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Friday, March 9, 2012

Andrew Wiggins: The Next Big Thing

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to check out the #1 ranked sophomore in the country up close at Washington DC's Trinity-Washington College. His name is Andrew Wiggins and he hails from Canada, but plays for a stacked Huntington Prep team located in West Virginia.

He shares a backcourt with 3 other high Division I prospects (Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Negus Webster-Chan, Javontae Hawkins), two of them seniors, but even at a younger age, he was leaps and bounds more impressive.

The first glipses I got of Wiggins was during warm ups. I saw him taking some jumpers and was unimpressed. His shot is all wrist and is very flat. I was prepared to be disappointed at this point. If this kid can't even shoot, just how impressive can this sophomore be against this high level of competition? Surely he isnt going to be able to just bully his way to the rim each possession...

The game started with Wiggins winning the tip against the taller Chris Obekpa. Obekpa is an impressive athlete in his own right and I will cover him later. After gaining possession, Wiggins took to the the post and began playing the role of a power forward. This was very good to see as Wiggins displayed plenty of positives signs while doing this. The first would be toughness. It is one thing to be a great athlete, but to be willing to battle inside when your true position is a guard is noteworthy. Secondly. he showed that he was a team player. He played his role in the offense, which looked like a relaxed version of the flex offense, and did the little things. He moved without the ball, set picks, and looked to find his teammates. He was very aggressive on the boards.

At the end of the first half, his team was trailing by 20 points. Wiggins had been efficient, but he hadn't asserted himself enough. That isnt to say he wasn't playing hard, he just didnt have the ball in his hands enough. On the opportunities he did get, he converted at a great rate. He is a terrific finisher at the rim, even when he isn't exploding out of the gym on dunks. He finished a couple of and-1 lay ups and converted all of his free throws for the game.

In the third quarter, Wiggins was ready to lead his team to victory. Our Savior's aforementioned center, Chris Obekpa, was in foul trouble and had to be taken out of the game. This opened up the lane for Wiggins, who took full advantage. Wiggins made everything look so easy, smooth, and graceful until it came time to elevate for thunderous dunks. He has that rare quick and explosive leaping ability and a calmness and smoothness to his game that reminds you of Ray Allen (minus the jumper of course).

At the end of the third quarter, Wiggins let his star shine, in what would be considered his coming out party for the game. He had a spectacular baseline drive dunk in the final minute, followed by a rebound and a buzzer beater from near halfcourt as time expired. His shot is ugly, but he can hit threes at a decent rate.

By the end of the game, Wiggins had finished leading his team to victory and I dont think he turned it over or missed more than one shot. He played a near flawless game and it is crazy to think that he is only a sophomore. Ive seen plenty of top 10 senior prospects the past few years and he is the best guard Ive seen at any age in high school. The kid is destined to be a star and I am pulling for him because he seems like a great, hard working kid as well.