Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Top prospect follows his heart

Canadian hoops star to play at Kansas

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Sholten Singer / the associated press
Andrew Wiggins smiles along side his mother Marita Payne-Wiggins at his signing ceremony Tuesday.

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Sholten Singer / the associated press Andrew Wiggins smiles along side his mother Marita Payne-Wiggins at his signing ceremony Tuesday.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Canadian basketball prospect 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 the Wiggins wanted it.

And just like that, Lawrence, Kan., became more of focal point for the upcoming college basketball season.

"I'm looking forward to getting there and just doing my thing," Wiggins said.

The 6-8 Toronto 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.

His addition adds to one of the top recruiting classes in the country.

Despite the loss of Ben McLemore to the NBA draft, four of Kansas' five recruits are considered to be in the top 50 nationally, including guards Conner Frankamp and Wayne Selden, forward Brannen Greene and centre Joel Embiid.

Kentucky already had eight signees in what is considered to be its greatest recruiting class ever.

North Carolina's recruiting class includes McDonald's All-American big men Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks.

Then there's Florida State, the only one of the four schools without an NCAA title. Wiggins' 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 medallist. Older brother Nick plays guard at Wichita State and another brother, Mitchell Jr., plays at NAIA school Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla.

"Florida State was great for mom, it was great for dad," Mitchell Wiggins said. But he recalled telling his son, "It's your time. It's not 20-30 years ago. And Florida State (would have been) a great choice."

But the father said Kansas will "be a great fit. Hopefully Andrew stays humble, stays hungry. We'll see how it plays out."

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 ceremony at St. Joseph's Central Catholic High School in Huntington, Va.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 15, 2013 D5

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