Andrew Wiggins Must Pick Florida State to Be Unquestioned No. 1 Option
High school prep star Andrew Wiggins has narrowed his choices down to four, and there's a good chance we find out which school he will be playing ball at next season before the May 15 NCAA deadline.
If Wiggins wants the true designation of being a go-to option, the unquestioned best player on his team and the chance to prove that he's truly a transcendent player during his freshman season in college, his choice is actually pretty simple.
The decision is Florida State.
Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina are the other three schools still officially in the mix for Wiggins, but the consensus around college basketball is that the Seminoles hold the edge going into the final few days of this recruiting saga.
247 Sports' No. 1 player in the 2013 recruiting class, Wiggins played his high school ball in West Virginia at Huntington Beach Prep, where some of the best players in the world now go to get ahead of the hoop curve.
He emerged early as a candidate for the label of being the best player in the nation. He went out at his high school, in AAU games and in various combines across the nation and cemented that fact—taking care of business and proving he's a complete player on both ends of the court.
A 6'8" small forward, Wiggins shows great promise as an individual scorer. His first step is outstanding, there are very few forwards who can get to and above the rim like he can in the open court and his on-ball defense will help whichever coach lands him to fine-tune the D.
Yet, to fully realize that he is the "best" player in the country in the freshman class, Wiggins cannot go to the three schools with established and incoming talent already in place—Roy Williams' Tar Heels, John Calipari's Wildcats and Bill Self's Jayhawks have just that.
Those three programs also have a pedigree for success.
Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina have combined for four of the last nine NCAA tournament championships, and continually send prospects to the NBA each season—largely because the collection of talent is so great on campus.
Not the case at Florida State.
Coming off an 18-16 season, Leonard Hamilton's 'Noles are losing their best player to the NBA draft (Michael Snaer) and have only a few recruits heading to town anywhere close to the likes of the Harrison twins, Julius Randle, Wayne Selden and Kennedy Meeks—all heading to the other three schools mentioned—and will have to contend with Syracuse, Notre Dame and Louisville in the coming seasons.
Simply put, Wiggins will either make or break himself as the best overall player in the country next season.
As it is right now, he's assuredly a top-five pick in the 2014 NBA draft, and barring any unforeseen changes in his game after the high school-to-college leap, that won't change when March Madness is completed next season.
If he's a Seminole at the time of that announcement, he could very well be the consensus No. 1 pick—bar none.
It's an idea that analysts are saying plays a huge role in Wiggins' final choice.
ESPN's Eamonn Brennan wrote a detailed piece on how Wiggins helps each of the four colleges amongst his final choices, and in the Florida State section, he explains how Wiggins can be the center of attention while not losing any of his value as the No. 1 option in Hamilton's offense:
So what makes FSU Wiggins' most interesting potential destination? All of the above! If you are willing to accept the premise that an 18-16 team ranked No. 124 in the Pomeroy rankings is essentially a blank slate, what better chance to measure Wiggins' talent, to see how much better he can individually make a team, than at Florida State?
It could be our second chance at Kevin Durant's insane one-year stop at Texas, or a facsimile of all those hypothetical LeBron James fantasy arguments we seem to have every March. (What if his 21-6-6 rookie season had been in college instead? If we put 2012-13 LeBron on 2012-13 Grambling, could it win 25 games? The national title? I spend too much time thinking about this.)
CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello confirmed this idea, looking at what the programs in question will look like both with and without Wiggins next season. All three of the other groups are likely top-10 teams if Wiggins is in the fold, but the leap between a Wiggins-less Florida State and one with him is greater than any of the other options:
Wiggins would immediately vault Florida State into the top 25 for next season, as he would give Leonard Hamilton arguably the best player in the country. He's the type of player who can carry the Seminoles' offense for long stretches, and would combine with Rathan-Mayes to form an extremely potent wing tandem. If Florida State gets back to usual Hamilton defensive standards and he finds consistent point guard play, a Wiggins-led Seminoles team could be a Sweet 16 threat.
If he goes to Kentucky, he'll not only have to earn his minutes alongside 10 other blue-chip prospects, he'll also have to learn how to share the ball with four other guys who have been No. 1 options their entire life.
While he's going to have to do some of that at any school, the dissension at Kentucky has the potential to completely devalue one or a few of these top-flight prospects.
Where will Wiggins ultimately sign?
Elsewhere, North Carolina and Kansas are in similar boats.
At Florida State, though, Wiggins could both follow the legacy of his athletic parents while establishing himself as a top-flight teenager playing in college. He would take every coaches, players and road fans' best shot—as a freshman, no less—and would receive no breaks on either end with the 'Noles.
The choice is coming down to the wire, but it's really simple if Wiggins wants to do anything other than join up with top prep stars to create the sort of one-year dynasty we've become accustomed to in the NCAA.
If he's the competitor that many feel he is, then Florida State appears to be the place where Wiggins will start his NBA career path off on the right foot.
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