We have finally reached the end of our GTA watch list that we started almost a month ago, and after profiling Nik Stauskas, Tyler Ennis, Cory Joseph, and Anthony Bennett, we have finally reached number one!
To be honest, the top of this list is a little anti-climatic as to who it is, but that’s only because this player will be just that fascinating to watch as he progresses forward with his NBA career.
He’s had the entire basketball world watch his every move since he was 16, and has yet to disappoint on every level he’s played at so far. Ladies and gentlemen, our top GTA born player to watch this year is none other than Vaughn’s very own Andrew Wiggins.
Nov 1, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins (22) looks on during the first quarter against the Chicago Bulls at Target Center. The Bulls defeated the Timberwolves 106-105. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
1. Andrew Wiggins
GTA High School: Vaughan Secondary School
Drafted: 2014, 1st overall, Cleveland Cavaliers
What can be said about Andrew Wiggins that hasn’t been said?
The super athletic 6-8 wingman will not just have all of Canada watching his every move this season, but the entire NBA as well.
Such is the attention you get when you are the most hyped up rookie since LeBron James.
Now that he is finally in the NBA after what seemed like an eternity in high school and college, we will finally get a glimpse this year of what Wiggins might become.
The 19-year-old rookie hails from Vaughan, one of the last places you might expect a basketball phenom to come from in this city. This city on the northern border of Toronto is normally best known for Canada’s Wonderland and being home to a few NHL players.
But when it come to basketball, it’s wasn’t hard to perceive Vaughan not too long ago as North York and Rexdale’s annoying little brother. Most teams from the city were more likely to trot out tall, lengthy, chalk faced sharpshooters on the court, rather than lightning quick guards and freakishly athletic big men.
Oh how the times have changed, and much like the rest of Toronto’s suburbs such as Brampton and Mississauga, Vaughan is seemingly closing the gap between themselves and the mega city as each year passes.
Andrew Wiggins is a quantum leap to that, despite the fact that he would of been a star no matter here he came from, the fact that kids growing up in Vaughan see him doing what he’s doing will only make them believe “why not us”.
After spending his first two years of high school at Vaughan Secondary School and CIA Bounce, it became clear that Wiggins would not be sticking around for high school graduation in Canada.
He would spend another two years at Huntington Prep in West Virginia wrecking backboards and racking up every possible award a high school basketball player could get.
Wiggins would then head to Kansas for an inevitable “one-and-done” college season with the Jayhawks. Despite some pedestrian numbers to start the season, he would eventually show America just why he had gotten such a hype machine behind him.
Wiggins averaged 17.1 PPG and 5.9 RPG in his only year in college, and dropped 41 points on West Virginia back on March 8 of this year.
It was the most points a freshman has scored in the Big 12 Conference since Michael Beasley scored 44 against Baylor back in 2008.
March 8, 2014; Morgantown, WV, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Andrew Wiggins (22) drives to the basket against the West Virginia Mountaineers at WVU Coliseum. West Virginia wins 92-86.Mandatory Credit: Dan Friend-USA TODAY Sports
After a shocking 2nd round upset loss to 10th ranked Stanford during the NCAA tournament, it was time for Andrew Wiggins to move on from his days in school and finally join the pro ranks of the NBA. All at the tender age of 19.
It was at this point where things have gotten a little twisted for Wiggins.
After (predictably) being selected 1st overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers this past draft, he was traded alongside current teammate and 2013 number one pick, Anthony Bennett to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The move was made to make room for three-time all-star forward Kevin Love, and some guy who also plays the 2/3 position named LeBron James.
In one instant, Wiggins was taken from a possible tutelage of a lifetime under one of the greatest players ever while on a championship contender, to being forced to figure it out for himself in a market that was still bitter over the departure of Love, and desperate for a winner after a decade of mediocrity.
Despite these turn of events, there are few better places for a 1st overall pick to mature mentally and grow his game than a small market team like Minnesota. The fans there are smart and know that both Wiggins and Bennett are going to need some time to learn the ways of the league.
But just how long they are willing to wait after this season will be the real question.
So what about right now for this young canuck?
Well for starters, Wiggins will be due for quite a few highlight reel plays by the end of this year. He is an above average defender and despite rookie mistakes (such as his late foul on bulls guard Jimmy Butler Saturday night that cost the Timberwolves the game), you would be hard pressed to find a coach in the NBA who would rather take a guy that tries too hard defensively, than not enough.
Nov 1, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins (22) fouls Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) during the fourth quarter at Target Center. The Bulls defeated the Timberwolves 106-105. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
We all know Wiggins is freakishly athletic and can score in the paint, he’s only going to get better at that. What we will really be looking for in his progression the next few years will be if he can stretch the floor with his 3 point shot. He shot just over 37% from the field in college, an impressive feat for any player.
If he can continue to even just maintain that percentage throughout his career, the only person who may be able to stop Andrew Wiggins from scoring will be Andrew Wiggins (or maybe the ghost of Gary Payton).
Oct 19, 2014; Tulsa, OK, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins (22) handles the ball against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter at BOK Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Either way, Andrew Wiggins will be a consistent headliner this year all around the NBA no matter what he does or doesn’t do.