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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Wiggins preps for NBA draft, lottery

In this May 21, 2013 file photo, NBA basketball team representatives sit onstage at the start of the NBA draft lottery in New York. The draft lottery is Tuesday, May 20, and the winner gets the No. 1 pick in next month’s draft. Kansas University teammates and possible top selections Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid will be attending the lottery ceremony, according to media reports, and former Jayhawks Marcus and Markieff Morris will represent the Phoenix Suns.

In this May 21, 2013 file photo, NBA basketball team representatives sit onstage at the start of the NBA draft lottery in New York. The draft lottery is Tuesday, May 20, and the winner gets the No. 1 pick in next month’s draft. Kansas University teammates and possible top selections Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid will be attending the lottery ceremony, according to media reports, and former Jayhawks Marcus and Markieff Morris will represent the Phoenix Suns.

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Former Kansas University basketball standouts Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid soon will know a lot more about where they might be playing basketball next season.

The NBA will hold its annual lottery at 7 tonight on ESPN, before an Eastern Conference final game between Indiana and Miami.

Wiggins and Embiid are expected to be taken somewhere in the top three of the June 26 draft, meaning the last teams announced tonight will signify likely destinations of the Jayhawk duo. Wiggins and Embiid are expected to attend the lottery ceremony, according to DraftExpress.com’s Jonathan Givony. Former KU players Marcus and Markieff Morris will be in attendance, too, representing the Phoenix Suns.

“It’s my first time going through something like this where I don’t get to pick my destiny. I’m very excited,” Wiggins, a 6-foot-8 shooting guard from Ontario, Canada, said Monday on ESPN Radio’s Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo show.

He was asked specifically about the chances of playing for Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers, who are represented in the lottery after a disappointing season.

“That would be something great, being under his wing,” said Wiggins. “I’d be learning a lot. That would be something crazy. I consider Kobe next to Mike (Michael Jordan) the best ever, just in my opinion.”

Wiggins, who also appeared on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” on Monday, spoke glowingly about his one year in college.

“It was my happiest year on the planet since I was born,” Wiggins told Van Pelt and Russillo of his time in Lawrence. “That’s like home to me, really. Walking in the fieldhouse gives you chill bumps. It’s a crazy feeling to be there, in that situation, be under a legendary coach like Bill Self and play with the teammates I had. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. I’ll never forget anything about it.

“I can understand why players stay all four years in college. College is fun. There’s nothing like it at all,” Wiggins added. “If I could erase time and replay every day back in Kansas, I would. You know that can’t happen. That’s how fun Kansas is to me.”

Wiggins was asked on “SportsCenter” if part of him wishes there were a rule requiring him to stay at KU another year. “Yeah. I’m only 19. Every day I think about college. It really was the best time of my life at Kansas. I enjoyed it so much. It was one of a kind,” he said.

“I couldn’t really picture myself going to the NBA after high school. I think that would have been a mess for me. I wouldn’t have been (ready).”

Asked to sum up what he learned at KU, Wiggins said: “I was always a good on-the-ball defender, but I learned how to play defense off the ball. I learned the pick-and-roll game, just how to take advantage of certain situations. Also a lot of the mental part. Staying true to who I am. Coach Self at the end of the year really brought out the dog in me. That’s why I started playing better at the end of the year. He really made me just get focused.”

Wiggins remains atop Chad Ford’s ESPN “Big Board” entering today’s lottery, with Embiid No. 2 and Duke’s Jabari Parker No. 3.

“Being from a different country ... being selected first or even in the top three in a whole different country is a blessing to me,” Wiggins said.

“I think it was important before, but right now I think going No. 1 would just be like a label. I’ve noticed a lot of great players didn’t go No. 1 and still ended up being one of the best ever or hall of famers.”

None of the projected top three players attended the recent NBA Combine in Chicago. Wiggins explained his reasoning.

“I was going to go, but other top players did not go, so me and my agent and my parents talked about it. We decided not to go,” Wiggins said.

Instead, he released a picture of his vertical-measurement test. The picture of a high-flying Wiggins went viral on the Internet.

“They thought it would be a good idea to show I’m not taking time off. I’m working out every day doing the same stuff (they did at Combine),” he added. “I’m just doing it on my own time, working out in L.A. and Santa Barbara.”

Wiggins Day: June 26 has been declared “Andrew Wiggins Day” in Wiggins’ hometown of Vaughan, Ontario, Canada, as reported by ourwindsor.ca. City commissioners voted to name the day after Wiggins, whose college games were all televised in Canada this past season. Gus Gymnopoulos, Wiggins’ coach at Vaughan Secondary School, called it “a phenomenal thing.”

“I think he would be much appreciative of that honor and that designation coming from the City of Vaughan,” Gymnopoulos told the website. “I know he’s very partial to Vaughan, having been raised here.”

Councilor Alan Shefman, of Vaughan’s Thornhill district, offered the resolution.

“I think it’s really important that we recognize excellence and, secondly, recognize people that have the potential to be heroes to young people in our community,” Shefman told ourwindsor.ca. “Andrew Wiggins, a Vaughan kid playing ball at one of our local high schools and growing up in our community, is a great example of somebody who can, through his athletic ability, become not only a hero, but a role model for people.”

To read the story, go online to http://ljw.bz/1jxyp5c.

No news on Mykhailiuk: All is quiet on the Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk recruiting front. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Ukraine visited KU over the weekend and reportedly had a great visit. He headed to Virginia on Sunday with no word yet on his visit there. His coaches have yet to put out word if he’ll be making any more visits. Michigan, Oregon and North Carolina had been listed as possibilities. Reportedly, he still is seriously considering playing pro ball next season in Europe. KU has two scholarships left to give in recruiting.

Comments

Brett McCabe 5 years, 6 months ago

Love the fact that Andrew is really pumping KU in his interviews. It genuinely sounds as if "Life in the Phog" had a big impact on him.

Jack Wilson 5 years, 6 months ago

Completely agree. It was weird, when I watched the interview, it sounded as if he felt that he had to leave. Like one and done was the rule, not the choice. And it seemed clear that he would have loved to have stayed longer.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 6 months ago

Didn't watch the interview ,but have seen others where Andrew indicated that he did love KU and would love to stay there longer, but realized that going pro was a business decision that needed to be made. I'm sure that some of it is a matter of expectations, and his realization of his responsibility as a role model.

Eliott Reeder 5 years, 6 months ago

Gus Gymnopoulos has to be one of the best b-ball coaches names I've ever heard...

Travis Clementsmith 5 years, 6 months ago

Look, I get the Lakers may not be a favorite, but you have to look at this from a broader perspective. The Lakers are a worldwide commodity. If Wiggins goes to the Lakers and becomes the future face of that organization, that means nothing but great residual things for KU. I'm quite sure Kobe could teach him a few things about on the court issues. Not only technique, but what it means to carry yourself like a champion. I'm sure Wiggins' own upbringing will guide him in his off the court decisions. I don't mean this to sound like its a plug for the Lakers. He get the same thing if Boston were lucky enough to get him. But think of it this way, when you imagine Chamberlain as a pro, you envision him with the Lakers jersey because that's who he won a championship with.

Mick Allen 5 years, 6 months ago

Wilt also won one championship with the 76'ers.

Freedman Moor 5 years, 6 months ago

Don't forget the Heat. Birdman was the target of a federal child porn investigation.

Andy Tweedy 5 years, 6 months ago

When I read Wiggins comments about Kansas, it's hard not to think about how great a place it is. Every time I go back in the fall it brings back so many special memories and makes me feel fortunate that I was able to spend four years in such an awesome place! There really is no place like it!!!

Tony Bandle 5 years, 6 months ago

Andy, I'll go you one better....the KU Bachelor of Architecture program is a five year term so I got in an extra year and it was great.

Last weekend, I was in Lawrence for my niece's Free State high school graduation party [she's going to KU of course, just like her two older sisters and her Mom and Dad and her two Uncles], and, after the 43 years since I left, every time I return, the city and campus still remain totally awesome!!!

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 6 months ago

We fee the same way. Our son will be a Junior in Petroleum Engineering, of course. It's great to see that he has developed similar affections for Lawrence and The University.

Tony Bandle 5 years, 6 months ago

Rumor has it that the Toronto Raptors are going to offer a king's ransom in trade to whomever drafts Andrew. This would supposedly include this year's #1 and #2 for Toronto plus several future #1 and #2 draft picks, players and cash due to the rapid interest in a native Canadien in the NBA.......we'll see!!

Freedman Moor 5 years, 6 months ago

Toronto sells the farm and then Wiggins puts on a wedding dress and poses with the head coach on the cover of SI.

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