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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Keegan

Column: Wiggins still can, and will, improve

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins puts up a shot prior to tipoff against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins puts up a shot prior to tipoff against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Andrew Wiggins inspires a wide range of opinions about the way he plays basketball.

Why? So much talent, yet so much room for growth. Advertised so loudly by so many in what amounted to an arms race of superlatives.

Expectations mushroomed when Wiggins was featured by national magazines — ranging in emphasis from sports (Sports Illustrated, ESPN) to fashion (GQ) — newspapers and websites.

He didn’t ask for that, but when coach Bill Self told him the exposure would be good for the program, he obliged.

Anyone disappointed in Wiggins should remember he’s not the one who said he was the greatest thing since the invention of the Reese’s peanut butter cup, which he’s not. Nobody is.

In the aftermath of Monday’s 10-point victory vs. Baylor, Self offered his most unguarded assessment to date of Wiggins.

“I think he’s done well,” Self said. “I think that there’s another step he could take. He leaves me wanting more, so when people say certain things, I can’t be upset they’re saying them because he leaves me wanting more too.”

Self knows there is so much more in that long, 6-foot-8 body that moves so quickly, especially close to the hoop, when it looks as if he’s been shot out of a cannon.

Self’s next words put a road block to any thoughts that by “wanting more,” he solely meant more effort.

“I also think this: He’s also playing on the perimeter, he’s playing guard,” Self said. “He’s never played guard before. There are so many things going into it that have allowed him probably to be not as comfortable as what a lot of people would expect him to be immediately.”

That helps to explain why his handle lacks polish, which is why he doesn’t drive to the hoop as often as someone with his insane quickness should.

His guards skills are young and so too is Wiggins, 18. Physically, he’s on the slender side. Emotionally, he seems so well-grounded, his eyes and memory unpolluted by the sort of experiences others endure that can make them grow up too quickly.

“I think he’s so naive in so many ways,” Self said. “I don’t know that he thinks about that he’s everybody’s Super Bowl when they get a chance to play against him. I don’t know if he feels that. We tell him that, but I don’t know if he feels that yet. ... I do think there’s another step he can take.”

He will, and since Wiggins has such a long stride, when he does take that next step, complaints about the team’s leading scorer and best perimeter defender should fade to an inaudible whisper.

Comments

Ty Mar 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Wiggins is doing great for being forced to play out of his position. Self's teams are not designed for outstanding talent like Wiggins! Like some have said above, the small forward position seemingly does not exist in Self ball. KU ball under Bill Self is respectable but you're not going to see the OAD highlights you see on youtube or from the days of Julian Wright, it's going to be pass pass pass, shoot, rebound, pass pass pass pass, hook shot and a dunk in transition every so often.

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Mike Barnhart 2 months, 3 weeks ago

In 2006 Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer all skipped the NBA draft and returned to Florida to DEFEND their national title. Horford and Noah's parents were former athletes with money in the bank.

I think Embiid and Wiggins have similar family situations to Noah and Horford... just saying!

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Caleb Longbine 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I think they should let these guys go to the nba after 1 year but the nba should withhold big millon dollar contracts for these 1st round draft picks until a guy is playing at least 10 min a game on a roster. im tired of seeing guys like xavier henry dispear for 3 years before he really starts showing up in the nba. the nba isnt for development thats when its show up or get out.

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Ron Prichard 2 months, 3 weeks ago

“I think he’s done well,” Self said. “I think that there’s another step he could take. He leaves me wanting more, so when people say certain things, I can’t be upset they’re saying them because he leaves me wanting more too.”

Self is so unbelievably smart and good at what he does it is just amazing. He knows Wiggins has been good. He is KU's best lock down defender, he has all the physical talent in the world, he has shown flashes of greatness. However, Self doesn't want Wiggins to score 17 with a stat line of 1-5 from three and 12 free throws. Self wants 17 points with 2-3 from three, 3 free throws, and 4 dunks/short jumpers. Finish at the rim. Be strong. Be assertive.

Self knows that is the Wiggins that is lurking just under the surface but just hasn't shown himself consistently. Rarely this year has Self made any public comments that could be even seen as slightly critical of Wiggins. He has pumped him up again and again. I am sure in practice he is as hard on him as anyone, but not publicly. But I think Self senses it is time for Wiggins to take that next step and he is turning up the pressure--ever so gently--to try and get a response.

I may be in the minority, but I see so much more in these comments from Self than just an answer to a reporter's question. He is a master at motivating his team and getting the best out of each player. At different times, he has worked on Selden, Greene, Tharpe, Ellis (last year), and now Wiggins. I think you will see major improvement in the next few games.

How scary will KU be then? I feel like Peter Griffin when he laughs like he thinks he's the only one in on the joke and he just can't wait to see the reaction.

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Erich Hartmann 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Finishing order of BigXII (projected), fun intended:

Jayhoax, ChokieState, Choklahoma, KSuck, IoWeakState, Tayhoss, TubbyTekkies, Faylor, WhoVA, TCwho.

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Yolanda Gay 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Wiggins needs several years of improvement. He's not strong enough to take it to the basket with authority. When he dribbles, he loses the ball. He needs a mid-range jumper. He can't rely on open 3 pointers and put backs.

I wonder why Self plays kids out of position. I know his emphasis is what's best for KU; but if the purpose is to get them ready for the next level, why not play them where they will be playing in the NBA?

If Wiggins does goes to the NBA, he'll be in the D-league or sitting on the bench getting mob up minutes. Like someone said earlier, if the money is there and he wants to go, that's fine. It should be his choice.

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Erich Hartmann 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Regarding Selden + Embiid + Wiggins as a group (along with Mason), I think Self is showing he can integrate frosh VERY well. There will be up/down games for each because simply they are frosh!!. Try to enjoy this run, folks. It will be over before yall blink...

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Erich Hartmann 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Sick and tired of people overly judging Wiggins. He does lead his team in ppg, for the season. The TV announcer during the KState game (either Fraschilla or Mustyberger) said it best: "...actually Wiggins should still be in high school...he reclassified because he was way ahead academically, and it was an option for him to move up a year..." So we are busy wanting more, more, more from a kid who should still be in high school (chronologically + who knows mentally), while he is already taking it to grown men upperclassmen at the college level as best as he can.

So, we are busy judging a kid who has maybe as much potential (at a different position) as Embiid. McLemore was great, but he spent a year in Selfball, and our first view of BMac was in his 2nd year of college. I'd like to compare Wiggins' 2nd year with BMac, because right now it is an imperfect comparison. Physical age and physical + mental maturity (about all things basketball & mindset on-court) are things that take time. Look at MickeyD Perry Ellis last year, and he is as bright as they come, yet it took him time to assimilate what's needed at the college level. Give Wiggins a break, and try to enjoy his last 2.5mos in a Jayhawk uniform. I support him and his family no matter what. Great kid+family & at a great program. Give him time. Let him have some college fun.

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Joe Ross 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Honestly now, Wiggins should stay another year. I am the same person that said that Ben McLemore should definitely go, so I hope that gives me a little street cred in selfless opinion. McLemore had one year on the court, but 2 years in the system. He played that amount of time against great competition like Thomas Robinson, Jeff Withey, and others. And there are all sorts of other intangibles that make some kids ready to make the jump and others not that i wouldn't even have the intelligence to address. Even if Wiggins does perform to expections for the two months remaining in his season, I don't know that his confidence level is ready. Let's face it, Wiggins has off-the-charts potential. But you want that potential to begin to be polished at the college level. Here's what's crazy. Wiggins might even have a scoring average that's higher than McLemore's. I don't know that to be true, but less say that it is. Even in that case, that particular number is NOT what should drive the decision to stay or go. In ALL cases such as these--including Embiid and Selden--one should start by asking how near is the player to his potential (80% is a good number), how ready are they mentally in terms of confidence, how knowledgeable are they in terms of the position they are playing, and is there a financial need? The answer to every one of these questions for all three players comes down to STAYING. Maybe with the exception of Selden and his financial need. Wiggins is, in fact, probably the furthest from his potential than any of the others. This guy has freakish ability to take over games and he's just not there yet. Now people will call me crazy for saying he should stay when he's probably a top 3 pick, and yet Wiggins has pleasantly surprised before with the ability to make a heady choice over the glitz and glamour of Calipari's recruiting machine in choosing Kansas over Kentucky. Part of the problem is that I suppose few people are whispering in his ear the possibility that staying might be good for his game. People are sometimes sacrificed on the altar of others' good intentions. I don't want Wiggins to be a lamb.

He needs to stay.

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Kye Clark 2 months, 3 weeks ago

"he's playing guard." Self said.

This is puzzling to me. I understand that often the talent & size of that talent on the roster lends itself to a 3-guard line-up, but if 6-8 Andrew Wiggins isn't playing the small forward, then the position just doesn't exist in Self's offense. Am I missing something there? If he isn't playing the small forward/3 position, why not?

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Suzi Marshall 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Keegan...reallly ...."greatest thing since the invention of the Reese’s peanut butter cup" Are you serious? Think of those with alergies to peanut butter and those poor souls that don't like chocolate. Also it does not contain carmel or any kind of nut.

By the way, I'm thinking Wiggins and Embiid should stay another year.

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Scut Farkus 2 months, 3 weeks ago

He is exactly what I thought he would be. A young, extremely talented player that needs to hone his skills and fit into the KU team concept. Anybody who bought into the media hype is either naive or stupid. I am very pleased with his progress and more importantly, the growth of the rest of the team.

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Brett McCabe 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Look out Big 12, a storms' a coming!

Remember Perry from last year? Remember Danny's development? When Andrew starts facing Big 12 teams on the second go around, I'm convinced that we are going to see something special.

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Jeffrey Nelson 2 months, 3 weeks ago

This editorial took 5 minutes to write.

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Bernard Gregory 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Hopefully that Coach Self tells all the guys what he told Frank on his first visit and that is that you will never be the best player that played for Kansas that honor goes to Wilt.This should take some of the pressure off the 5 star players to just be the best that they are.

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