Everybody's coming after Andrew Wiggins

May, 14, 2013
5/14/13
6:15
PM ET
No, we're not talking about the imbeciles on Twitter, the people who take time out of their day to write horrible things to an 18-year-old kid because he chose to attend a school different from the one they root for (and probably didn't even attend themselves). Hopefully Andrew Wiggins has paid no attention to those remarks. If he hasn't, I assume -- based on the impressive way he handled his surprising decision to attend Kansas on Tuesday -- he's already possessed of more perspective and maturity than any of the grown men and women wishing him ill on Twitter. Let's ignore these people, shall we?

[+] EnlargeAndrew Wiggins
Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY SportsAndrew Wiggins will wear a large bull's-eye while at Kansas next season.
Indeed, I'm talking about the rest of college basketball. Now that we know where Wiggins will play his one year of college hoops -- for Bill Self in Lawrence, Kan. -- we can extrapolate so much more. We can talk about what kind of lineup will suit Wiggins best, how his versatility will help a young Kansas team compensate for the loss of five starters and a rush of inexperienced newcomers playing big minutes and key roles previously occupied by seniors. And, perhaps most exciting, Kansas' nonconference and Big 12 opponents can begin circling dates on their calendars. Wigginsmas comes more than once a year.

Dana O'Neil hit on this in her column as to the pressure Wiggins will continue to face even after the compressed insanity surrounding his decision fades. As Dana wrote, Wiggins has impossibly high (though not unfair!) expectations to live up to next season, and any slip-ups or false starts will spawn any number of national overreactions. The general, vague pressure -- pressure from fans, pressure to live up to billing -- will be there from now until next April. It isn't going away.

There is a more specific kind of pressure, the kind Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg described to Andy Katz after Wiggins made his decision Tuesday:
"When you go against a guy compared to LeBron James, that's a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a lot of guys in our league," Hoiberg said. "The hype surrounding him is the main story. I'm sure everyone is taking note of that and the opportunity to play against him."

Allow me to translate for the unflinchingly polite native Iowan: We're all coming for Andrew Wiggins.

This is hardly a surprise. Every college player in the country knows who Wiggins is. They know what people say about him. They've heard the comparisons. They know he's already a near-lock to go No. 1 in the 2014 NBA draft. No one is going to be scared. Most are going to be convinced they're better than Wiggins, that all of their hard work and college basketball experience adds up to more than his talent. Any team with Kansas on its schedule just got an extra reason to put a bull's-eye on the Jayhawks' back.

This is nothing new for Kansas, of course, and it's nothing new for Wiggins, who has been the best player on the court in every possible setting -- the target of other players' attempts to boost their own profile at every recruiting event and high school game -- for as long as he can remember. But college basketball isn't easy for even the most talented freshmen. Imagine how much harder it must be when every single player in the country wants to prove you aren't as good as everyone seems to think you are.

That is the challenge Wiggins faces in 2013-14. It's not just high expectations and scrutiny from fans. It's not just about accomplishing as much as possible in a short period of time. It's about playing an entire freshman season with a target on your back, about being specifically challenged by every opponent every time you put on a uniform. It's the pressure of taking everyone's best shot every night. It's the peril of superstardom.

I can't decide which is bigger: Wiggins' challenge, or the potential thrill of seeing him take it on. All I know is November can't come soon enough.

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