Andrew Wiggins Decision: Why Kansas Had to Be the Choice for His Legacy
It's difficult to imagine that his legacy was weighing on the mind of Andrew Wiggins when he decided he would play his college basketball at Kansas.
This is a guy who didn't want his announcement on television. He wanted only one reporter—the local newspaper guy—to be there, and there were no hats (that we know of) involved. Wiggins is different from the new-age, attention-starved prospects in that way.
The great ones are always different in some sort of way.
Calling Wiggins great is a little premature, but the possibility is there. And the one thing all the great ones share is that they care about their legacy. It drives them. There's a reason LeBron James went to the Heat. There's a reason Kevin Durant told Sports Illustrated recently he didn't want to be second anymore. There's a reason Kobe Bryant is still chasing after that sixth ring (In 10 years if it came out that Michael Jordan tried to sabotage Bryant's pursuit, would anyone be surprised?).
The great ones are all a little nutty, and they care about this kind of stuff.
That's why Wiggins to Kansas makes sense.
At Kentucky, Wiggins would have been part of the greatest recruiting class of all time, but that's what history would have remembered most—that he was simply part of the greatest recruiting class of all time.
At North Carolina, you live in the shadow of Michael Jordan.
At Florida State, you are a temporary distraction from the next college football season.
At Kansas, Wiggins gets the historically great basketball program. He gets to play with a team that is talented enough to have a great season. He gets to play for a great coach. And he gets to be a player who when you say Kansas in 10 years, the first person the current generation will associate with the school is Wiggins.
Kansas has an amazing tradition, but the best player in the history of the school is Wilt Chamberlain. Chamberlain played his college ball a long time ago. Many basketball fans probably have no idea Chamberlain was a Jayhawk.
After that, Danny Manning is next on the list. Knee problems kept Manning from becoming a basketball legend.
Paul Pierce is the greatest pro in the modern era from Kansas, but Pierce was not a can't-miss prospect. He was a made man. He was the 10th pick in the 1998 NBA draft, and he never got past the Elite Eight at Kansas.
Bill Self has had some great players in his first 10 seasons at KU, but none of them have come in with this much hype. Even Ben McLemore was sort of an under-the-radar recruit, and he wasn't even the best player on KU's team this past year.
McLemore's development and his pro potential had to improve Self's pitch to Wiggins. It probably proved to him that he could come to Kansas and still be the top pick in the 2014 draft.
Did Andrew Wiggins make the right choice?
But doubt is not something that creeps into the minds of the great ones. They are concerned with being great.
At Kansas, Wiggins has that chance to start a legacy. He has the chance to put together a season that will be historically relevant.
Wiggins will also play on the court named after James Naismith, the inventor of the game. Naismith is from Canada. So is Wiggins. That will be a nice lead-in to the story of his career.
Maybe thinking that an 18-year-old kid cares about the history of the game is a bit preposterous. Or maybe Wiggins is in fact a little bit nutty.
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