While Andrew Wiggins’s decision to sign with Kansas on Tuesday will end the eye-roll-eliciting questions about his recruitment, it won’t end the constant scrutiny and challenges relayed at the Huntington Prep (W. Va.) senior forward — only now, they’ll be coming from his new college basketball peers.
That’s why the moment the Wiggins’ news broke, Riverdale Baptist senior and Kansas State recruit Nigel Johnson became that much more motivated. Now, along with the already-high intensity surrounding their in-state rivalry, Johnson and his future Wildcat teammates have the chance to play spoiler against a Jayhawk squad with immeasurable expectations.
“I think it’s gonna make the hype of the games when we play them even greater, even more exciting to watch” Johnson said via text on Tuesday.
The 6-foot-1 point guard had a chance to match up with Wiggins once this past season at the National High School Hoops Festival in December. While many remember the 53-44 loss to Huntington Prep for the poster dunk that Johnson threw down (see below, courtesy of Capital Hoops), Johnson can easily recall what stuck out to him about the 6-foot-8 Wiggins:
“He’s long, athletic and smart, and can play any position,” Johnson added.
Johnson’s not the only local recruit who gained a new Big 12 rival in Wiggins. As a Baylor signee, Montrose Christian‘s Ishmail Wainright will also see the nation’s top recruit twice a year — a prospect that’s both surprising and intriguing for the senior forward.
“I thought he was going to Florida State with [Huntington Prep teammate and FSU recruit Xavier Rathan-Mayes],” Wainright said. “But that’s a great choice, good school. But now we’ve got to settle everything on the court.”
Wainright said the two went head-to-head this past summer and “it was a great one!” With Wainright’s strength and Wiggins’s length, the potential matchup again stands to be good in college. And when the time comes, Wainright will likely have done his homework.
“I can’t say much [about his game] because all his highlights are dunking,” Wainright said. “Highlights show all the positive things, [so] I don’t know his weaknesses yet.”
One weakness that Wainright and others are sure not to find in Wiggins is fear. How many 18-year-olds these days are able to shrug off the media barrage, ignore the scrutiny over how and when he makes his college choice and endure the senseless social media vitriol afterward from the same people who begged him to come to their school before 12:30 p.m. Tuesday?
In the unruly world of recruiting, Wiggins proved to be one-of-a-kind in his approach. Now the question is, will he reach similar rare heights in college and the NBA?