Andrew Wiggins came into the college basketball season as the unrivaled No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, and while his stock has wavered at times this year, his big game against the Iowa State Cyclones helped resolidify his draft stock.
Entering the season, there was so much hype surrounding Wiggins that many were already starting to compare him to players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant to see how he sized up. Rivals.com had him as the No. 1 recruit in the 2013 class coming out of high school, and given his incredible athleticism and big-play potential fans saw on highlight tapes, the hype kept growing after he committed to Kansas.
But once he stepped onto the court for the Jayhawks, people saw that Wiggins struggled at times, and although he's just a freshman, the critics instantly became skeptical because they expected no growing pains for the projected superstar.
Wiggins started the season with some good games, but nothing really blew people away. The most points he's scored in any game was 26 against the Florida Gators, and he's only scored 20 or more in four other games.
With the lack of eye-popping scoring numbers, Wiggins hasn't lived up to the hype, but honestly, that was going to be impossible. He was being talked about like he was already a star in the NBA, despite not proving himself in a single college game.
With the failure to meet expectations, Wiggins' NBA draft stock has taken a hit. According to Mark Heisler at Forbes.com, it looks like Wiggins might not even be a No. 1 or No. 2 pick:
This just in: Wiggins is slipping out of contention for No. 1-2. The NBA guys I talk to say that will be Parker and Kansas seven-footer Joel Embiid. At No. 3, Wiggins has yet to separate himself from Kentucky power forward Julius Randle, Australian point guard Dante Exum and, depending on whom you talk to, Arizona forward Aaron Gordon.
“There’s zero chance of any team taking anybody before Jabari Parker,” says an Eastern Conference personnel guy. “And there’s zero chance of any team taking Wiggins before Joel Embiid.”
But this win over the Cyclones was a big one for the Jayhawks as well as Wiggins. No. 15 Kansas won 77-70 over No. 8 Iowa State, with Wiggins playing a great game. He ended up with 17 points on 7-of-16 shooting, but more importantly, he came up with 19 total rebounds, which was the most he's ever had in a game, with his previous high at just 11.
After the game, Jon Rothstein from CBS Sports had this to say about Wiggins:
A game like this one showed scouts that Wiggins is still growing as a player. He's still only 18 years old and is trying to learn more about the game at the college level. By putting up a very strong double-double against one of the top-ranked teams in the country, Wiggins was able to turn some heads.
Looking at his season, it seems that Wiggins has stepped up when playing ranked teams. As you can see below, his numbers against ranked teams tend to look more impressive in comparison to his season averages.
|Wiggins Season vs. Top-25 Opponents' Averages|
|vs. Top 25||46.6||39.1||20.2||9.6||1.2|
While scouts may continue to criticize Wiggins after this game, a performance like this one will quiet some of the critics. If he can keep playing like he did against the Cyclones, then there's a chance that he could retake his spot as a No. 1 or No. 2 pick.
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