For those who were unfamiliar with Andrew Wiggins' brilliance, Wednesday night's McDonald's All-American Game was as good of an introduction as any.
The nation's consensus No. 1 recruit poured in 19 points, scoring in a multitude of ways in a game where Wiggins' sheer presence overshadowed all involved. Though his East team lost to the West, 110-99, and Wiggins lost the game MVP to Aaron Gordon, the message was clear: The hype is very real, and very deserved.
That 19-point night followed Wiggins' unbelievable performance at the event's dunk contest, where he executed flawless dunks that put every 2013 NBA competitor to shame. In his introduction to the mainstream world, Wiggins aced every test with flying colors.
The next time Wiggins will have the world watching will be when he makes his collegiate decision. His choices—Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina and Florida State—have been known for months. But there has been no inkling of which way he's leaning, nor has the 18-year-old Canadian import even set a definitive decision date.
With no word coming on the when or where of Wiggins' decision, let's take the time we have remaining to focus on the why. Namely, the biggest draw each of these schools have on the nation's most hyped recruit since LeBron James.
Here is a complete breakdown of the biggest "pros" in favor of each of Wiggins' remaining considerations.
Kentucky: A Chance at College Basketball History
There has been a ton of ballyhooing about John Calipari's otherworldly recruiting job for the Class of 2013. While, in most cases, feigning over a recruiting class is an overwrought spring fling that subsides quicker than a summer romance, Kentucky could be on the precipice of history.
According to 247 Sports, Calipari has landed three of the nation's top-four recruits. Forward Julius Randle, the nation's second-best player, committed to Kentucky on March 20, joining twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison, who round out the top four in that order.
The lone remaining straggler in that top four is Wiggins, who would certainly give Kentucky the best recruiting class since Michigan's "Fab Five"—and possibly the best ever. Adding Wiggins to the equation means Kentucky would have the nation's top four recruits and seven of the 13 best players in a class that's considered loaded by just about every national pundit.
Just in terms of freshmen, Kentucky would have a national championship favorite. But the Wildcats aren't just bringing in a bevy of new guys—they're also returning some pretty notable names. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kyle Wiltjer and Alex Poythress all announced they would be coming back to Lexington next season, giving this roster depth that hasn't been seen since John Wooden's heyday.
That's a fact Wiggins is well aware of. As Adam Zagoria of NBA.com noted, the nation's top prep star guaranteed a national championship if he were to become a Wildcat:
Adam Zagoria @AdamZagoria
Wiggins: 'If I went to [Kentucky], we'd win it all for sure' http://t.co/iILrE9qFyR @22wiggins4/1/2013, 3:50:40 AM
Even without Wiggins, Kentucky has the chance to reclaim favorite status in 2013-14. But Wiggins arriving at Lexington almost wouldn't be fair. The Wildcats would have superstar status on par with the Miami Heat in the NBA, bringing a level of excitement to college basketball that hasn't been seen in decades.
Granted, how these players mesh on a court and how their minutes would be distributed remains a perplexing question. It's just one that Calipari would have a whole lot of fun answering.
Kansas: A Consistent, Winning Pedigree
Bill Self does not lose basketball games—at least not often. The last time the Jayhawks coach missed the NCAA tournament or failed to win 20 games was in the 1997-98 season. He was in his first year at Tulsa at the time and Wiggins was just transitioning from diapers to pull-ups—the prep star was around three at the time.
Since that season, Self has been a nonstop juggernaut of regular-season consistency. Kansas has won 30 games in six of the past seven years under his stewardship, reaching the Sweet 16 in all but one of those campaigns, including the Jayhawks' national title in 2008.
That's a level of consistency no other school or coach can boast, including March darling John Calipari. Self has built a collegiate empire quietly, without landing every top-ranked recruit in the nation or even becoming a rockstar individual name. He's mentioned among the nation's best coaches, just usually after you get through the Caliparis, Krzyzewskis, Izzos and Pitinos of the world.
Self just accumulates 30-win seasons like yearly physicals and moves on about his day.
While that may initially be "unattractive" to a player of Wiggins' stature, the Canadian star has maintained winning is his No. 1 priority. In an interview with USA Today prior to the McDonald's All-American game, Wiggins "matter-of-factly" made his desires known.
“But I just want to end by saying that I love all the schools," Wiggins said. "They’re all the same. At the end of the day, I just wanna play ball, man. I just wanna win at all costs. I wanna win a lot next year.”
If glitz, glamour and pageantry are his things, Wiggins won't be in Lawrence next season. But if he's only concerned with winning as he said, Self's résumé at Kansas speaks for itself.
Florida State: Continuing a Legacy and Long-Lasting Relationship
Even prior to Andrew's ascent to national fame, the Wiggins family was royalty at Florida State.
Andrew's father, Mitchell, played shooting guard for the basketball team from 1981-83 before becoming a first-round NBA draft pick. Mitchell Wiggins was a superstar for those Seminoles teams, averaging more than 20 points per game, with his 23.8-point average in 1982-83 being the second best in school history. He was also inducted to the school's Hall of Fame in 1994.
Not to be outdone, Andrew's mother, Marita, was once a world-class track-and-field athlete for the Seminoles. A blazing fast runner in the 400 meters, Marita won a national championship in the event in 1984—the same year she captured two Olympic silver medals for Canada in the Los Angeles Games. She finished her career in Tallahassee with 21 All-American NCAA All-American honors and was inducted into the Florida State Hall of Fame in 1991.
See, Andrew would not be simply following in mommy and daddy's footsteps like a good boy. He would be a grown Simba reclaiming the throne rightfully bestowed upon him. The Wiggins family isn't just a duo of great athletes that came, saw and conquered—they're an everlasting brand.
Also long-lasting and well-formed is Andrew's relationship with Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton. The two have grown extremely close over the years, and Wiggins has oftentimes cited Hamilton—not his parents—as the biggest reason he's considering becoming a Seminole. According to Dave Telep of ESPN, Wiggins noted on April 1 that he feels "comfortable" around the 64-year-old coach:
If Wiggins is planning a standard one-and-done affair as expected, those are the biggest overarching reasons for him to sign with Florida State. He won't have to deal with any discomfort on campus due to it being a part of his life for so long, and he could team with Hamilton to reinvigorate a program his father was once the face of.
Even with Wiggins, the Seminoles probably aren't winning a national championship. But continuing the forging of a family-laid path has to be enticing.
North Carolina: Being the No. 1 Guy at Storied Program, Continuation of Jabari Parker "Rivalry"
If Wiggins wants the alpha dog status he would have at Florida State to go along with the mainstream cache of Kentucky and Kansas, then his choice is clear.
North Carolina not only gives Wiggins a chance to see how far he—not a prep hoops version of the Monstars—can carry a team but a chance to join a long lineage of great Tar Heels. Chapel Hill's past-player appeal is large, and we've all heard the names before—stretching from Michael Jeffrey Jordan all the way to Eric Montross.
Wiggins would walk into the Dean Dome expected to instantly follow those players, and he'd actually have an opportunity. Roy Williams' Class of 2013 leaves a little to be desired nationally, with Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks being the school's only top-50 players, per 247 Sports. And Meeks has already been hard on the recruiting trail, saying he'll bring Wiggins to Chapel Hill, according to Telep:
Outside of a chance at individual stardom at one of the nation's premier programs, there is also some storyline buzz that could be intriguing.
Perhaps this is more interesting from an outside, media perspective, but heading to Chapel Hill could continue a pseudo-rivalry Wiggins has had with Duke commit Jabari Parker. Let's be clear—the two have no actual rivalry that we know about. But they have battled for the empty distinction as the best player in prep basketball for the past few years, with Wiggins' reclassification to the Class of 2013 knocking Parker off a perch he had held seemingly forever.
By having these two future NBA stars attend schools that comprise the greatest rivalry in college hoops would be fantastic for all involved. Parker and Wiggins would face off no fewer than twice next season, battling their way to for an ACC crown the way so many former Blue Devils and Tar Heels have in the past.
At the very least, it would give NBA scouts a good idea which of the two top players should atop draft boards come June of 2014.
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