Weighing All of Andrew Wiggins' Final Options as Decision Day Looms
On Tuesday, May 14, the world will take a temporary pause and set their sights on the No. 1 high school star in the nation. Andrew Wiggins, a Canadian small forward that attended Huntington Prep in Huntington, West Virginia, will make his commitment to the college basketball ranks on that day.
With four schools remaining, however, we can't help but ask—what does each team have to offer that could potentially sway Wiggins' decision?
As it presently stands, the four schools Wiggins is considering consists of the Florida State Seminoles, Kansas Jayhawks, Kentucky Wildcats and North Carolina Tar Heels. Speculation has mounted as to where he will go, but nothing has come close to confirm.
As for the announcement of his declaration date, the news was provided by Huntington Prep head coach Rob Fulford.
Andrew Wiggins will sign Tuesday at around 12:15. He will not hold a press conference type ceremony. Just classmates, family and friends— Rob Fulford (@rfulford) May 13, 2013
Pandemonium has inevitably ensued.
A case could be made that Wiggins is the most highly-touted high school prospect since LeBron James in 2003. While the comparisons to James are premature by nature, the upside is certainly there for Wiggins to become a superstar at the college and NBA ranks.
Unlike the high school players that had fun with their decision, however, Wiggins has taken on his superstar persona in more of private, business-type attitude.
@rfulford You mean he has class & won't put a bunch of hats on a table, act like he's putting one on & then choose another?!Good for him.— Steve Forbes (@ForbesNWFhoops) May 13, 2013
That gem comes via Northwest Florida State head coach Steve Forbes—the rant continues, if you'd like to check his Twitter feed.
With mere hours separating us from the decision that will forever reshape the 2013-14 college basketball season, we now return to the teams. After all, Wiggins may be the star, but it's the school that provides the privilege.
The question is, what do they have to offer in order to receive the player that could alter the trajectory of their program?
Florida State Seminoles
For those unfamiliar with Andrew Wiggins' background story, it likely comes as a surprise that Florida State is on this list. The Seminoles are commonly revered as a football school, putting strong, but not spectacular, players on the basketball court.
With that being said, Florida State has two of the ultimate X-factors—family and friendship.
For starters, Wiggins' high school teammate, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, has committed to play for the Seminoles in 2013-14. Not only did they play together at Huntington Prep, but Rathan-Mayes and Wiggins are friends that have played together in Canada and on their AAU travel team, CIA Bounce.
According to Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv, they are interested in continuing their joined success at the college ranks.
“Definitely,” the 6-foot-4 Rathan-Mayes of CIA Bounce told SNY.tv at Stockton College. “We’ve always wanted to play together since we were young and go to school together so that’s definitely a possibility.”
If that's not enough for you, try words spoken by Wiggins himself.
According to Chris Fisher of 247 Sports, Wiggins was asked if Rathan-Mayes would have an impact on his decision. With his answer, Wiggins left no questions about it.
Nothing is for certain, but he wants to play with his friend.
"It does. Me and him are close," Wiggins said. "We hang out off the court so our relationship is strong."
The friends are there, so what's the deal with family?
Both of Wiggins' parents attended Florida State and took part in some form of athletics. His father, Mitchell Wiggins, played basketball for FSU, while his mother, Marita Payne, was a decorated track and field athlete with the Seminoles.
Again, nothing is certain, but no school besides Florida State has that much of an emotional advantage.
When it comes to college basketball, few teams are as rich in tradition as the Kansas Jayhawks. Since 2002 alone, Kansas has won a national championship, finished as the runner-ups twice, made four Final Four appearances and seven trips to the Elite Eight.
It doesn't hurt that they have one of the top head coaches in the nation and an elite recruiting class, with or without Andrew Wiggins.
According to 247 Sports, the Jayhawks have the second-ranked recruiting class of the 2013 college basketball season. Their notable recruits include swingman Wayne Selden and center Joel Embiid, who are both projected lottery picks in 2014.
Point guard Conner Frankamp and Brannen Greene help round out the stars of the class, while Frank Mason is a 4-star point guard, as well.
Outside of having an elite recruiting class, Kansas is led by 2012 Naismith College Coach of the Year and 2008 national champion Bill Self. Since joining Kansas, Self is 300-59 and has made it to the Elite Eight in four of his past seven seasons.
That includes the 2008 national title and a berth in the 2012 national championship game.
If that's still not enough for you, Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore is in position to be a top five draft choice this season. This comes after 247 Sports ranked him as the 39th overall recruit in 2011.
Kentucky isn't the only school with the potential for title contention and NBA gratification.
The Kentucky Wildcats have pieced together one of the greatest recruiting classes in recent memory. In terms of on-paper success, Kentucky has compiled one of the most decorated recruiting classes ever.
Andrew Wiggins would push them to new heights.
According to 247 Sports, the Wildcats have landed five of the top 10 high school prospects in the nation. That includes the No. 1 players at point guard, shooting guard, power forward and center in Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Julius Randle and Dakari Johnson, respectively.
They've also signed power forward Marcus Lee, ranked No. 14 overall, and small forward Derek Willis, the No. 59 prospect.
It's more of the same from John Calipari's crew.
Perhaps most significant is the fact that the Wildcats return key players such as Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein, Kyle Wiltjer and Jarrod Polson. This is significant due to what we learned in 2011, when Kentucky won the national championship, and 2012, when they lost in the first round of the NIT.
Without quality veterans, elite freshman can be rendered helpless.
Should Wiggins attend the University of Kentucky, he'd join one of the deepest rosters in all of college basketball. Not only does this improve his odds at winning the 2014 national championship, but it presents him with a safety blanket.
Even when he struggles, the rest of his team is talented enough to carry the workload.
North Carolina Tar Heels
According to Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports, Andrew Wiggins has been "attracted to the North Carolina Tar Heels" for quite some time. Seeing as he's yet to make a decision, however, we'll take any report of interest with a grain of salt.
Even still, North Carolina would present him with a very promising situation.
The Tar Heels disappointed in 2012-13, going 25-11 and losing to the aforementioned Kansas Jayhawks in the round of 32. With that being said, North Carolina returns a majority of their rotation, while Kansas sees all five starters exit.
Seeing as the Tar Heels won nine of their final 12 games without a go-to scorer, it's safe to say that they are in position to welcome Wiggins and compete for a title immediately.
For starters, UNC brings back three of their top four scorers, including starting point guard Marcus Paige, sharpshooter P.J. Hairston and interior presence James Michael McAdoo. Those three players may not be stars that can carry this team, but they'd be elite complementary pieces.
With Wiggins leading the charge, this group of college veterans could provide all the supporting fire necessary for a run at the gold.
Furthermore, the Tar Heels are coached by the legendary Roy Williams. Coach Williams has won two national titles since 2005, also making consecutive Elite Eight appearances in 2011 and 2012.
In other words, the man knows how to win.
UNC hasn't recruited as well as the previously mentioned squads, but they've made key additions at point guard, power forward and center. That includes 5-star forward Isaiah Hicks, who ranks fifth by position, No. 17 point guard Nate Britt Jr. and the verbally committed No. 6 center Kennedy Meeks.
With quality freshman coming in, an experienced supporting cast and a legendary head coach, Wiggins would have it all at UNC. As for what this would mean for the college basketball community, we'd be remiss to ignore the obvious.
Wiggins would take on Jabari Parker and Duke at least twice this season and thus add another chapter to the nation's most storied rivalry.
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