Wiggins brothers set maddening pace
You know Andrew and Nick, but the eldest Wiggins brother is also playing in March
One is a guaranteed lottery pick and a potential No. 1 pick in June's NBA draft.
Another is on a team that is 34-0 and pointing toward a second Final Four run.
And the other ...
What, you didn't know there was another Wiggins' brother?
Mitch, a senior at Southeastern University in Florida, just finished a storybook run in the NAIA Division II tournament. The Fire, making their first tourney appearance in school history, are only the second team at the school to qualify for nationals in any sport. They rolled all the way to the Final Four, hitting a buzzer-beating 3-pointer against the No. 1 seed along the way before losing to Indiana Wesleyan in the semifinals.
Forget the lure of the $1 billion bracket challenge.
The Wiggins family already has won March.
On Friday, Andrew and No. 2-seeded Kansas will face Eastern Kentucky in St. Louis. Three hours later, in the same building, Nick and top-seeded Wichita State play Cal Poly or Texas Southern.
The next day, Mitch, Final Four appearance in hand, will compete in the NAIA All-Star dunk contest in Kansas City, Mo., a drivable four hours away. "All of these things happening at once, I could never imagine it," Mitch said. "It's just crazy."
It is familial domination like no other -- one brother already in a Final Four, two more with decent shots to make their own Final Fours, and perhaps a national title winner among the three. Kansas and Wichita State, on opposite sides of the bracket, could meet only once -- on April 7 in the national championship game.
Mitch already has plans for such a doomsday scenario: He'll sit in a neutral place, wearing colors for each team.
Andrew said he hopes it happens, because such a game would mean the brothers have achieved all they can achieve.
Nick, the feistier, more outspoken one among the bunch, looks at it a little differently.
"I wouldn't look at it as playing my brother; I'd look at it as playing a Jayhawk," he said -- and, yes, you could hear the Shocker sneering for all things KU. But there is far more love and only a little in-state-rival loathing between these three. This wild ride through March is just the climax of texting, Snapchatting and Skyping each other through a wild ride of a season.
Andrew and Nick turn to their big brother for advice; Andrew and Mitch marvel at Nick's undefeated run; and Nick and Mitch sit back and soak in all of the attention that's come Andrew's way.
It's easy to see how it could boil over into some serious sibling rivalry. Instead there's been nothing but brotherly love. Even Mitch, tucked into the more obscure world of the NAIA, hasn't turned even the slightest bit green with envy.
"Not even close. No way," he said. "When you're in a family, you want each other to reach their goals because you love each other so much. There's no way there'd be jealousy."
That's the way it's always been between the Wiggins boys. They grew up like brothers often do, toeing the line between fiercely competitive and thoroughly supportive. They wanted only the best for one another -- unless they were playing one another.
Then it was war.
On the playgrounds and parks, they might pretend to be other people -- Mitch leaned toward Tracy McGrady, Nick, sticking to his Canadian routes, opted for Vince Carter, and Andrew waffled between Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony -- but when they were just the Wiggins brothers, it was on.
"You never want to lose to your brother," Nick said. "Especially your younger brother. Andrew would always talk big stuff, but I always beat him. An elbow to the mouth once in a while never hurt."
Sometimes their dad, Mitchell, would jump in and up the ante. The concept of letting his boys win never crossed the former Florida State All-American and NBA player's mind. He took it to them the hardest.
"He's still undefeated against us, or at least he thinks he is," Mitch said.
Said Andrew: "That's what prepared me, them beating up on me and not taking it easy on me."
One by one the brothers headed to college, each carving his own path. Mitch, who spent two years at Hillsborough Junior College (Plant City, Fla.), opted for Southeastern, a small Christian school in Lakeland, Fla.
A year later, Nick hit the juco trail, starting at Vincennes (Vincennes, Ind.) before transferring to Wabash Valley (Mt. Carmel, Ill.) and eventually landing at Wichita State.
And finally, there is youngest brother Andrew, the apple of every NBA general manager's eye, on the cover of national magazines before he played a minute, deemed a generational talent before he put on a Kansas uniform.
All three have had their highs and lows this season. In his first year at Southeastern, Mitch averaged 15.3 points per game, but, slowed by a shoulder injury this year, he just returned to the lineup on Feb. 1 and his production has been down.
Nick, who has had maybe the smoothest two years, still has had to deal with the mounting pressure of an undefeated run and the critics who question the Shockers' worth.
Meanwhile, Andrew has endured the klieg lights that come with recruiting rankings and high expectations. Each has turned to his brother to get him through.
"We help just by staying close," Mitch said. "You know, with Andrew, he's has good games and he's the best, and bad games, he's the worst. We just keep him level. And with Nick, you can see that team is a family, that they're sticking together through all the doubters. For me, thank god I had them. When I was down on myself and I wanted to play, they told me to take care of my injury and not worry. We've just been there for each other."
And now for the payoff, a March that is deliriously and wonderfully mad.
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