Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins laughs off comparisons and high expectations

Posted Thursday, Nov. 07, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Kansas coach Bill Self joked a few weeks ago that freshman Andrew Wiggins could score 20 points and grab 10 rebounds in his debut Friday night and it would be a disappointment when compared to the debut of Kansas legend Wilt Chamberlain.

Chamberlain scored 52 points and grabbed 31 rebounds in his first varsity game as a Jayhawk in 1956.

Wiggins, the most highly coveted recruit in recent memory, was compared to Chamberlain and other KU greats in a Sports Illustrated story several weeks ago.

The 6-foot-8 guard, who hails from Vaughan, Ontario, is the son of former NBA player Mitchell Wiggins and Olympian Marita Payne-Wiggins, who was a sprinter for Canada in the 1984 and 1988 Games. His older brother Nick Wiggins plays for nearby Wichita State.

Wiggins wasn’t fazed by the comparison. “No, not really,” he said at Big 12 Media Day in October. “That first game Wilt had was ridiculous. I don’t know if I’ll ever get that in college. I’ll just continue to work hard. I know the fans will continue to be there whether I’ll play good or not. They’re loyal.”

Do you get a lot of advice from your family, including your brother Nick, who helped take Wichita State to the Final Four a year ago? I talk to my family every day. My brother said the opportunity he had to go to the Final Four was something that was amazing, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. He said they worked hard. Gave their all and no one thought they could do it and they ended up doing it. That just shows the character of all of them.

How do you think you’ve fit into the Kansas roster with so many new players, whether they’re freshmen like yourself or transfers like Tarik Black (from Memphis), having everyone come together and build that chemistry? I think I’m fitting in good. The team’s helped me fit in. When I don’t know something I can ask people on the team and they can help me, give me a helping hand. It’s something special. It’s like a puzzle and we’re putting all the pieces together. Tarik is like a coach on the floor. He’s experienced, he’s been through college basketball, he knows what to do, what not to do. He coaches me on the court.

Being such a heralded incoming star, are you ever afraid to ask for help? No, not from people I know and who have my best interest, like the team or the coaching staff. They wouldn’t point me in the wrong direction.

How do you handle the media crush and these people in your face? I’m used to it now. I was always comfortable with it. At some point I didn’t like it. But I didn’t mind doing it.

Who’s your favorite pro player? What skills would you most like to emulate? Kevin Durant. I’d add everything if I could. He’s my favorite player. I like everything he does. From his moves, to his shot, to everything.

Did you ever play ice hockey growing up? I tried, but it’s not me. But I can skate on ice.

Do you get recognized around Lawrence? The whole team does. Basketball in Lawrence is crazy. The fans are true loyal fans. They’ll recognize you wherever you are.

What put it over the top for you to choose Kansas? My relationship with the team, the coaching staff and my brother being in Wichita.

Stefan Stevenson 817-390-7760 Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

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