HUNTINGTON, W.Va.—Canadian basketball phenom Andrew Wiggins told a small gathering of family and friends at his high school gym Tuesday that he will play at Kansas.
Then the Huntington Prep star signed his letter-of-intent and officially became a Jayhawk. No big speech. No bands, live TV coverage or props.
Just the way Wiggins wanted it.
“I’m looking forward to getting there and just doing my thing,” Wiggins said.
The 6-foot-8-inch Vaughan, Ont., native chose Kansas over Kentucky, North Carolina, and Florida State. Wiggins said there wasn’t one particular selling point, taking into account each school’s coaching staff, players and program.
“I just followed my heart,” he said.
He’ll join one of the top recruiting classes in the country.
“I really thought it was one of those long shots, at least when we first got involved,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
Wiggins’s parents both attended Florida State, and the Seminoles had signed his Huntington Prep teammate and fellow Toronto native, Xavier Rathan-Mayes.
Wiggins’ father is former NBA first-round pick Mitchell Wiggins. His mother, Marita Payne-Wiggins, was a Canadian Olympic sprinter and silver medalist. Older brother Nick plays guard at Wichita State and another brother, Mitchell Jr., plays at NAIA school Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla.
Tuesday’s brief ceremony ended the frenzied pursuit of Wiggins, who averaged 23.4 points and 11.2 rebounds per game this season.
Rather than turn his announcement into a spectacle, Wiggins wanted a private signing ceremony where he attends classes at St. Joseph’s Central Catholic High School in Huntington.
Initially rated as a 2014 prospect, Wiggins shot to the top of recruiting charts when he decided last October to reclassify into his original high school class of 2013. The four major recruiting services rated Wiggins as the No. 1 overall recruit.
Wiggins had kept quiet on his intentions. He had yet to even make a verbal commitment and delayed his signing until almost the very end.
“This is the way I like it to be done, on my own time,” he said. “I’ve got a weight lifted off my shoulders. I can relax now.”
Wiggins’ game did the talking. He has the ability to make shots from all angles and distances, blow past defenders to the basket, and reach the rim at eye level. Wiggins was the recipient of this year’s Gatorade Boys National Basketball Player of the Year and Naismith Foundation national awards. He has been called the best prep prospect since LeBron James.
“I’m hearing the LeBron comparison and I saw LeBron play some high school, and I’m not sure that’s a fair comparison to anyone,” Self said. “But from a pure athletic ability, he [Wiggins] is one of the most pure athletes the college game has had for a while.”
Wiggins said he planned to relax at home and train with his brothers and some friends during the next few months. Self said he’s not sure when Wiggins will arrive in Lawrence because of the possibility of Wiggins’ involvement in some Canadian national teams over the summer.
With files from The Canadian Press
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