2/18/13

Andrew Wiggins Is Indeed As Amazing As Advertised

Andrew Wiggins was in my hometown will be the beginning to a story that I will tell 20 years from now God willing. What is said next remains to be seen. If you believe the hype it will be a story about Canada’s greatest basketball player ever. The fact he should be the first Canadian to be picked number one overall in the 2014 draft. Who knows maybe someday he will even come home and play for the Raptors?

I fully admit Terrence Ross winning the slam dunk contest on Saturday night was not the least bit exciting for me. He may have worn Vince Carter’s jersey, but I don’t think he ever will be Vince. On Sunday I was going to see “The Next Big Thing” not that he looks anything like Brock Lesnar. “Canada’s Lebron James” he is filled out for his age but not the mass of humanity that Lebron was in high school. However, it became obvious at the end of the warm-ups that the hype is all justified. Wiggins was unassuming for most of the warm-ups and than he threw down a dunk that put half of last night’s NBA Dunk Contest to shame.

It was just the beginning as Wiggins came out of the gates and looked like he was on his way to beating his 57 point performance from just a week or so ago. That would not be the case though after a couple of dunks that made your jaw drop and a three that looked so easy for him from the high school three point line, he would slow his roll. The great ones seem to have that switch they can turn on and off and you saw that from Wiggins throughout the rest of the afternoon. Every once in a while there was a block or a dunk just to let you know he could do it.

That said, he seemed a lot like Lebron James as high school player in the sense he seemed just as happy to let the others on his team have success. Like his best friend Xavier Rathan-Mayes who if you haven’t heard is already set to go to Florida State. Wiggin’s father and mother also went to FSU as well. Rathan-Mayes told of his friend and his talent that it was “mind boggling.” He continued talking about his friends talents “His athletic ability is something you see once in a lifetime.”

He goes on to praise his work ethic and his humble nature. Wiggins is pretty humble and pretty matter of fact. He is soft spoken and his game talks much louder than anything he had to say in the 15 minutes or so he was thrown in front of a media gathering that was larger than your average Raptor game.

I joked on Twitter that if you covered basketball in Ontario and were not on assignment in Houston for All-Star Weekend you were visiting Hamilton, Ontario. It was a who’s who of Canadian basketball media. It really was good to see not as someone who works in the media, but as a fan of the sport of basketball.  When All-Star Saturday Night is still on TSN 2 and not TSN in favour of curling it gets discouraging.

The first one of these young kids that I got to know was Myck Kabongo who is finally back playing for Texas. I will always say that if kids are talented enough not just because of Myck’s issues with NCAA but growing up with the “Fab 5” of Michigan that you should get out as soon as you can.

Andrew Wiggins could step on a NBA floor next season and I don’t think he would look out of place. He already looks bigger than a rookie DeMar DeRozan who I got to see up in Ottawa at his first camp with the Raptors.

Another thing I learned from getting to know Myck was how many players that he knew from the NBA that would be a phone call away for him if he wanted advice. Andrew Wiggin’s list of those guys is like a hall of fame list that includes Lebron James, Kevin Durant and turned 50 yesterday Michael Jordan.

I can’t imagine at the age of 17 having the ability to talk to such royalty in the sport or business I love. I will be honest I am still amazed Jack Armstrong knows me and is an e-mail or phone call away. This is at my age which is far from the age of 17.

Andrew Wiggins looks to be the most talented of a group of young Canadian basketball players that I am getting to know and many others are as well. There are a few things I find they all have in common.

They have a pride in being Canadian, a sense of responsibility to grow the sport and be role models for the kids younger than them. They also all have a humble nature but despite that have a swagger and are not hiding the fact they are good from anybody. You should be proud of these kids and what they are doing to make America aware that Canada has talent in the sport that was invented by a Canadian.

Can I tell you Andrew Wiggins will live up to all these great expectations? No, but neither can Andrew Wiggins himself. That said, after seeing him on and off the floor I can totally understand why people think these massive thoughts and feel confident this is a young man that gets where he is at and wants this perhaps more than a nation of people that want it for him.

That said, he is still aware he is at the end of the day a kid on the verge of his eighteenth birthday. As much as I might get mad at the fact if he was hockey player he would be known from coast to coast in this country, there is lots of time for that. He is likely a bigger deal in the U.S than he is in parts of this country. Those must be those people watching curling on TSN. Wiggins is another example of a young man that has proven he is a talented basketball player regardless of the fact he comes from Canada.

He just might be the one that takes basketball to a new level in this country. If there is anything I have learned in the past few years, even if for some strange reason he isn’t, there are more and more kids coming. It is not to say that I am betting against him after what I saw today that would be pretty foolish.

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