When you're Andrew Wiggins, being pelted with criticism is part of the territory. Every highly touted prep star has had to endure it. With Wiggins' No.2-ranked Kansas Jayhawks getting stunned by the unranked Villanova Wildcats in the Bahamas Friday, it's expected that the most celebrated player in college hoops would catch a little flak.
That moderate amount of flak becomes more substantial for some when you consider the fact that Wiggins took only eight shots in the loss. Without question, he was not as assertive as he needed to be down the stretch. Aside from taking a meaningless last-second three-pointer at the end of the game, Wiggins shot or attacked on offense just five times in the second half.
For a kid who is the unquestioned best player on the floor, that is a modest amount of impact on his team's bottom line.
When a team loses, it is always better to feel as though it lost with its best players attacking and being aggressive. That didn't happen Friday for Kansas. Before everyone starts prematurely stating Wiggins isn't an alpha dog, there's one major factor to consider.
The kid is still just 18 years old. This was only the sixth game of his college career and quite honestly, it looked as if he was trying to allow his vastly superior roster of teammates to take over a game Kansas should have won. Is it bad that Wiggins deferred to teammates like Perry Ellis?
Yes, especially since Ellis is just a sophomore himself and the Jayhawks big man, Joel Embiid, is a freshman like Wiggins. Kansas doesn't have a dominant upperclassmen for Wiggins to play second fiddle to.
This was a learning experience for the future star. It takes time for a young leader to learn when and how to take a game over. LeBron James has seemingly just grasped how to do this in the last two years.
In the future, Wiggins will learn how to recognize his opportunities to explode. The intangibles are there.
Facing Jabari Parker and Duke on Nov. 12, no one had to tell Wiggins how big of a game that was. He rose to the occasion and had his best scoring output of the season. Wiggins scored 22 points, grabbed eight rebounds and didn't record an assist in that game.
We can't imply that completely refusing to pass to teammates is ever the right approach. It is safe to say there are times in the game where a star of Wiggins' level should force the game to run through him for key stretches.
This was one early-season game. In the grand scheme of things, it won't matter much for Kansas in March. Jayhawk Nation will probably only have Wiggins for a season, but don't be surprised if the Kansas faithful get an opportunity to see him at his best and most assertive before he moves on to the NBA.
Follow me for news and musings on all things hoops.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!