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Andrew Wiggins chooses Kansas over Canada, for now

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, June 10, 2013, at 9:49 p.m.

— Andrew Wiggins is the future of Canadian basketball. His immediate future, though, is at the University of Kansas.

And Wiggins, a 6-foot-7 swingman from Thornhill, Ontario, has elected to spend his summer at KU, passing on an opportunity to play with the Canadian national team at the U-19 World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic.

Kansas coach Bill Self said Monday that Wiggins could be on campus as soon as Wednesday.

“He’s ready to get here,” Self said. “… It was a pretty gutsy move to say ‘I’m not gonna play, I’m gonna come here.’ And that wasn’t forced by us at all. That was something where we were hoping he’d come down here, and we were gonna work with the Canadian team to try to make both things work.”

The early arrival could have long-term benefits for a Kansas program in the midst of a roster-wide rebuild. Wiggins, the No. 1 overall recruit in the class of 2013, is the last of a highly touted six-man freshman class to arrive on campus. And he’ll have the opportunity to take part in the Jayhawks’ summer workouts while bonding with his new teammates.

“I think it speaks volumes that he’s trying to get here as soon as he possibly can,” Self said.

The Canadian basketball scene is in the midst of something of a renaissance. And Wiggins, an uber-talented phenom tabbed with the nickname “Maple Jordan,” is part of an ongoing push to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil. But for now, Wiggins appears more focused on setting himself up for a successful turn in what could be his only year in Lawrence.

“Andrew’s decision to prepare himself this summer for the upcoming season is a decision we acknowledge,” said Rowan Barrett, executive vice-president of Canada Basketball's senior men's program. “Our team will miss Andrew this summer, but we remain focused on Andrew's long-term development and our organizational goals for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and beyond.”

In addition, Self is hopeful that Wiggins can slow down and recharge this summer after spending the last year in the glare of a recruitment that drew national attention.

“His life is in so much fast-forward right now, and I think he should relish being a kid for as long as he possibly can,.” Self said. “Because you’ve got so many people pulling at him in so many different directions.

“And if he were gonna spend nine weeks with that team and then come right in and be intense with us right off the bat, that makes for a long year for a kid that’s not used to carrying that kind of pounding.”

KU teams honored — The KU men’s basketball program and women’s cross-country team were recognized by the NCAA for achieving four-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores that are among the nation’s top-10 percent in their respective sports.

The multi-year average for the latest APR report, which includes information on all teams at all schools, will be released Tuesday.

The men’s basketball program scored a perfect APR score of 1,000 for the seven straight year. The APR, which accounts for graduation and retention, is supposed to provide a real-time look at the academic success of specific programs. Teams that fall below an APR of 925 risk the loss of scholarships and postseason bans.

KU hires tennis coach — Kansas on Monday hired Texas Tech assistant Todd Chapman to be its new women’s tennis coach. Chapman, an assistant on the Red Raiders’ Big 12 title teams in 2012 and 2013, replaces Amy Hall-Holt, who failed to record a Big 12 finish better than fifth before resigning on May 8.

Chapman, who spent four years as an assistant at Texas Tech, also served as the head men’s and women’s coach at Texas-Pan American from 2001-03.

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