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.
Freshmen Focus: NBA Still High on Wiggins Despite Lackluster Play
Despite his lackluster play last week in the Bahamas, NBA executives and scouts are still understandably high on Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins.
“His status isn’t about what he IS, it’s about what he CAN become,” one NBA GM who would take Wiggins No. 1 overall told SNY.tv.
Wiggins averaged just 8 points and 5 rebounds in Kansas’ last two games in the Bahamas — a loss to eventual champion Villanova and a win over UTEP — but by all accounts he was very ill.
“He was sick the whole trip but he still has to play and bring it,” said a source close to the Kansas program.
Some NBA types maintain that Duke’s Jabari Parker is the more complete player at this stage and would take him No. 1.
“I take Jabari every time,” one NBA assistant told SNY.tv over the weekend. “Ready to play, a winner, great kid, can shoot. He has tremendous upside and has performed when the lights were on.”
Still, a general consensus seems to exist that Wiggins has a higher ceiling going forward.
“Up to this point he’s certainly not living up to the media hype,” one former NBA GM said of Wiggins. “He is not ready to turn around any NBA team right now. Down the road 2-3 years yes, but not now.”
Said an NBA scout: “All [the freshmen] are great talents, Wiggins has the best upside.”
Said the NBA GM: “Just remember who the highest-rated high school player was three years ago and looked like a train wreck in college [Andre Drummond] and who looked great in college [Michael Kidd-Gilchrist] and hasn’t done s*&t [in the NBA].”
Kansas has a critical four-game stretch coming up with games at Colorado and at Florida before returning to play New Mexico in Kansas City and Georgetown in Lawrence. All eyes will be on Wiggins, who hopefully feels better and shows what he’s capable of.
With that in mind, here’s a brief breakdown of the four top freshmen and what they’ve been doing and what’s ahead. In future weeks, we will feature other top freshmen, including Kansas’ Joel Embiid and Wayne Selden, Kentucky’s James Young and Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Indiana’s Noah Vonleh, Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis, LSU’s Jordan Mickey and others:
**ANDREW WIGGINS, 6-8 SF, KansasStats: 14.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.1 apg
Next 3 games: Saturday at Colorado, Dec. 10 at Florida, Dec. 14 vs. New Mexico.
Mock Drafts: Draft Express No. 1, The Big Lead No. 1.
What to read:Calipari Expands on Wiggins’ Recruitment.
**JULIUS RANDLE, 6-9 PF, KentuckyStats: 18.1 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 1.6 apg
Next 3 games: Friday vs. Baylor (Arlington, TX), Dec. 10 vs. Boise State, Dec. 14 at North Carolina.
Mock Drafts: Draft Express No. 2, The Big Lead No. 2.
What to read:Magic, Jalen Say Randle Should be No. 1 Pick.
**JABARI PARKER, 6-8 SF, DukeStats: 23.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.0 apg
Next 3 games: Tuesday vs. Michigan, Dec. 16 vs. Gardner-Webb, Dec. 19 vs. UCLA (Madison Square Garden).
Mock Drafts: Draft Express No. 3, The Big Lead No. 3.
What to read:NBA Assistant: Jabari Parker Would Help Multiple Playoff Teams This Year.
Duke’s Parker Can Envision Playing with Okafor Next Year**AARON GORDON, 6-9 PF, ArizonaStats: 12.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.6 apg
Next 3 games: Tuesday vs. Texas Tech, Saturday vs. UNLV, Dec. 11 vs. New Mexico State.
Mock Drafts: Draft Express No. 6, The Big Lead No. 7.
What to read:Guard Play has Arizona Poised for Big March.
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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.