Commentary

Why we're all waiting on Wiggins

Originally Published: May 13, 2013
By Myron Medcalf | ESPN.com

Andrew WigginsArmando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune via Getty ImagesAndrew Wiggins' freakish athleticism makes his potential seemingly limitless.

Andrew Wiggins can lasso lightning with his bare hands.

He can leap over tall buildings and glide across torrential seas as though they were puddles.

He can walk through tornadoes and corral floodwater with his outstretched arms.

Well, not really.

But the buildup to Wiggins' college announcement on Tuesday has nearly turned the Canadian star into a deity, months before he'll compete in a Division I game. His delay -- whether intended or not -- has magnified the frenzy that surrounds his final selection. We're all waiting for Wiggins now.

But with any high-level prospect, it's important to separate fact from fiction.

Fiction: Wiggins, the greatest player who ever lived, will undoubtedly guide the team he chooses (North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas and Florida State are all possibilities) to a national championship and an unblemished record.

Fact: Wiggins, a rare talent, has the skills to lead any team he picks to a national title. He's that good. The buzz tied to this kid is warranted.

That's why you should care about the events that will reportedly transpire at 12:15 p.m. ET Tuesday, whether you're a fan of one of the schools that remain in the running for his talent or not.

Wiggins is special.

I gleaned that the handful of times I watched him play live on the AAU circuit. And I've had discussions with folks on the recruiting trail who analyzed the greatest players in recent history when they were Wiggins' age. They compare the star of the loaded 2013 recruiting class to those prodigies.

The consensus? He's a member of that LeBron James genetic pool. The players whom competitors can't simply overcome with hard work alone. They're gifted. Unique.

That's Wiggins. Sure, he might be overhyped. But he might be Michael or Magic or Durant, too.

Those three players emerged before the social media era. Through social media's assistance, this will be an unrivaled collegiate debut for a high school kid -- Lew Alcindor didn't have Twitter in the 1960s.

Wiggins is a 6-foot-8 wing with uncanny athleticism and minimal weaknesses. His father played in the NBA. His mother was an Olympic sprinter. With those roots, he belongs in a college basketball edition of the "X-Men."

By all accounts, Wiggins is the most important element of the 2013-14 college basketball season. If he chooses Kentucky, the Wildcats will be the most star-studded crew -- if the number of NBA prospects is the measuring stick -- in NCAA history. The Fab Five didn't have this juice.

If he chooses Florida State, then a Seminoles squad that finished 9-9 in the ACC last season will be a contender in a much stronger conference next season. They might run out of champagne in Tallahassee if Wiggins chooses FSU.

[+] EnlargeBill Self
AP Photo/David J. PhillipBill Self could have another title contender at Kansas if he lands Wiggins.

If he chooses Kansas, then a Jayhawks team that must replace the production of Elijah Johnson, Jeff Withey and Ben McLemore will return to a familiar position as a national title contender. Just imagine the buzz at Allen Fieldhouse if this happens.

And if he picks North Carolina, then the Tar Heels will be the team to beat in the new ACC -- Notre Dame, Pitt and Syracuse will join the league next season -- and possibly the country. Jordan, Worthy, Carter, Hansbrough, Wiggins?

Even if Wiggins picks a team you hate, there's a strong chance that the team you love will need to go through him and his teammates to win a national title.

Tuesday could be the beginning of a legendary career. And Tuesday could be the beginning of a cautionary tale. More for us than Wiggins. Many young players have failed to meet similarly grand expectations.

Again, Wiggins may not have intended to fuel the anticipation. But he's the only meaningful player in a stacked class who's waited this long to choose.

Yes, it's his right. And it's our right to pry and wonder, too. With that scrutiny comes escalated -- and sometimes impossible -- projections.

Wiggins, who played for Huntington Prep in Huntington, W.Va., has decided to make his announcement during a private affair that will feature family, friends and just one local reporter. At some point in the near future, however, he'll have to answer an endless stream of questions about his potential, his goals and his choice.

I'm sure he'd like to be a normal teenager. But he's not. Normal teenagers don't carry the kind of weight that will suddenly be placed atop his shoulders on Tuesday.

He may handle that tremendous burden with ease. Or, like most young men asked to reach a bar that high, he may struggle. Either way, it all begins with his announcement on Tuesday.

We should all pay attention.

More content: Andy Katz on Florida State playing the waiting game. Dave Telep handicaps the race Insider. Paul Biancardi on what's at stake Insider for each of the four schools. Our recruting gurus make predictions Insider.