When a prospect is put on the same level as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant etc, it comes with even more expectations. We’ve seen many prospects flounder under such pressure, and we’ve seen some keep up with the narrative, and then we have Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins was touted to be “The Next LeBron James” by many coming out of college, and while he is now an NBA Champion, he is clearly not at Lebron’s level. Many people forget that Andrew Wiggins was at this level, and fans that are newer to the product have never seen Andrew Wiggins in this light, so the real question is, how good was Andrew Wiggins in College?
Let’s start back with Andrew Wiggins’ early life and high school. Wiggins was born in Ontario, and is the son of Mitchell Wiggins, a former NBA player, and Marita Payne-Wiggins, a former Olympic track and field sprinter, giving him some of the best possible genetics for an NBA career. Wiggins started playing basketball when he was nine years old, also already standing at 5’7”. The average nine year old American is 4’11”, giving Wiggins a distinct height advantage before he was even ten years old. By the time Wiggins was 13, he was dunking. By the time he was 14, he was 6’6”, and infamously shattered a backboard after dunking on a rim at Dufferin Clark Community Centre. Once he got to High School, he brought Vaughan Secondary School to a 44-1 record while also winning a championship in his Sophomore season. In the championship game, the opposing crowd rained down chants of “Over-rater!” to which Wiggins scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a win, silencing his doubters before he was legally allowed to drive a car. After his sophomore year, he transferred to Huntington Prep School in West Virginia, where he averaged 23.8 points per game, 9.8 rebounds per game, 3.3 assists per game as well as 2.7 blocks per game, being rated the number one prospect in the country in 2012. Wiggins decided to reclass to the class of 2013, ending his high school career a year early, and also replacing then number one prospect Jabari Parker as the best prospect in the country. After earning a laundry list of awards such as a McDonald’s All-American, Naismith Player of the Year, Mr. Basketball USA and Gatorade National Player of the Year amongst others, Wiggins committed to Kansas.
Amongst Kansas, Wiggins chose between four schools total, including Florida State, Kentucky, North Carolina and of course his eventual decision in Kansas. By January of his Freshman season, Wiggins scored 17 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in a victory over Iowa State, becoming the second Freshman to ever put up those numbers against a ranked opponent. While Wiggins had star-studded performances in college, he was a consensus first overall pick well before he had ever stepped onto a college court. On March 8th, 2014 in the March Madness tournament, Wiggins exploded for 41 points against West Virginia, continuing to put his name in the headlines even before his NBA emergence. In the Round of 32, Wiggins and Kansas were upset by 10th seeded Stanford, giving the Stanford Cardinals their first Sweet Sixteen appearance in six years. This loss was not fully on the shoulders of Wiggins, rather blamed on Joel Embiid’s absence due to injury, which is half of the madness in the tournament. Wiggins did have a career low in his college career, only scoring four points against Stanford, giving them the upset with both stars basically not showing up. This performance did not wane any NBA teams from drafting him, and come draft day, Wiggins wore his nicest suit.
Andrew Wiggins was drafted first overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Wiggins ended up winning the 2015 NBA Rookie of the Year award, meeting expectations well in his first year. So far so good, so what really happened? It baffles most people, because Wiggins never suffered any career-altering injuries, or just failing to meet reasonable expectations, he more just didn’t get the greatest situation to start his career with in Minnesota. Wiggins went another seven years after his rookie of the year award without picking up any hardware, until he was traded to the Golden State Warriors in 2020.
Since this trade, he is now a one-time NBA All-Star, and an NBA Champion. Is Andrew Wiggins anything like LeBron James? No. Will he ever be like LeBron? No one knows for sure, but I doubt it. Wiggins averages 19.2 points per game as well as 2.3 assists per game and 4.5 rebounds per game. Wiggins has had a solid career by all means, but to fill the shoes of a giant, you’ll have to have giant feet.