Examining Andrew Wiggins' Preseason All-Big 12 Selection
Practices have barely begun, and freshman Andrew Wiggins has already made college basketball history.
On Thursday, the most hyped freshman in quite some time was named by the coaches to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team, a recognition that no other first-year player has ever received in the conference.
Wiggins was also named the Preseason Freshman of the Year, but that's hardly a surprise. Ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2013, the 18-year-old Canadian has already been dubbed as the consensus top pick in next year's NBA draft. Winning Preseason Freshman of the Year in the conference was pretty much a guaranteed assumption.
The bigger talking point here is his inclusion on the all-conference team.
There are valid arguments for why true freshmen should never be included on these teams.
Most notably, they've yet to prove anything. We've seen countless players oozing in talent struggle to adjust to the pace or physicality of the collegiate game and fail to live up to expectations.
Moreover, in Wiggins' particular situation, there are so many new moving parts for Kansas. The Jayhawks are losing five significant contributors. They very possibly will feature three freshmen in the starting lineup—Wiggins, Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid—along with sophomore Perry Ellis and junior Naadir Tharpe.
Currently, it's very unpredictable as to how Bill Self will juggle the minutes and how the production will shake out among all the newcomers as a result.
Simply put, it's OK to be wary of naming freshmen—especially ones on young teams—to all-conference teams like these. Going with proven entities is fine at this point in the season. It doesn't matter much, anyway.
All that being said, though, Wiggins would be the one to do it with.
Blessed with an unreal amount of athleticism, he has the ability to create his own shot in a variety of jukes, spins and hesitation moves before finishing effectively around the hoop. There is still room for him to improve as a shooter, but he's consistent enough from the outside to keep defenders honest.
Wiggins' combination of size, length, athletic ability and overall God-given talent make it difficult not to agree with the almost impossibly high praise he receives. There's very little question he deserves to be named one of the best players in the conference—even if he hasn't played a single second at this level yet.
Moreover, in my personal opinion, the coaches got it right with the Player of the Year.
Who's going to win Big 12 Player of the Year?
There aren't many players in the entire country I would take over Wiggins at the college level (there are none I would take at the NBA level), but one of them happens to be playing in the same conference.
Marcus Smart has oodles of talent, but he is also an unbelievable competitor and an elite difference-maker on the defensive end, and for now, that separates him from Wiggins.
That could very well change in near future, and the coaches could be proven be wrong. But either way, one thing is clear right now:
You can't go wrong with either.
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