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Friday, January 17, 2014
Wiggins excels against top competition

By Ryan Feldman

Andrew Wiggins entered the season as the No. 1 recruit in college basketball and projected as the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

There’s been some talk about Wiggins falling short of his lofty expectations thus far. Some draft experts believe Duke’s Jabari Parker may have surpassed Wiggins as the projected No. 1 pick.

But Wiggins reminded scouts of his potential on Saturday, when he scored 13 straight Kansas points in the second half of the Jayhawks’ win against Kansas State. On Monday, he posted a career-high 19 rebounds to go along with 17 points in a win at Iowa State.

Despite his inconsistencies, Wiggins has played his best against his toughest competition.

Against ranked teams this season –- Duke, Florida, San Diego State, Kansas State and Iowa State –- Wiggins is averaging 20.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.

Against unranked opponents, he’s averaging 13.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Wiggins has been more efficient and is shooting better from inside the arc and 3-point range against ranked opponents.

Comparing the top three freshmen (based on 2013 ESPN 100 rankings) -- Wiggins, Parker and Julius Randle –- Wiggins is the most efficient offensively against ranked opponents.

Why hasn’t Wiggins taken over games as often as Parker and Randle?

Wiggins has not been featured in the Kansas offense the way the other freshmen have. Most of his offensive production has come within the flow of the offense.

Combining isolations, post-ups and plays in which he is the pick-and-roll ball-handler, Wiggins is averaging about two fewer 1-on-1 plays per game than both Parker and Randle. Wiggins has been more efficient than Randle on those plays despite Randle averaging nearly two-and-a-half more 1-on-1 plays per game.

Where Wiggins really has the edge over Parker and Randle –- and over almost any player -– is in transition.

Wiggins ranks eighth in the country in transition points per play (1.45) among players with at least 45 such plays this season.

While Wiggins may have a long way to go before becoming the next LeBron James, the numbers show he still might be the best prospect in this freshman class.