So, you've heard of Andrew Wiggins, right? He's a freshman at Kansas. Pretty good at this whole basketball thing.
He's the No. 1 prospect who can't stop drawing comparisons to LeBron James, and not because people love to compare young stars to James -- that doesn't happen often, because nobody enjoys being laughed out of a room -- but because it's hard to come up with something better. The anticipation of Wiggins' arrival in the college game has been at a fever pitch long before he decided he would spend his (almost certainly) lone collegiate year in Lawrence, Kan. Since then, it's just kept growing. Even GQ is on board.
Given all that, it came as no surprise when the Big 12 announced Thursday that Wiggins had been selected to the preseason all-conference team. Of course he was. Except that the selection itself is actually historic: On Thursday, Wiggins become the first freshman to earn preseason All-Big 12 honors.
There are a few interesting things about this:
Really? The first ever? The Big 12's coaches are historically hard to impress, huh?
Speaking of which, these awards were voted on by the coaches. I'd argue that makes it even more impactful: Rather than media folks who have merely heard the good word, a group of well-paid basketball people who have spent four-plus years watching (and in some cases desperately recruiting) Wiggins agreed, at least in some small measure, that he was worthy of an honor no other player had been given.
And then there's this: Is Wiggins now a lock to be named a preseason All-American? Only one other incoming freshman, North Carolina's Harrison Barnes, has received that honor, and when Barnes disappointed the preseason award was used as a cudgel against everyone involved — Barnes, UNC, "the media," etc. It created an atmosphere in which every poll voter must be really, really sure about an incoming would-be All-American, because it wasn't so long ago that Barnes was the next Kobe Bryant.
And yet, at the end of the day, this is still just a preseason conference award. It means next to nothing. What it says about all of the stuff Wiggins can't control -- the media onslaught that has already begun, and the focus he'll be under all season long -- is something else entirely.