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Wiggins did it his way

May. 14, 2013 @ 09:41 PM

HUNTINGTON — For someone who has said not to like all the media attention, Andrew Wiggins seemed as comfortable as ever Tuesday in front of friends, family and classmates at St. Joseph Central Catholic School in Huntington.

There was no waver in his voice.

There was no indecision.

There was simply a proclamation that the nation’s top boys basketball prospect would be attending the University of Kansas.

And the decision was his — no one else’s to make.

“The other schools were great, but Kansas had my heart,” Wiggins said as he sat relaxed in Huntington Prep head coach Rob Fulford’s office following the ceremony. “That’s it. I followed my heart.”

It was a simple statement, but there was something different about it than the many times he had spoken before about recruiting.

There was a great sense of conviction about it.

Heading into Tuesday, many people questioned whether he was convinced of any school and whether his parents would end up making the choice for him, given that they were both Florida State grads.

The interesting thing to learn upon meeting his parents is that the choice was Wiggins’ choice to make alone.

“It’s something that we talked about yesterday when we got into town,” said his father, Mitchell Wiggins. “Florida State is great for Mom, it was great for Dad and everything worked out for us there, but this is your time and you have to experience what you are going to go through and make your own choice.”

From the day Wiggins reclassified to the Class of 2013, questions arose about his signing and what the ceremony would be like.

Almost defiantly, Wiggins said he didn’t plan on having one or, that if he did, it would be extremely small and wouldn’t be a showcase because he didn’t enjoy all the hype.

He stayed true to his word, having a small, much more intimate ceremony with only people from the Huntington area and his family attending.

And he certainly enjoyed the day, as evidenced by the beaming smile that never left his face.

“I didn’t really want to open up to the public,” Andrew Wiggins said. “I knew it would be jam-packed in here and I wouldn’t have the people I appreciate just watching.

“I wanted the people that appreciate me and the people I appreciate to be here watching while I made my decision because they are the ones who helped me out throughout the last two years and my mom and dad throughout my lifetime. I didn’t really want a lot of random people here. I wanted more people I knew.”

Not only did the ceremony fit Wiggins’ style, but so does Kansas, according to his father, who had spoken to his son about Kansas and why he was choosing them over his alma mater, Florida State. Mitchell Wiggins said the Seminoles were No. 2 out of the four teams.

“They run a lot of pick and-roll, pick-and-pop — a lot of stuff as he goes to the next level, he’s already ready for,” Mitchell Wiggins said. “The system was probably the biggest thing and the coach. (Kansas) Coach (Bill) Self is a very good coach and Andrew had a good feel for him. I think it’s going to be a great fit.”

After receiving Wiggins’ National Letter of Intent, Self went on record talking about what it means to the program to gain a player of Wiggins’ caliber.

He also heaped praise on the Huntington Prep staff for getting Wiggins ready to compete at the highest level immediately.

“He's spent the last couple of years at Huntington Prep and (head coach) Rob Fulford there has won as many games as just about anybody in America the last few years,” Self said in a news release. “He does a great job with the kids. We feel we are getting a very mature and prepared player.”

The maturity side of Wiggins is something which has grown throughout this year and was on full display on Tuesday.

Throughout the whole process, Wiggins has had perceived pressure from all angles — potential pressure to attend Florida State because of the family ties and the ties to teammate Xavier Rathan-Mayes (FSU recruit), potential pressure from Kentucky fans to join the Wildcats and ensure the supposed “greatest recruiting class ever” and the pressure to live up to the high expectations as the nation’s top prospect.

All that for a kid who just turned 18 in February.

Do you remember what you were doing when you were 18?

It’s something that, when put in perspective, impresses even more about the entire scenario as it gained full closure — and ironically, disclosure — on Tuesday.

“I’m proud of him for doing what he wanted to do,” Fulford said. “This was not an easy decision for him. It showed that Andrew didn’t let outside influences affect his decision. I know a lot of people wondered ‘Why’s he waiting this long?’ but the bottom line is, he made this decision when he was ready. I’m proud of him for not giving in and for making this decision for him.”

One month ago, Wiggins put a message on Twitter stating “Lol (Laughing out loud) if you ain't in my family you know nothing about my recruitment, lol stop with the rumors.”

It turned out that was never more true than on Tuesday.

Nearly everyone had Kansas at No. 3 or 4 in the Wiggins’ sweepstakes as his signing approached.

Few gave the Jayhawks a chance of landing the biggest fish in the Class of 2013 recruiting waters after Kentucky had snagged six McDonald’s All-Americans.

Yet, at 12:09 p.m., Wiggins proved his brother Nick Wiggins, a guard at Wichita State, to be prophetic with his proclamation that Andrew would “Shock the World.”

It was a shock to everyone - except Andrew Wiggins, that is.

Like everything else in the recruiting process, he did it his way.