pick.

Jeff Mills 7 years, 2 months ago

1) it's McLemore. I hate grammar and spelling police, but this is so annoying. Misspell all the words you want, who cares. But please get the guys' names right.

2) Ben scored 2 points on 0 field goals in his first exhibition game last year, so I'm not real sure how Wiggins wasn't as high flying or impressive. All that even though McLemore had already been here practicing and working out a lot longer than Wiggins.

3) Being ready to dominate an NBA game right now and being worthy of the top pick are two totally different things.

4) Deciding he needs a second year after his first jitter-packed exhibition game might be a little premature.

What I saw was a long, quick, ridiculous athlete with no glaring weaknesses in his game beyond some jitters.

Ryan Houston 7 years, 2 months ago

Wiggins going pro after 1 year might be a big mistake Wiggins doesn’t come from a poor family. He doesn’t need to get the big pay day right away like some other players in KU past. Wiggin’s size will be a huge, huge factor at the next level. . You need to be pretty sizeable to play in the NBA. For instance, Durant got shoved around his first year. It wasn’t until he put some weight on that he became somebody. . When LeBron went pro straight out of high school it was the right move. During LeBrons first year, he showed utter dominance. But a lot of that was due to his huge frame. Wiggins little flashy moves might be cool and all. But I doubt that all of it carries over into the pros. He will need time to develop more go to moves. I wouldn’t start cashing that one and done check yet. I could defiantly see him sticking around for another year.

Ryan Houston 7 years, 2 months ago

I get that Andrew will be gone after a year. And I get that you guys might have saw the game different then I did. I saw a pretty good player out there. But nothing that would make me say OMG, that guy is amazing. He had a couple nice moves. And big whoop on the ally op dunk. Everyone is acting like Wiggins is the second coming. I thought Mclemores put back dunk in what was it, the second or third game was much more athletic. I think MClemores game was a little bit better to. He would kill you on the perimeter, then once you started guarding him he would slash the inside. People aren’t giving him his dues, because he didn’t perform well in the tournament. I think Wiggins has all the talent in the world, I just don’t think his body is NBA ready. Plus, if this team where to stick together for 2-3 years. We could when maybe 2 – 3 national championships. And I don’t know why everyone is so sure Wiggins is leaving. Look at Marcus Smart, he could have been the 1st pick last year but he stayed. Im saying it’s a stretch, but it could happen.

Robert Brock 7 years, 2 months ago

If you watched his EYBL play, you know what he is capable of doing on the court. Right now, he needs to know how to fit into this program. He will do what it takes.

Ethan Berger 7 years, 2 months ago

From the replay I watched yesterday, there is one thing Wiggins posses that we haven't had in a long time. A guard/forward who can create his own shot off the dribble. I wondered what his mid-range game would be like, and I liked what I saw. He has some of the quickest offensive feet that I've seen. His defense needs work, but of course it does, he's 18 and played 1 game. But my goodness he has greatness written on him. He just needs to make sure that he doesn't take off games in the head and if he does, we have the best coach for handling that. O and his vertical is insane.

Craig Kristi Alexander 7 years, 2 months ago

I'm not concerned at all about Wiggins. Both he and Wayne had nerves like most freshman and acted like it. Once they get in their own groove, this will be a fast team that has lots of highlight reel dunks.

Bruce Beckum 7 years, 2 months ago

Wow Keeg's. My main takeaway from this piece? You're pissed because you haven't gotten an interview with him yet. I can understand that. All the big national folks and even those pesky Canucks? Must be galling. But while this piece is literally true (almost impossible to live up to the hype this kid was subjected to), the tone of this article is that Wiggins is a failure already. After one exhibition game. Btw, Keeg's, I've been a defender of--if not an apologist for--your work for some time.

Eliott Reeder 7 years, 2 months ago

I agree. That snide little comment about not being granted an interview yet was unnecessary and inappropriate. Get over yourself Keegan, get a job with SI or GQ and maybe you'll get an interview!

Mike George 7 years, 2 months ago

Keegan couldn't work for SI or GQ because he couldn't "be good enough to justify all the hoopla."

Matthew Pyle 7 years, 2 months ago

Maybe so, but it is silly for KU to change their policy over 1 player-- regardless of how good we think he MIGHT be. IMO, it just adds to the pressure on the kid... that he's bigger, better, etc......

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 2 months ago

Bruce, funny how we all got that idea. Seems like the target of the article is Self. Keegan. Since the content of the article is tiresom, Keegan is essentially saying to Self...."time for my one-on-one with Wiggins." I think it kinda funny. The guy has a job to do.

Jeffrey Nelson 7 years, 2 months ago

Keegan whenever I want to read something that's either pointless or poorly written, you never disappoint. I loved this article.

Dave Weroha 7 years, 2 months ago

For inquiring minds who want to know, to reliably compare Wiggins against former college elites, the last elite 1-and-done player was Kevin Durant. Through Durant's first 5 games below, his performance can be the measuring stick for Wiggins:

Alcorn State - 26 pts: 8/13 FG, 3/6 3PT, 1/2 FT Chicago State - 25 pts: 6/15 FG, 2/5 3PT, 7/8 FT Michigan State - 23 pts: 7/19 FG, 1/8 3PT, 6/7 FT St. John's - 39 pts: 9/17 FG, 5/6 3PT, 6/6 FT Nicholls - 23 pts: 8/15 FT, 1/4 3PT, 4/4 FT

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 2 months ago

Durant's first two games (exhibition) were against Lenoir-Rhyne and Xavier (La). He scored 16 and 11.

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