Andrew Wiggins has been labeled as one of the next 10 players that will redefine the game of basketball by DIME Magazine, suggesting that his time in college could be very short indeed.
Wiggins has to pick a college to attend first, though.
According to a recent Sports Illustrated piece by Eric Bossi, Wiggins has finished his official visits and his final four choices for colleges are Kansas, Florida State, North Carolina and Kentucky.
The Huntington Prep star is No. 1 on many college recruiting boards across the country, and would be welcome at any program in the nation. He's slated to play in both the McDonald's All-American and Jordan Brand games in the coming weeks, and a potential decision from the somewhat-reserved Wiggins during those games wouldn't be a complete surprise.
In any event, the four schools that are still in the running for the nation's top small forward are eager to add him to their recruiting class lists for the 2013 season. All four schools have pros and cons for Wiggins' choice, and here's a rundown of some of the things that Wiggins will look at closely when making his final decision.
While Kansas has not garnered the attention that the Kentucky Wildcats have with their recruiting class, Bill Self has quietly put together a group of incoming freshman that will rival whatever Kentucky's final list looks like.
A list that includes top prospects Joel Embiid (center), Brannen Greene (shooting guard) and Conner Frankamp (point guard) is a collection of some of the nation's top talent, and it's a list that will help Wiggins get over the potential loss of Jeff Withey, Ben McLemore, Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford, who all appear headed for greener pastures.
When it comes to college basketball, Kansas is a clear class above many other college programs.
Self and his staff consistently are on top of the Big 12 and are a threat to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament each year, in large part because of the talent they are able to add each year.
However, one of the potential road blocks to Wiggins joining the Jayhawks is the team's top recruit—small forward Wayne Selden. The two prospects play the same position, and Wiggins likely won't want to share the spotlight with a player of the same position. However, it could also make the team more dangerous on the wings and create matchup problems for opponents.
Kansas is very much in play for the best small forward in this year's class, even with another small forward already in tow.
The Noles only have two confirmed recruits for their incoming class, meaning that Wiggins would have a chance to be the true star when he walked on campus.
However, they are also losing senior stud Michael Snaer, and will have to infuse a high number of underclassmen for any kind of run toward the postseason during the 2013-14 season.
However, Florida State has a coaching staff that continually stays afloat despite not having marquee talent in the ACC, and also has three seven-footers (Boris Bojanovsky, Kiel Turpin and Michael Ojo) that could wreak havoc on the rest of the conference next season.
Wiggins would no-doubt be a starter from Day 1 for the Noles (as he would be at all of these schools), and the opportunity to play in Florida in a premier conference and be the "savior" of the program might all appeal to Wiggins.
When it comes to wing players, Roy Williams and the Tar Heels are no stranger to sending guys to the NBA.
If that's the end-game for Wiggins (which it obviously is), then North Carolina is an obvious choice to go and improve his skills for at least one season while playing with fellow athletes in a disciplined, NBA-ready environment.
Just look at a guy like Harrison Barnes, now starring for the Golden State Warriors in the NBA. Barnes came in as highly-touted as Wiggins, but chose to stay and extra year in college and refine his skills even more.
The result was great for Barnes, and Williams can also boast names like Wayne Ellington, Danny Green and Marvin Williams when talking about what he's done to get small forwards ready for the NBA.
Kennedy Meeks, the highly rated center in the 2013 class who has already committed to the Heels, is working his best to recruit Wiggins to campus (as reported by Sherrill McMillan of Scout.com). Meeks and Wiggins would form a formidable one-two punch in the North Carolina lineup, and would rival anything the rest of the ACC would throw at UNC next season.
On the flip side, Wiggins would take on the considerable weight of the Duke-UNC rivalry, and be judged by his team's record in those games. Who knows, Wiggins might like that challenge, especially if he's looking to play at a storied program like UNC. If that's the only downside from his commitment to the Heels, then North Carolina will be involved until the final day with Wiggins.
For starters, Wiggins would complete the most storied recruiting class in college basketball history if he wound up at Kentucky.
With Wiggins joining Aaron and Andrew Harrison, Dakari Johnson, James Young, Marcus Lee, Derrick Willis and newly signed Julius Randle, the Wildcats would officially be in contention for the 2014 title without any time together on the court.
That kind of depth is absolutely unheard of, and it makes the Wildcats one of the favorites for the best player in the country down to the final day.
However, would Wiggins want to come into this kind of logjam?
If he loves competition, the answer is yes. There's no guarantee Alex Poythress goes pro, and James White is also a talented small forward who John Calipari will have to work with next season. That kind of depth might scare off Wiggins, especially when a starting job is officially lined up at every other school he would attend.
For clarification, I think Wiggins would win the job at Kentucky outright. He has proven time and again during his high school career that he is a force, and has two or three more chances during showcases over the next few months.
Any of these schools would be great fits for the youngster from Canada, and he'll have some serious choices to make over the next few weeks and months. There's pros and cons at every school for every top prospects, only confounded by the media attention and celebrity status that high school stars garner these days.
No one has gotten more attention than Wiggins, and we'll see how that affects his college choice.
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