Andrew Wiggins gave Florida State fans hope that the upcoming basketball season would look nothing like the last, an 18-16 campaign full of agonizing losses and frustrating moments.
A 6-foot-7 wing widely considered the best high school basketball prospect since LeBron James, Wiggins had all the connections to the Seminoles needed to make the connection: FSU had to be the favorite land the blue-chip recruit, right?
On Tuesday afternoon, Wiggins, whose parents attended and played sports at FSU,announced he’d sign a national letter of intent with Kansas, long considered a dark horse candidate for Wiggins’ services. The Jayhawks beat out FSU, Kentucky and North Carolina in the long and spirited recruiting fight for Wiggins.
What does it mean for the Seminoles? It’s not necessarily the end of the world.
Coach Leonard Hamilton still collected some nice talent this recruiting cycle, with top-20 center Jarquez Smith and heralded shooting guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes already bound for Tallahassee. Rathan-Mayes was Wiggins’ teammate at Huntington (W. Va.) Prep and received far less attention than he’d normally get because of Wiggins’ shadow.
Hamilton also returns four starters from last season’s squad: post players Kiel Turpin and Okaro White and guards Devon Bookert and Aaron Thomas. Freshman forward Montay Brandon will be back, too.
But that group looks a lot like a fringe NCAA tournament team, one built to win 20 games but not much more. Wiggins, who averaged 23.4 and 11.2 rebounds per game last season, would’ve made the Seminoles a major threat for a Final Four run.
Wiggins joins a Kansas team that lost a lot of talent after a Sweet 16 run in March but has reloaded with a fantastic recruiting class that includes McDonald’s All-American Wayne Selden, a 6-5 forward.
Wiggins will play one college game in the state: Kansas plays at Florida on Dec. 10 in Gainesville.