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.
McDonald’s All-Americans Lobbied Wiggins to Join Their Teams
By JEREMY WOO & DANIEL PONEMANSpecial to ZAGSBLOGCHICAGO — As the NCAA’s late signing period nears, one question looms in the minds of college hoops fans everywhere: whose jersey will Andrew Wiggins be wearing in the fall?
The 6-foot-8 Wiggins, the top overall 2013 prospect according to most major recruiting services, currently stands as the lone unsigned McDonalds All-American. The otherworldly athlete and skilled forward from outside Toronto has kept coaches on the edge of their seats since reclassifying as a senior last fall.
His list is down to four: Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina.
And of course, everyone wants him as a teammate. Wiggins’ immense talent will be a huge addition, no matter where he goes.
Last week at the McDonald’s All-American Game, his potential teammates made their cases.
“We already have a great class coming in,” says Kansas commit Wayne Selden, who will head to Lawrence along with the highly rated Joel Embiid, Brannen Greene and Connor Frankamp. “He can really develop with us and get ready for the next level.”
“North Carolina—it’s the best school for him,” argues future Tar Heel Kennedy Meeks.
Fellow All-American Isaiah Hicks and touted point guard prospect Nate Britt will also suit up for head coach Roy Williams this coming season.
“He fits the system with his style of play. He’s a team player, and he’ll fit in well,” Meeks said.
But it’s widely believed that Wiggins will choose between Florida State or Kentucky, two schools that have been in it from the beginning. Wiggins’ parents both attended Florida State, and earlier in the week his brother Nick told SNY.tv he believes that their parents favor the Seminoles for Andrew.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Wiggins’ teammate at Huntington (W.V.) Prep and with the CIA Bounce AAU team, has been in Andrew’s ear all season about joining him at Florida State.
Still, Kentucky’s tradition and winning pedigree with head coach John Calipari speaks for itself, and loudly. Perhaps the main question mark surrounding Wiggins and the Wildcats is this: with six All-Americans already in the fold, plus returners Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein and Kyle Wiltjer, are there enough shots to go around in Lexington?
The players seem to think so.
“We need him,” said small forward James Young. “The more great players, the easier it is for a national championship. If I have to come off the bench and score, that’s what I’ll do. It’s about the team.”
Power forward Julius Randle agrees. Any championship team requires individual sacrifice, and despite the high-profile of Kentucky’s group, he insists things will be no different, with or without Wiggins.
“I went because I knew there’d be a lot of other guys every day helping me get better,” Randle says. “Whatever I have to do to help my team win, that’s what I’m worried about. There were times when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist didn’t start and he was the second pick in the draft, so I don’t think that really matters.”
Randle, Kentucky’s most recent addition, was in a similar place just weeks ago. He understands the pressures that come with committing late in the game, and respects Wiggins’ position. Still, he couldn’t help but try and nudge his talented East teammate just a little.
“When I give him a good pass or throw him a lob, I tell him next year at Kentucky you’ll get this all the time,” he said. “I don’t really get into any serious conversations or put any pressure on him. I think he’s going to do what’s best for him and his family, so I wish him the best of luck.”
“You want to win a national championship, come to Kentucky,” Randle added. “Enough said.”
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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 whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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.