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.
Wiggins Dunks, Scores 16 in Debut; Young, Randle Impress in Kentucky Scrimmage
Expect to hear a lot about the high-profile freshmen at Kansas and Kentucky this season, especially since they figure to dominate the 2014 NBA Draft.
Kansas phenom Andrew Wiggins made his debut Tuesday night in an exhibition game, going for 16 points and 6 rebounds, including this highlight-reel, two-handed dunk, in a 97-57 exhibition victory over Pittsburg State.
“That is a set play,” Kansas point guard Naadir Tharpetold the Kansas City Star. “Don’t tell anybody.”
Wiggins wasn’t all dunks and highlights in his debut.
“He traveled on his first possession, clanked his first two three-pointers and generally looked like a freshman playing his first college minutes on a totally rebuilt Kansas team,” the Star wrote.
“He was definitely nervous,” Tharpe said. “It’s only right.”
Said Kansas coach Bill Self: “He’s gotta get comfortable. But he’s thinking too much, which takes away from his explosiveness. …
“To me, you look up, he’s got 16 points and he really didn’t play that much and really didn’t make any shots. And that’s pretty positive to me.”
Meantime, Wiggins-sanity is in full effect in his native Canada as Canadian sports cable channel TSN will feature every Kansas game this season.
“As the top prospect in basketball and now a Sports Illustrated cover star, the excitement surrounding Andrew Wiggins is soaring,” Shawn Redmond, vp programming at TSN of Wiggins, told the Hollywood Reporter.
Meantime, Kentucky held its annual Blue-White Scrimmage where freshmen James Young and Julius Randle made headlines.
Kentucky coach John Calipari has been hyping Young all preseason and he didn’t disappoint, finishing with 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting to go with seven steals, three assists, three rebounds and a block.
“I had a lot of confidence, but I guess it’s just growing even more,” Young said, according to Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal. “I can play with these guys, too, and people are finally noticing that.”
Said Calipari according to the Winchester Sun: “James Young is what he is. That’s what you saw today. What James Young could be is. … forget about just scoring the ball and getting to the rim. He can really defend. He comes up with balls and steals.”
As of now, Young is projected as 2015 NBA Draft pick by DraftExpress.com, but that could change this year, with Young potentially proving he’s one-and-done.
Randle is presumed to be one-and-done, and right now is the projected No. 2 pick in 2014 behind Wiggins.
Randle went for 21 points and 8 rebounds — including several dunks and improved play from the perimeter — while playing alongside Young, the Harrison twins and Willie Cauley-Stein on the Blue team.
“We played really well today,” said Randle, according to CoachCal.com. “Everyone was really unselfish. Things can kind of get haywire when you’re out in front of a big crowd like that, but I think everybody was composed and played well.”
Meantime, New York native and former St. Patrick and Montverde standout Dakari Johnson was no slouch, either, kicking in with 15 points and 9 boards.
“Was my statement (about seven or eight guys being capable of scoring 25 points in a game) an exaggeration?” Calipari said. “We could have as many as seven, eight guys do that. And so if someone is doing it you can’t let it affect you. Just play basketball, defend, rebound.”
**For previous articles on Andrew Wiggins, click here.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, 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.