Unless you have been on a two-month-long cruise and had no access to any sports media whatsoever, chances are you know who Andrew Wiggins is if you follow college basketball.
The wonder kid from Canada elected to attend Kansas over other schools like Kentucky, Florida State and North Carolina, and in the process turned the Jayhawks from a borderline Top 25 team into a national title contender. That’s a lot of pressure to live up to for someone who just finished up senior prom, but he has the necessary talent.
Read on to see five bold predictions for Wiggins’ freshman year in a Kansas uniform.
There may not be a single player under more pressure in the entire country than Andrew Wiggins next season.
He has been built up as the best basketball prospect since LeBron James and elected to attend a basketball powerhouse that just so happens to be in the midst of a nine-season Big 12 championship streak. Oh, and Kansas is replacing all five starters from a year ago as well.
For as talented as Wiggins is, it will undoubtedly take some time to get adjusted to his new surroundings and the new set of pressure. Even the Heat struggled for a bit early on in James’ first year as part of the Big Three. It’s just human nature to take some time to adjust.
Despite these early struggles, Wiggins will take off in the second half of the year. The Jayhawks will find their rhythm by then, and Wiggins will show the country why he is deserving of so much hype.
Working under the assumption that Andrew Wiggins and Kansas struggle a bit early on to adjust to all the roster turnover, the Jayhawks will be slightly behind the eight-ball after a difficult nonconference slate and the first few Big 12 games.
Kansas will still be a popular Final Four pick, largely due to Wiggins’ emergence in the second half of the season. Experts always love to go with the hot hand come March, and the Jayhawks will take the Big 12 tournament crown behind a renewed Wiggins and a fully adjusted lineup.
Granted, the actual Final Four participants always depend partially on how the matchups unfold and the various brackets, but there is a ton of talent on this Kansas squad. If Wiggins does live up to his hype, which he will in the second half of the season, the Jayhawks could be dancing a long time come March.
Andrew Wiggins can do a lot of things on the basketball floor.
He is incredibly athletic and has great size, which means he can score in a variety of ways. He will have no issues attacking the rim, hitting mid-range jump shots and scoring from the low block, and his defense and rebounding will prove critical for Kansas as well.
However, he will also be the centerpiece for any defensive game plan concocted to stop the Jayhawks. With all that defensive pressure and the expectations that will be set at unfair levels from the opening tip of the season, Wiggins will not be the highest scoring freshman for Kansas.
Wayne Selden will.
Selden has flown under-the-radar despite his status as a legitimate 5-star prospect. He can play either guard spot or the small forward role and can handle the ball as well as shoot out to the three-point line. He will be the primary benefactor of the double teams that are sent Wiggins’ way.
Look for Selden to take advantage and lead all Jayhawk freshmen in points per game.
At this point, it is fairly clear these predictions see Andrew Wiggins taking some time to adjust to the college game before he becomes the absolute superstar that he is destined to be. The early adjustment period will ultimately be Kansas’ undoing in terms of its nine-year Big 12 title stranglehold (the Jayhawks have also won 11 of the last 12).
Kansas will recover by March and win the conference tournament behind Wiggins’ excellent play, but Oklahoma State will win the regular-season crown.
The Cowboys return Marcus Smart, arguably the best player in all of college basketball, and Le’Bryan Nash in one of the most fearsome twosomes in the country. Throw in the return of guard Markel Brown and the sharpshooting of Phil Forte, and Oklahoma State is poised to finally knock Kansas off the Big 12 perch.
That being said, the Jayhawks will be a safer bet in March when Wiggins begins to play like the bona fide superstar that he is capable of being.
Andrew Wiggins will play his way out of No. 1 pick lock status with his early struggles only to reestablish himself as the surefire selection with an incredible second half.
By the time the NCAA tournament comes to a close and Kansas has at least taken home a Big 12 tournament crown and maybe more by the end of March, NBA scouts will once again be drooling. This is the logical extension to the early struggles and second-half emergence predictions, but it also assumes Wiggins won't shock, a la Marcus Smart, and stay in school another year.
The Jayhawks must replace five starters for the 2013-14 campaign, and they will once again have to replace a legitimate collegiate star once Wiggins leaves after one season. It may be frustrating to lose such a talent so early, but there isn't a coach in the country that wouldn’t want that potential problem on their squad.
Follow college basketball writer Scott Polacek on Twitter @ScottPolacek.