Eh Game

Canada’s Andrew Wiggins, U.S. high school basketball player of the year, now mulling his college choice

Wiggins visits Kentucky this week (Getty Images)

Across Canada, NBA star in waiting Andrew Wiggins is in the news today because the Canadian small forward was named the top high school basketball player in the United States on Monday.

It is always great when a Canadian beats the Americans at what they believe to be their game, especially since the award Wiggins won bears the name of James Naismith, the Canadian who invented basketball. The hotter topic is reading the coverage (and the tea leaves) to get a gauge where Wiggins will head for obligatory one year in the NCAA before entering the 2014 NBA draft. Wiggins' parents, Mitchell Wiggins and Marita Payne-Wiggins, are alumni of Florida State, historically a hoops nonentity. It's also possible that like Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who sent Wiggins a congratulatory tweet on Monday, Wiggins might favour a blue team — Kansas, Kentucky or North Carolina. There is a very real possibility that Wiggins might join Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari's latest gilded recruiting class in a bid to replicate 2012, when Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist led the 'Cats to the NCAA title and went 1-2 in the draft. Wiggins is making his official recruiting visit to the hoops mecca of Lexington, Ky., on Wednesday, where probably not coincidentally, Kentucky is holding a halftime ceremony to honour its 1996 championship team. Because you always celebrate the 17th anniversary of a national title.

From Zac Jackson (@FSOhioZJackson):

Nobody gets gifted young players to the NBA quicker and into higher draft positions like Kentucky coach John Calipari does. There are no real indications that Wiggins is leaning to or liking any of the final four schools on his list more than another, but Calipari's track record says that could change soon.

... Calipari, his staff and Big Blue Nation can solidify their favored status when Wiggins visits Wednesday, leaving Kansas, North Carolina and Florida State to play from behind.

Every remaining contender can make a case; just probably not the kind of case Kentucky can make with four of Scout.com's Top 10 players in the class of 2013 already having committed to be Wildcats next season.

All four finalists for Wiggins' services play in major conferences, and what Florida State lacks in both basketball tradition and current talent on the roster could be negated by Wiggins' family ties and by the presence of [prep school teammate Xavier] Rathan-Mayes [who is committed to Florida State]. North Carolina and Kansas also have rabid fan bases and top-notch, decorated programs, and all will roll out the red carpet the way Florida State did in December. (Fox Sports Ohio)

Wiggins, who turned 18 last weekend, has demurred from making public comment about where he's going to end up, which adds an air of mystery for everyone who's tapping the glass of his fishbowl existence. Everything is filtered through those close to him. His coach at Huntington Prep, Rob Fulford, recently offered a quote that on the surface, might have given away nothing.

“They’re all still in it,” Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford said. “I think whoever wins the visits is going to have a one-up. Then after, they sit down and evaluate rosters. I think deep down he wants to win a national championship. ... But he has to evaluate the fit, style of play, how everything works for him in a team aspect with all rosters.”

Speculation from recruiting analysts and fans tends to suggest Wiggins is leaning toward Florida State.

But Fulford said that if Wiggins is favoring the Seminoles, he has never expressed it, although he said the player enjoyed his December trip to Tallahassee.

“I think he’s taking the visits seriously,” Fulford said. “He and I had a little discussion. He doesn’t talk much, but he said he enjoyed his Florida State visit, and he felt it and he could feel himself going there.

“He knows they have holes. He knows as far as the team aspect they’re not where they need to be, but he likes the fact that his parents (basketball player Mitchell Wiggins and track athlete Marita Payne-Wiggins) both were athletes there. He has familiarity there. He got a good vibe from the visit, but he’s going to take all the visits, and if somebody beats out Florida State, then they beat Florida State. He’s not going to go there just because his parents went there." (Louisville Courier-Journal, Feb. 23)

Just a wild guess, but that "deep down he wants to win a national championship" line seems to speak pretty loudly.

In October, Kentucky landed the pair who might be basketball's answer to the Vancouver Canucks' Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Andrew Harrison is considered the best high school point guard in America; his twin Aaron Harrison is considered the best shooting guard. The former told ESPN.com, "We liked coach Calipari's fire to win and we want to win a national championship."

If that's what Wiggins also really wants too, well, Kentucky will have a case. Then again, that is coming from someone tugging at loose threads, so take it for what is worth. But the Harrisons plus Wiggins would give Kentucky the top incoming players in college basketball at the 1, 2 and 3 spots on the floor, trying to win it all as freshmen like Kentucky did two seasons ago and like current NBAer Carmelo Anthony did a decade ago at Syracuse. The other three have a case and there's the family tie to Florida State, but there's an indication that won't be so much of a determining factor. Andrew Wiggins is in an orbit where that might not matter so much.

Just for a giggle, once again here's the dunk Wiggins threw down last weekend in a game for Huntington Prep. Please don't be all Canadian and tsk-tsk about the staredown. Wiggins will probably get that out of his system by the time he's in the David Stern-sanitized league.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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