How the Andrew Wiggins Runner-Up Schools Will Cope Without No. 1 Recruit

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How the Andrew Wiggins Runner-Up Schools Will Cope Without No. 1 Recruit
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Self has to be having a blast right now figuring out how he’s going to build his team around Andrew Wiggins next season.

Life is not as fun for the three coaches who were waiting to see if they would have the luxury of coaching Wiggins. It’s too late to bring in another player, so each team will have to stick with what they have. For one school, there's plenty of talent in that spot already in place. For the other two, they'll be relying on less attractive options. 

So who are the lucky saps who get the privilege of spending next season in the spot where fans will be thinking "if only Wiggins were out there"?

Here's a look at those fellas and how each team will cope without the Canadian star.

 

Wiggins Was the Missing Piece for North Carolina

More than any of the three fanbases, the Tar Heels could spend next season thinking “what if…”

Wiggins was the one piece that Roy Williams was missing to make the Heels a title contender after they lost Reggie Bullock to the NBA. (I imagine Williams dropped a lot of "gosh darns" on Tuesday.)

Wiggins would have given UNC a great combination on the wing paired with P.J. Hairston. A year ago the Heels turned their season around when Williams gave in to what everyone wanted, going small and moving Hairston to the four spot.

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Next season Hairston will move back to the perimeter because Williams has a lot of depth inside and not much on the perimeter.

The player who will fill Bullock’s shoes instead of Wiggins is senior Leslie McDonald. McDonald is a nice player. He averaged 7.2 points in 17.7 minutes per game last year and has a good stroke from deep. 

What the Heels are missing is a slasher, which is the role Wiggins would have filled. McDonald rarely drives—he shot only 14 percent of his shots at the rim last year, according to HoopMath.com—and when he does shoot inside the arc, he’s not very effective. McDonald actually shot worst from inside the arc (35.4 percent) than from outside (35.9 percent).

That puts a lot of pressure on point guard Marcus Paige to create off the dribble.

Wiggins would have also allowed Williams to play with the small lineup. Without him, Williams is going to have to stick to a more traditional look.

The Heels need to get more production from their post players next year, and that would have been the case with or without Wiggins. But with him, they could have survived on the nights when James Michael McAdoo was having an off game.

 

Kentucky Doesn’t Need a Contingency Plan

As it is, Kentucky is going to have four McDonald’s All-Americans come off the bench this season. If Wiggins had come to UK, it would have been five.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Poythress and James Young cannot mind seeing Wiggins go to Kansas. Those two will compete for the starting small forward spot. Poythress can also play the 4, but it’s already pretty crowded in the post as Willie Cauley-Stein, Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee and Kyle Wiltjer will all be sharing minutes.

What Wiggins would have allowed John Calipari do was play really big. When Aaron Harrison went to the bench, Calipari could have pushed Wiggins to the 2-guard and played either Poythress or James Young at the 3. But Calipari can still play a really big lineup with James Young sliding over to the shooting guard spot.

Calipari is already going to have to get creative with his lineups and rotations. Obviously, he’ll take all the talent he can get, but he has two future pros at the small forward position. Those are two really good players. The ‘Cats are going to be just fine.

  

Seminoles Will Be Searching for Identity

Last season was the first since 2008 that Florida State had not ranked in the top 15 in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. The Seminoles ranked 165th.

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Leonard Hamilton has built his program on defense, and Wiggins, similar to Marcus Smart at Oklahoma State, could have rubbed off on his teammates with his effort and ability on the defensive end.

Florida State graduated Michael Snaer and is also be looking for a star to replace him. Wiggins would have filled that role. 

The other area where Florida State really struggled a year ago was on the defensive glass. Opponents grabbed 36.6 percent of their own missed shots. FSU's best rebounder, Terrance Shannon, transferred to VCU. Wiggins would have helped in that area as well.

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What’s left for the Seminoles is a team that could still improve from last year's 18-16 season if Canadian guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes fills the shoes of Snaer. Wiggins and Rathan-Mayes, who are good friends, would have made a nice combination on the wing.

Instead, either Aaron Thomas or Montay Brandon will fill that spot. Both had their turns starting last year. Thomas averaged 6.0 points per game, and Brandon averaged 3.9, but he did score 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting in FSU’s last game against Louisiana Tech.

If one of those players takes a big leap as a sophomore and Okaro White, the leading returning scorer, has a big senior year, the Seminoles could be improved. No, they should be improved.

Wiggins would have guaranteed that, but Hamilton still has some nice pieces to build around. 

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