Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Exclusive: Wiggins Says Kentucky, Florida State ‘After Me the Hardest’
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Maybe it was the fact that he was coming off a 12-point performance Friday in Canada’s win over Brazil.
Maybe it was the charged environment inside Episcopal High School featuring virtually every major college coach in the country.
Maybe it was the chance to go up against his rival, Virginia wing Troy Williams.
Whatever it was, Andrew Wiggins put on a show here Saturday afternoon in notching a team-best 23 points and 7 rebounds as Canada edged USA East, 101-96, in overtime at the Nike Global Challenge to remain undefeated (2-0) at the event.
“I know [Friday] wasn’t my best game so I had to get more focused, come out hard,” Wiggins told SNY.tv in an exclusive interview following the game.
“[On Friday] I tried to turn it on by myself, so I needed to attack the basket first and everything else will follow off of that. That’s what I tried to do today during the game.”
The 6-foot-7 Wiggins had support from his teammates with Xavier-Rathan Mayes scoring 21 points, Indiana commit Trey Lyles adding 15 points and 11 rebounds and uncommitted point guard Tyler Ennis adding 10 points before fouling out.
Still, one day after Lyles was his team’s best player, Wiggins was the star for Canada by relentlessly attacking the basket and hitting mid-range jumpers. He went 9-for-18 from the floor and 5-of-8 from the line.
“He’s the best player here, obviously,” one NBA scout in attendance told SNY.tv. “He’s got the best pro potential. Athlete, Can score in a number of ways. He showed a little post-up game in the last game, but he’s got the most upside of any player here, it’s not even close.”
Wiggins was matched down the stretch by uncommitted 2014 wing Theo Pinson, who went for 23 points and 10 rebounds for USA East. Cat Barber added 16 points and Williams had 12.
“It was a good game, well fought game,” Wiggins said. “Both of our teams compete. Theo Pinson played really great for the other team. We had to find a way to stop him. He contributed to his team well. It was a good game.”
A Who’s Who of college coaches watched the back-and-tuck affair, including Kentucky’s John Calipari, Kansas’ Bill Self, North Carolina’s Roy Williams, Michigan STate’s Tom Izzo, Indiana’s Tom Crean, Ohio State’s Thad Matta, UCLA’s Ben Howland, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Baylor’s Scott Drew, Alabama’s Anthony Grant, Memphis’ Josh Pastner, Pitt’s Jamie Dixon, Seton Hall’s Kevin Willard and more.
Wiggins said he tries not to focus on the coaches while he’s playing, though.
“I only try to look into the crowd before the game,” he said. “After that I try to focus on the game.”
As far as recruiting, he lists Kentucky, Florida State, North Carolina, Syracuse and Duke.
“There’s a lot but those are the ones that are recruiting me the hardest, but there’s still other schools,” Wiggins said.
As previously reported by SNY.tv, Wiggins said Kentucky and Florida State are “after me the hardest.”
Kentucky was the first school to recruit him and both his parents went to FSU.
Wiggins says he’s not planning on reclassifying from 2014 to 2013 at the moment.
“Now I’m not,” he said.
But he doesn’t rule out reconsidering that choice later on after discussing it with his parents. His father, Mitchell Wiggins, played in the NBA, and his mother, Marita Payne, was a Canadian Olympic track star.
“If I do [discuss reclassifying] it will be with my parents,” Wiggins said.
For now, though, he’s only focused on winning this event. Canada plays a winnable game against China later Saturday before elimination rounds begin Sunday.
“”It would mean a lot to me to this win event,” Wiggins said. “Canada’s never won it before so we’d be the first group to win. It would be great.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.