I never thought there would be a question in my life that I would answer more than the one from (now six) years ago, “what is the latest on Patterson and Lucas?” The Patrick Patterson and Jai Lucas recruitment was really the first in the modern internet era that totally captured the UK fan base online and turned everyone into recruiting obsessives. Because of the timing of Lucas and Patterson, first during the final year of Tubby and then the Spring of Billy Clyde, their importance grew by the day and following those two young men was the crucial building block to making KSR a success. However now, six years later, a question may be surpassing it. In the eight years of KSR, “what do you think Andrew Wiggins will do”, has become the most-asked question in our history. Part of that is sheer numbers, there are more people on the site now than six years ago and a much bigger radio show, but part of it is just the nature of the unbelievable talent that Andrew Wiggins possesses. I still believe he is the best high school player I have seen since Lebron, and Kentucky fans understandably really want to see him become part of the Big Blue Nation. Even though the Cats ALREADY have the best recruiting class in the HISTORY OF COLLEGE BASKETBALL (read that again…it is truly amazing), we have become like the girl in the AT&T commercials who says, “WE WANT MORE! WE WANT MORE! WE WANT MORE!,” wanting to not just create a juggernaut, but one that will stand over its opponents and get medieval on their ass.
However while interest in Andrew Wiggins is at an all-time high (I think at this point there are almost no UK fans who don’t know his name), I am not sure that there has ever been a recruit that has leaked less useful information. Usually by this time in the recruiting process, I am almost certain where a kid will go…and if not certain, down to two favorites. Looking back at the Calipari years, there has only been one recruiting announcement that truly shocked me (Terrence Jones picking Washington…and he then of course changed his mind) and one that left me perplexed (Alex Oriakhi to Missouri). When Kyle Wiltjer picked Kentucky, it sort of came from left field, but it was early enough in the decision process that the hordes of internet journalists had not completely surrounded the kid. The reality is that nearly every kid is predictable in his final decision if you follow all the information, and the ones who aren’t can certainly be narrowed to two. Not Andrew Wiggins. All four schools, Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida State and Kansas, can believe they have a legitimate chance of getting his services. While I am sure he has narrowed the group in some respect in his mind, publicly he hasn’t uttered a peep and those that know the most about the kid, INSIST he (a) hasn’t made up his mind and (b) they don’t know what he will do.
So how do we determine where he goes? I can say with confidence that both the coaches involved and the recruiting people I trust the most (and there are three) all say they aren’t sure what he will do. Internet conspiracy theorists (and there are many) insist this isn’t the case and that coaches surely know but are “hiding the information.” I honestly don’t believe that is the case. Every coach and guru has their hunches, but none know for sure. At this point, here is what we know about his four choices:
Florida State: His parents both played here in their athletic days and still have a close connection to the school. Virtually everyone I have spoken to about the recruitment suggests that they would prefer to see Andrew a Seminole (especially the father) and they are the biggest influence on FSU being in the top four. Andrew’s high school teammate, Xavier Rathan-Mayes is also scheduled to go there this fall. And then of course was his infamous official visit hosted by the FSU coeds. The biggest weakness of course is that it is Florida State and they suck.
Kentucky: Obviously playing for the best college basketball program in history, the greatest recruiting class ever and a juggernaut team next year would seem to be enough. But when combined with the things Wiggins has publicly said are most important (coach relationship, facilities and chance to win a title), UK seems the no-brainer. But the Cats also have the advantage of Wiggins’ relationship with Calipari, which most insiders believe is the best of any of the coaches. Add in the marketability of playing for what will be college basketball’s biggest traveling road show next year, and Wiggins could become a superstar in one season that would command huge endorsement money the moment the 9th Championship is won. The biggest problem seems to be the connection between the staff and the parents, which according to a close source, just hasn’t clicked at quite the level it has with Andrew.
North Carolina: The Heels have been the late closer in this recruitment and one source told me Saturday that if he were placing the money in Vegas, they would be the pick. They are of course a great program, and they will be really good next season if Wiggins comes…not UK good, but maybe #2 in the nation. Plus Roy Williams has sold Wiggins on the idea of being the next UNC “icon” (the one thing UNC always sells..the Jordan factor). If he picks UNC, it might be what I would call the “compromise” pick…second choice of family, second choice of kid. Plus, it isn’t like UNC would be the worst place to go to school. The biggest drawback? Roy Williams’ last two “superstar” players, Harrison Barnes and James McAdoo, didn’t necessarily reach anywhere close to their potential.
Kansas: Most everyone involved believes Kansas is in 4th place, and that would be my take as well. However, one source I trust a great deal, insists that Kansas is much closer than anyone publicly believes. You remember how ALL ESPN analysts said that Julius Randle was either Texas, Kansas or Florida? Well at least a month before that, Randle had already committed to UK, and when I heard this and expressed confidence, it went against the grain. My source pushing Kansas as a viable (but not yet selected) option could be the same way. Kansas does have benefit of having his brother close by and the need for him next season to make them a contender. There is also the rumored story that when he “ranked” the schools with a family friend on ten criteria, Kansas came in first. The weakness however would seem to be Kansas’ late arrival to the party and the notion that whatever they have to offer, UK and UNC would seem to have the same, only better.
So what will he do? I honestly do not know. Calipari visited Wiggins two weeks ago before the All Star game gauntlet and now Roy Williams comes Monday, Bill Self Tuesday and Leonard Hamilton on Wednesday. There is speculation an announcement could come on Thursday, but Wiggins’ high school coach insists that no decision date has been contemplated. Signing Day is May 15th, but he could wait if he wanted, as all schools would leave a spot open for him. Message board “insiders” and various teams’ fan “sources” have said all four of the schools are the leader. And one of the four groups will end up looking correct as he will pick one at the end of the day. But this unbelievable talent still has me, and everyone involved on a daily basis (maybe most especially the coaches) guessing. If I were ranking likelihood today, I would probably go:
3. Florida St
But if you ask me tomorrow, the ranking might be different (it has already changed a number of times and even today, I could easily flip UK and UNC). I give much credit to Andrew Wiggins…as of now, he has us all baffled…and all we can do is wait to see what the biggest talent, and program maker, of the last decade is going to do. One fan base is going to be very pleased.