Andrew Wiggins' Path to Superstardom Hitting Early Roadblocks at Kansas

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistNovember 30, 2013

LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 22: Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Kansas Jayhawks drives upcourt on a fast break as Timajh Parker-Rivera #15 and Rafriel Guthrie #22 of the Towson Tigers chase during the game at Allen Fieldhouse on November 22, 2013 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Andrew Wiggins arrived at Allen Fieldhouse with an amazing amount of hype. The extremely talented freshman was viewed as the likely top selection in next year's NBA draft even before stepping on the court for Kansas, turning every Jayhawks game into a must-see event.


What fans have witnessed is a player with off-the-charts athleticism and an offensive repertoire that demands respect from opponents because he can score from anywhere.

Yet, everybody is still waiting for him to start dominating games on a consistent basis, as was expected from the outset.

Make no mistake, there's been stretches during the early portion of the season, particularly during Kansas' triumph over Duke, where Wiggins was clearly the best player on the floor.

He has the ability to take control of the game every time he steps on the court, though. And, if the 6'8'' Canada native wants to prove all the preseason hoopla was warranted, the onus is on him to start playing like a superstar night in and night out.

It's not uncommon for a freshman to play a little passive early on, of course. The jump to the collegiate level, especially to a top program like Kansas, can be a shock to the system.

A player like Wiggins is used to being the best player in every game he plays, often by a very wide margin. Now, he's going up against upperclassmen who can match his size and defend, and the result has been mundane numbers through six games.

So far, Wiggins is averaging a shade under 16 points while shooting 53 percent from the field and pulling down five rebounds per game. Solid production—but not on the elite level many were expecting from a player with so much potential.

He had just 10 points and turned the ball over four times in Kansas' first loss of the season on Friday night against Villanova. It was a game that should be a good learning experience as it showed exactly what's been holding him back so far.

Wiggins was nowhere near as aggressive as he needs to be for the Jayhawks. He had just eight shots in 30 minutes, several of which were perimeter jumpers, which opposing defenses will be happy to give to him all season long.

By no means is Wiggins anywhere close to LeBron James' level right now, but in many respects the game plan is the same as it was for the four-time MVP earlier in his career. If he wants to jack up long-range shots, that's fine. Just don't let him completely take over the game.

MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 12: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat dunks against the Milwaukee Bucks on November 12, 2013 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this pho
Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

Wiggins must come to understand that attacking the rim on a regular basis is his best option, especially at a time in college basketball when officials are calling a lot of touch and reach-in fouls.

He's playing alongside a very gifted supporting cast, highlighted by Perry Ellis and Joel Embiid, and it looks like Wiggins often gets caught in between wanting to become the go-to guy and deferring to his teammates.

But when he's shooting contested jumpers or deferring too often, the advantage swings to the opponent because Kansas' biggest weapon isn't doing everything he's capable of.

Eventually, Wiggins should come to understand his role as the driving force behind the Jayhawks' title chances and should start playing with more urgency when the ball is in his hands. Exactly when it will happen is the biggest question mark.

Assuming he does, that's when Kansas should reach its peak and Wiggins will start looking more like the probable No. 1 pick, although that status is being challenged by Jabari Parker, Julius Randle and Marcus Smart.

If he was just another recruit who stepped into the lineup and started playing this well, Wiggins would be getting widespread praise. Instead, he was praised as the next basketball superstar and thus people are waiting to see him play at that level.

It hasn't happened on a regular basis quite yet for Wiggins. Sooner or later, however, everything is going to click and his true potential will shine through in a major way.