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Wiggins wins player of year

Mar. 28, 2013 @ 07:01 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Huntington Prep's Andrew Wiggins walked into his class at 9:45 a.m., Wednesday, expecting to learn about history.

Instead, Wiggins walked into the class at St. Joseph Central Catholic School and became a part of history.

Wiggins, the 6-foot-8, 215-pound Huntington Prep boys basketball phenom, was met in class by seven-time NBA All-Star and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Alonzo Mourning, who presented him with the 2013 Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year trophy.

"It was just one of those moments that you don't forget," Wiggins said. "I was just walking in like a normal day at school, I didn't know anything about it, was in my school clothes and then Alonzo Mourning walked through the door. I was like, 'What?'"

Mourning walked into Wiggins' classroom pretending to speak about the globalization of the NBA.

Minutes later, he let on to the real reason he was there -- to present Wiggins with Gatorade's highest honor in boys basketball.

However, Mourning's speech about the globalization of basketball was not entirely misleading.

With the announcement, Wiggins, a Toronto native, became the first Canadian-born recipient of the Gatorade National Player of the Year award.

"It doesn't matter where you are from or where you live or how you live, if you have talent and you can do well in school, the sky is the limit," Wiggins said.

Wiggins was pleased to have his name inscribed on a trophy that includes past winners such as Kobe Bryant (1996), LeBron James (2002 and 2003), Dwight Howard (2004), Kevin Love (2007) and, of course, Mourning, who was the third recipient of the award in 1988.

"Just to know that my name is on the list with some of the best to play the game -- some of the best athletes in the world right now, I'm honored," Wiggins said.

Mourning put into perspective what it means to be part of the Gatorade family.

"We have an amazing alumni of individuals who received this award," Mourning said. "Andrew, being a part of the history of this award, is a tremendous honor for him. I'm very proud of him -- not just with what he has done on the court, but how he carries himself off the court as a young man."

Wiggins, who was named last week as the Gatorade West Virginia Player of the Year, averaged 23.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.6 blocks per game to lead Huntington Prep to a 30-3 record and a Top 10 national ranking in the 2012-13 season.

The accolade adds to a prestigious early off-season for Wiggins, who has yet to make his college choice. His final four schools are (in no particular order) Kansas, Kentucky, Florida State and North Carolina.

Wiggins was also recently honored in Atlanta as the 2013 Naismith Award winner, given to the best high school basketball player in the nation.

Mourning went into detail about what impressed him in watching Wiggins' overall game.

"I think the sky is the limit for his potential," Mourning said. "Obviously, when you look at his size and his length, you can think of individuals like a LeBron James, a Carmelo Anthony. You can see the skill level that he has and the unselfishness he has as a player. You can tell he's going to be an immediate impact player at the collegiate level. I'm excited to see his career blossom as a player."

Wiggins is going to be competing in the McDonald's All-American Game at the United Center in Chicago on April 3.

After returning from that game, Wiggins will then be back for a week before heading to Brooklyn, N.Y., to participate in the Jordan Brand Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on April 13.

From there, Wiggins will travel cross-country to compete in the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore., as part of the World Team. Last season, Wiggins led the World Team to a win in the event.

"I'm really looking forward to the Hoop Summit," Wiggins said. "That's the game where I get to play with the international players. It was a great feeling because last year, all the international players were friendly and it was cool to be there."

This marked the second year in a row that Wiggins was named as the Gatorade award in West Virginia.

Wiggins began the school year as a member of the Class of 2014, but reclassified prior to the start of the 2012-13 season.

He was then ranked as the No. 1 college prospect in the Class of 2013 by Rivals, Scout and ESPN.

He has a 3.31 GPA at Huntington St. Joe while also being active in community events and serving as a goodwill visitor to Cabell Huntington Hospital's Children's Hospital.

On Thursday morning, McDonald's will be hosting a send-off party for Wiggins prior to his departure for the McDonald's All-American Game. That send-off party gets underway at 11 a.m. in the St. Joe gym.