“From the information and the feedback that I got, teams seem to love me,” Wiggins said. “I can’t ignore what teams are saying based off of my workouts, based off of the combine, the pro days and interviews. And I’ve got to continue to keep my foot on the gas and move forward.”
As a senior, Wiggins would have been one of the most important players on the Terps’ roster. He scored 14.5 points per game as a junior and performed particularly well late in the season as the Terps climbed back into the NCAA tournament picture and earned a No. 10 seed. He recorded a career-best 27 points in the final game of the season, a second-round loss to Alabama. During the final 12 games of the season, Wiggins averaged nearly 18 points.
That surge made testing the NBA draft waters this summer seem like the obvious choice for Wiggins, and the recent feedback he received prompted him to turn professional. He is already 22 but said his age only played a “small factor” in his decision.
“It’s incredible the number of people that I reached out to, the number of people that reached out to me, just about making the right decision and choosing whether or not I’m going back to school or staying in the draft,” Wiggins said. “There was a ton that went into it.”
Wiggins said he has worked out with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, New Orleans Pelicans, Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks, and he has a workout scheduled with the Phoenix Suns this week. The draft is July 29.
At 6-foot-6, Wiggins is an attractive NBA prospect because of his length and athleticism. Wiggins finished his junior year averaging 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from three-point range. The Greensboro, N.C., native improved each season in College Park, particularly as a passer, and became more aggressive as he developed. Wiggins started 50 of his 96 games and scored 1,052 points in his college career.
Wiggins earned an invitation to the NBA combine after a strong showing at the G League Elite Camp. In some projections, he is expected to be selected late in the draft, and Wiggins said before a pre-draft workout with the Warriors: “Ideally, I want to be a first-rounder. Want to hear promises, guarantees of me getting drafted.”
But after the past few weeks of workouts, Wiggins said, “I definitely have a great amount of confidence in the path that I have ahead of me.”
Wiggins’s announcement resolved a key piece of uncertainty related to Coach Mark Turgeon’s roster heading into the 2021-22 campaign. Rising senior guard Eric Ayala, who wasn’t projected to be selected in the draft, recently announced his return to College Park, and Turgeon also has bolstered the roster with four scholarship transfers. With Wiggins’s departure, Maryland has an open scholarship spot and could add another player.
With Wiggins, the Terps would have entered the season as one of the top teams in the Big Ten and in the nation. Turgeon probably will still have a squad ranked in the top 20, featuring Ayala and junior Donta Scott as key returners. Two transfers — center Qudus Wahab from Georgetown and point guard Fatts Russell from Rhode Island — are also probable starters.
With a roster filled with other talented players — including junior guard Hakim Hart, who started 19 games last season; James Graham III, a forward who enrolled early in December; and incoming freshman Julian Reese, a four-star forward from Baltimore — Turgeon could still have one of his deepest Maryland squads. Darryl Morsell is the only other starter Maryland lost this offseason; he decided to play his fifth season of eligibility, granted by the NCAA because of the coronavirus pandemic, at Marquette.
During all three seasons Wiggins spent at Maryland, the Terps have been an NCAA tournament-caliber team. They lost in the second round of the tournament both times they got to compete in the postseason. When the Terps had their best chance to make a run after winning a share of the Big Ten regular season title in 2019-20, the postseason was canceled because of the pandemic.
Wiggins would have been Maryland’s go-to scorer as a senior, but instead Turgeon will have to look to other options.
“It was incredibly hard, man, because I love Maryland,” Wiggins said. “I love Terp Nation, my teammates and everything, but at the end of the day, I felt like I had to do what I thought was best for me, and that’s to stay in the NBA draft.”