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Andrew Wiggins says he will declare for NBA Draft after one season at KU

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Monday, March 31, 2014, at 2:19 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, May 12, 2014, at 3:10 p.m.

— Bill Self, as he often does, provided the best walk-off line.

Andrew Wiggins’ farewell announcement was winding down, and he was asked for about the third time if he’d have had any regrets choosing Lawrence to spend his one season in college before entering the NBA Draft.

“I’m grateful I chose this school,” Wiggins said. “They showed me nothing but love. The teammates are like my brothers now. The coaches let me play my game. They made me feel comfortable, and the fans were crazy. If I could do it all over again, I would.”

Pause.

“You can,” Self said. “You haven’t signed anything yet, have you?”

Even Wiggins’ parents, Mitch and Marita, and his older brother, Mitch Jr., who joined Self and Wiggins at the table, smiled.

Turns out, Andrew Wiggins hasn’t signed anything. Mitch, a former NBA player, said that the process to select an agent had just started, and “it will be as difficult as picking a school.”

But the Wiggins era at Kansas officially has concluded. And it produced largely positive results.

On Monday, Wiggins picked up a couple more national honors, including a spot on the 10-member Wooden Award All-America team and a place on The Associated Press All-America second team.

But Wiggins made it clear from the outset that a long college career wasn’t in the cards.

“I’m confident that I’m ready,” Wiggins said. “It’s always been a big dream of mine to follow my father’s footsteps and play in the highest level of basketball.”

Some online draft analysts have Wiggins as the top selection in the June draft based on his physical gifts and potential. Wiggins’ athleticism helped him set a freshman scoring standard at Kansas with 597 points. Freshmen became eligible in college basketball in 1972-73. He also led the Jayhawks in scoring with a 17.1 average.

Wiggins is Self’s fourth one-and-done player at KU, following Xavier Henry in 2010, Josh Selby in 2011 and Ben McLemore in 2013, although McLemore spent a redshirt season in Lawrence. Wiggins had the best season of the bunch.

He couldn’t avoid the season-ending letdown of an NCAA Tournament loss to Stanford in the round of 32, a game in which Wiggins scored four points, and some may question whether Wiggins lived up the enormous amount of hype that followed him from Huntington Prep in West Virginia.

Self isn’t among them.

“The improvement he made this year with his approach and mindset was a great improvement,” Self said. “He’s one of those guys, if the team didn’t have to have him do it, he a lot of time deferred to others. But game point, usually he was right there.

“His talent is unbelievable. Even though there are other great athletes out there, I don’t think there are many others who can do the things physically that he can do. His ceiling is the highest I’ve been around. He’s going to have a remarkable future, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work.”

Wiggins said he welcomes the idea being the overall top selection.

“You want people to label you the best player,” Wiggins said. “That’s the competitive side.”

Wiggins said he has no favorite NBA team, but if he found his name on the roster of the league’s lone franchise in his native Canada, the Toronto Raptors, he’d be happy.

“It would be really good to play in Canada in front my home crowd every day,” Wiggins said.

Wherever it is, it won’t be in Lawrence, despite a last-minute attempt by Self.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.

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