Happy MLK Day, everyone. Like a lot of you probably did, I took advantage of the day off of work/school by staying up a little late last night, only instead of the usual It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia end-of-weekend marathon, I went to karaoke with some of the KSR Crew, and let me tell you, when you hear Nick Roush sing “Nerlens and the Cats” to the tune of “Bennie and the Jets,” you won’t be able to get it out of your head. Like, ever. It’s burned into my brain as something both terrible and great. But after participating in Karaoke Sports Radio, I’m a little tired.
You know who else is tired? Andrew Wiggins.
Not because he stayed up late doing karaoke, even though that’s very possible. No, Wiggins has to deal with something a lot of us don’t: national attention. And it might be starting to bring him down. A Mr. Bryan Fitzsimmons recently discussed the recruiting process, and how it’s affecting the nation’s best high school player:
“It’s overwhelming. He doesn’t like the attention. He doesn’t like it. His shots aren’t falling,” [Coach Rob] Fulford admitted. “His shot was much more consistent last year and his free-throw percentage is low… He’s a good kid. He really is. He’ll talk to you about anything, but once recruiting is brought up, he shuts down.
“Florida State might get two or three more ESPN games because he’d be there, but it’s a football school,” shrugged Fulford, hinting at some relief from scrutiny as a Seminole.
I don’t really buy that Wiggins would choose to go to FSU because he’s shy and it’s a football school, but I can understand how the constant questioning right now could affect his game. There’s a big difference between folks paying attention to you because they want to ask you if you’ve made a decision, and paying attention to you just because they want to see you play ball. After a decision is made, whether Kentucky or elsewhere, I think most of that pressure goes away, and Wiggins has a stellar one-year college career focused on just playing, and doing that pretty well.
Should he come to Kentucky, he would no doubt get a ton of attention as probably the best player in what’s already the best recruiting class of the decade, possibly ever. But it’d be so much different than the attention he’s getting during the recruiting process. As Fulford said, “We’ve played six games in the state of Kentucky and had over 35,000 people.” Those folks weren’t there to ask him questions; they were there just to watch his game. That’s the kind of attention he’d get at Kentucky. Just basketball fans wanting to see a basketball player. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s the recruiting process that’s tough, not the attention itself.
I understand that recruiting can be rough, and the longer it goes on, the more tiresome it all gets. Not from personal experience, but I can imagine. But Wiggins should ask another Huntington native, Patrick Patterson, what playing at Kentucky is really like. The attention wouldn’t be on his decision, cause that would have already been made. Instead, he’d be getting attention for something much more simple: his game. And Wiggins’ game speaks pretty loudly on its own.