Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: Will 'Cats Be Better off Without Andrew Wiggins?

Bobby ReaganFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2013

April 3, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA;  McDonald's All American forward Andrew Wiggins (22) poses for portraits before the 36th McDonalds All American Games to be played at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It's tough to believe that your team will be better off when you miss out on the No. 1 overall recruit. But that's exactly the case for Kentucky basketball when Andrew Wiggins decided to take his talents to Kansas.

Sure, Wiggins is a can't-miss prospect. But remember, the Wildcats already have eight McDonald's All-Americans on their roster coupled with a returning starter in Willie Cauley-Stein.

If Wiggins was to commit to Kentucky, it would create a logjam for minutes, especially on the wing for either Alex Poythress or James Young.

Wiggins decision to wear Kansas' blue, as opposed to Kentucky's blue, will allow Poythress the chance to finally flourish in the system. He won't be buried on the bench behind the No. 1 recruit, and unlike last year, he will be able to play with a plethora of talent around him.

This isn't to say Poythress is a better player than Wiggins, but let's not forget that people had high expectations for him last year. The Sporting News named the Clarksville, Tenn. native a second-team preseason All-America last year.

Perhaps, most importantly, the remaining scholarship will provide depth to the point guard position, which is the one position Kentucky was arguably the thinnest at heading into the Wiggins decision with only freshmen Andrew Harrison and Dominique Hawkins on scholarship.

The remaining scholarship should now bring back fan-favorite Jarrod Polson to be a backup to Harrison and mentor to Hawkins for a year.

Polson recently graduated from the University of Kentucky, but he has a year of eligibility left.

Polson being able to mentor Hawkins won't provide the gratification in 2013-14 that Andrew Wiggins would have, but down the road, it will pay off to have that year of learning for Hawkins, who could very well turn into the next Darius Miller at Kentucky.

The other positive of Wiggins not committing to Kentucky provides the Wildcats is team chemistry. The six incoming All-Americans have all had a chance to bond with each other at various showcase events as teammates. Sure, Wiggins played in those games too, but he wasn't 'one of them as a Kentucky commit.

The players now know their roles heading into the 2013-14 season. The media is expected to be intense for this team, but without the No. 1 recruit, it's possible the media will be directed more toward Lawrence, Kansas to follow Wiggins.

And for Big Blue Nation, if the Wildcats don't win the 2014 title, look at the bright side—There is an excuse now in not having the best player in the class.