The nation’s top basketball recruit has a lot to consider when choosing a new home. Postseason performances shouldn’t factor into his decision.
Andrew Wiggins of Huntington Prep is widely regarded as college basketball’s premier prospect. Rated a perfect 100 by 247Sports, the 6’8” forward has plenty of suitors lobbying for his services in 2013. Kansas, Kentucky, Florida State and North Carolina are among them.
While postseason success is sometimes indicative of a program’s future, none of Wiggins’ top choices have a history of tournament failure. Kansas and North Carolina are perennial contenders—as is Kentucky despite an uncharacteristically poor year and a trip to the NIT. Even Florida State secured its first ACC title last season.
The allure of major-program basketball is hard to escape, especially for the country’s top recruits. In a one-and-done culture, every player wants to put himself in a position to make the most of a potentially short collegiate career.
According to Eric Bossi of SI.com, Wiggins finished his official visits in mid-March with a trip to North Carolina for the team’s late-season contest against Duke. While the Tar Heels failed to come away with a victory in that contest, Wiggins’ coach at Huntington Prep, Rob Fulford, suggests the star forward won’t be swayed by a single win or loss:
He understands that teams don't win every game and it's not ideal to have recruits on campus for a game in that fashion. But he gets that and he had a really good time. He knows Kennedy Meeks pretty well and talks to him some. He also knows some of those other guys, so he was still able to have a good time.
Still, a regular-season loss doesn’t quite compare to a failed tournament run or missed NCAA tournament berth. Those factors have to play into Wiggins’ decision on some level.
There’s a case to be made for that type of thinking, but not in this situation. Wiggins is choosing between four terrific schools, each with the potential to win a lot of games in any given season.
Every player has a varied list of priorities. Coaching, playing time, stability—and of course, the academic aspects—have to be parts of Wiggins’ decision when choosing his destination. While only he can determine which of those factors are most important, none of them will change as drastically as fleeting success or abrupt failure at the end of this college basketball season.
Wiggins has a lot going for him, and perhaps tournament performance won’t play any factor in his final decision. If he’s lucky, the bright lights and fanfare of tournament appearances and postseason wins won’t at all affect how he makes his decision, but the same certainly can’t be said for so many recruits who have flocked to select programs based on short-term success without regard for more important factors.
Given the opportunity for so many stars to leave the college basketball ranks early, Wiggins may soon become another superstar who dominates the college game for a year before turning pro, further contributing to the short-term success of one of the top programs.
There’s nothing wrong with that approach.
In fact, doing so would be all the more reason for Wiggins to make sure he gets it right, weighing his options without regard for what a couple big games in March this season would mean for his future as a college basketball player.