Andrew Wiggins was put in an extremely tough spot this summer as he embarked on his NBA journey, but his former high school coach believes he’s well-equipped to handle whatever the league throws at him.
Wiggins was selected with the number one overall pick in this summer’s draft by the Cavaliers, but that was before LeBron James had decided to return to Cleveland as a free agent.
Once that plan was set into motion, so was the challenge of assembling a roster that could compete for a title this season — which meant that Wiggins found himself no longer in to be in Cleveland’s future plans.
There were awkward interviews coupled with radio silence from LeBron, making things more difficult for a top draft pick than we’ve seen in quite some time. But given his past, Wiggins may just be able to put it all behind him more quickly than most.
From Jeff Caplan of NBA.com:
A sad end to a long, strange summer for Wiggins? More like an eagerly anticipated beginning, says Rob Fulford, Wiggins’ high school coach at Huntington Prep in West Virginia.
“Andrew is such a good kid; he’s just a classy kid, very humble, very respectful,” Fulford, now an assistant at Missouri, told NBA.com this week. “I think this whole process with the trade rumors, he could care less. That kid just wants to play basketball. The fact that LeBron never reached out to him, Andrew could care less what LeBron James thinks of him.” …
“You have to understand, this kid, the media circus was around from the beginning when he got here in August of his junior year in high school until he left Huntington in May of his senior year after graduation,” Fulford said. “It was just a circus. I think it prepared him for what was going to happen at Kansas and even now he’s used to it, and I think he’s handled it really well. With the parents that he has, both have been professional athletes, I think it helped that he’s been kind of groomed in that manner.”
All of this makes plenty of sense.
Wiggins himself said he was hoping for the reported trade to go down, because he tends to perform better in situations where he doesn’t have much of a choice. And, on a rebuilding Minnesota team playing with a guard like Ricky Rubio, he’ll not only have plenty of playing time to develop in live game situations, but he’ll have someone capable of getting him the ball in prime position to score.
It may have been a less than ideal way for Wiggins to begin his NBA career. But the drama is behind him now, and he seems uniquely prepared to quickly move on from it, while getting an opportunity to immediately contribute in his new situation at the very same time.