Welcome to the Andrew Wiggins Show: KU Star Frosh Finally Meeting the Hype

C.J. MooreCollege Basketball National Lead WriterJanuary 30, 2014

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — In the last minute on the night Andrew Wiggins had scored his career-high 29 points, he was jogging onto the court after a timeout to throw in the ball and he broke into a schoolyard skip.

Moments later, Wiggins was waiting for teammate Perry Ellis to shoot his free throws and he exchanged a few words with Iowa State's DeAndre Kane and then busted out a big smile. 

After three months and a mountain of expectations, Andrew Wiggins is finally getting to just enjoy how much fun it is to be Andrew Wiggins. 

"He's just going out there and playing basketball," Kansas point guard Naadir Tharpe said after KU's 92-81 win over Iowa State. "At the beginning of the year, he was just going out there trying to think, trying to make everybody else happy. 

"That's not what he needs to do. He needs to go out there and play for himself, play for the team. And once he goes out there and just plays loose, you see what happens."

Yes, we're finally seeing what can happen.

Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

Wiggins was the guy in the highlight videos and more on Wednesday night. He aggressively slashed into the lane. He had a highlight reel dunk in the final minutes that's undoubtedly coming to YouTube by the time he wakes up tomorrow. And he knocked down 4-of-6 threes.

That jumper—and no one has probably ever said anything like this since Wiggins arrived at KU—but that jumper is probably undersold.

Can you believe that? Something about Andrew Wiggins is under-hyped.

"He's so aggressive right now and you can tell he's oozing with confidence, and that's scary with that athleticism and that length and his speed," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. "Kid's got it all, and if he's knocking down shots, not too many better."

Sixteen days ago, Hoiberg called Kansas center Joel Embiid "the best player in the country." 

This is why the heavily-hyped freshman came to Kansas. He's surrounded by enough talent that the Jayhawks could wait for Wiggins to find his place and still be pretty darn good in the meantime.

Tharpe tied a career-high with 12 assists against the Cyclones. He has 17 assists and one turnover in his last three games, and he's shooting nearly 50 percent from deep in league play. Perry Ellis added a quiet 20 points against the Cyclones. 

The Jayhawks are playing so good right now that Bill Self is finding it almost impossible to nit-pick.

"The ball still sticks sometimes," he said.

Good try, Coach.

Outside of the scoring barrage being put on by Creighton, no one is scoring the ball easier than Kansas since conference play started, and what's scary for everyone else is Wiggins finally feels comfortable in his own skin.

"A lot of things are slowing down for me," Wiggins said.

"I don't care what anybody says, he's been good all year," Self said. "He just hasn't lived up to the hype, which is not fair to him, because there's no way he could have."

Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

This is Self defending his guy, and he's had to as the criticism has been heaped on Wiggins from all directions. But that talk is quieting now because this is the Wiggins that people—fair or not—expected in November.

Wiggins has now scored at least 17 points in five of his last six games, and he has set a career-high the last two times he's laced them up—he had 27 points on Saturday at TCU.

Of course, the one game in there when Wiggins didn't get at least 17, he had a disappearing act (three points) in a win against Oklahoma State.

At times, he has struggled to put himself in spots where he can be successful, and that consistency is what his critics will want to see.

But those moments where it appears Wiggins is not being aggressive are fewer and farther between, because the mind is starting to catch up to the ability.

Kansas had an inbounds play in the second half designed to hit Wiggins cutting to the basket. He noticed Iowa State was overplaying him that way, he stepped back and Tharpe found him for a three.

"We say this all the time. You should run offense to score, but a lot of times young kids run offense because they're supposed to run offense," Self said. "He's starting to figure out where his shots are coming from and he's starting to have confidence that I want him to be aggressive.

"The thing about it is, he still only took 16 shots. It's not like he's hunting shots. He's going to have a game where he gets 21, 22 looks and if he shoots the ball like that, he could have really big night for us."

Hear that? The best is yet to come. Maybe we were a little quick to judge with this one.


C.J. Moore covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @CJMooreBR.