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March 31, 2014

Wiggins ready to fulfill NBA dream

On Monday afternoon, Andrew Wiggins announced his future plans by declaring for the upcoming NBA draft. Jayhawk Slant is here to provide you with a complete recap.

BILL SELF: Well, good afternoon. We appreciate everybody coming out today for basically Andrew Wiggins Day. Obviously this announcement needed to happen, and everyone knew it would happen following the completion of our season one way or another, and so I know we're all sitting and pins and needles to listen to what Andrew has to say, but certainly a proud day.

ANDREW WIGGINS: First I'd like to give glory to God for putting me in this opportunity. I just thank my family and my coaches and my teammates for being here and all you guys that have been supporting me. I'll just say that me and my family and my coaches and my teammates have talked about entering the draft and staying, and at the end of the day I decided I'm going to enter the draft. It wasn't an easy decision because the fans show me so much love here, and my teammates, it's just fun being around them and the coaches, and it's fun playing in the Allen Fieldhouse.

I wish I just had more time. College goes by so fast. I can see why people stay all four years. I just want to thank everyone for being here and thank you for supporting my decision.

BILL SELF: I'm shocked. I thought he was announcing he's coming back. But certainly this is a happy day. I think when student athletes pick a school and go to college, they go for the reasons to have the best chance to have the best life, whenever their completion is up, timing school, and certainly the time is right for Andrew. Opportunity is certainly knocking on the door.

He had an unbelievable freshman year for us. By a distant margin, he's the all time leading freshman scorer in the history of the school, consensus Second Team All American, First Team All League, put us on his back many times throughout the course of our season, and certainly one of the bright things about his stay here was that he was so coachable and a great teammate and everybody wanted to see him do well. We're very proud of him, very excited for his future, and certainly as good as he's been for us, we know he's only scratching the surface of who he'll do moving forward. I think this is a great decision and one that we support 100 percent.

Andrew, how do you want to be remembered at KU?

ANDREW WIGGINS: Just someone that plays hard every game, to be remembered as somebody that gave it their all, a happy person, always positive vibes, just a good player.

Can you talk about why you feel you're ready to enter the draft and go to the NBA?

ANDREW WIGGINS: I'm just confident that I'm ready, and it's always been a big dream of mine to follow in my father's footsteps and play in the highest level of basketball.

Is there anything that you think that you'll be working on or you know that you'll be working on in particular in this off season, in the summer, to prepare yourself for the next level?

ANDREW WIGGINS: Yeah, no one's game is perfect. I have a lot of things to work on, with strength, ball handling, shooting, just trying to perfect everything for the next season.

How important is it to be No.1 pick to you?

ANDREW WIGGINS: It's always been a big dream of mine, but I'm just happy that God put me in an opportunity where I can be amongst the best players in the world.

You obviously had stuff to focus on throughout the year, but did you think about this decision throughout the season or did you just wait for after and worry about it then?

ANDREW WIGGINS: I just waited until after. I had my goal set, what me and the team wanted to accomplish this year, the Big 12 championship, win a national championship, everything like that. So we had bigger goals.

You talked about how sad it was your last game after the tournament. Do you think this place ended up meaning more to you than you thought it would when you originally signed on?

ANDREW WIGGINS: I always knew whatever college I signed to, it would mean a lot to me, and just how they brought me in here and showed so much love. I love it even more than I did when I first got here obviously because I spent so much time with the team, played games in the fieldhouse, and just was a normal student on campus.

How much did you improve as a player this past year to get ready for the NBA?

ANDREW WIGGINS: I think I improved a lot. There was never really a non competitive practice we had. Every practice every player goes at each other, learning a lot, making each other better, and when you have a legendary coach like Coach Self, you get better every day learning new things.

Can you take us through the decision process? Did you talk to your mom? Did you talk to your dad, your brothers, Coach Self, and what was the consensus? What were some of the drawbacks, what were the obvious assets or good things about being a player?

ANDREW WIGGINS: I talked about it with a lot of people, my team, obviously my family and my coaches. We just talked about what would be best for me, best for the family, and then we came down to the decision.

What would it mean to play in Canada? Do you have any favorite team you want to play for?

ANDREW WIGGINS: It would be really good to play in Canada, play in front of my home crowd every game, so it would be nothing but love there. What was the other question?

Any favorite teams besides Toronto?

ANDREW WIGGINS: No favorite team, really. I'll play with whoever wants me. I have no preference.

Is there an inner drive to want to be drafted No.1?

ANDREW WIGGINS: There is. That's just the competitive side. You want to be chosen first. You want people to label you as the best player. That's more the competitive side.

Could the parents comment on Andrew's year here?

MITCHELL WIGGINS: We're happy with his choice. It was his choice, and Coach Self made it easy. He was coming with some great teammates, and he's very excited. What he wanted was, at the end of the year, to have a parade, and so he's disappointed about the way it finished, but it's a great choice. I think if he had to do it again, he'd make the same choice. So we're very happy, and he's happy.

MARITA PAYNE WIGGINS: Well, for Andrew's progression, the best thing is that he's not injured and he's able to right now go ahead and complete part of his goals because there's many other goals that he has to complete and to go after. Every day is a new day. He has no injuries, and he's ready to go.

Andrew, do you have plans to come back eventually and finish your degree?

ANDREW WIGGINS: Yeah, I plan to over the course of my years.

What are your immediate plans as far as working out?

ANDREW WIGGINS: Just getting really situated, trying to find an agent and everything that I would like to work with and just figuring out where I'm going to work out. I'll be back here a lot, too, to work out with the team.

Are there any current or former NBA players who have reached out to you or you've reached out to to kind of prepare you for that process leading up to the draft?

ANDREW WIGGINS: No, just really my teammates, my family and my coaches right now.

How proud of your brother are you?

MITCH WIGGINS: Very proud. You know, when he came here I knew he was going to make a big impact, and just seeing how happy he is, I'm just so humbled by that.

Is it hard to believe that this is the same kid you used to maybe beat up on in the driveway playing ball?

MITCH WIGGINS: Yeah, when I left for college the first time, just seeing him grow, every time I come back he'd always get taller and taller and taller, and I was like, man, and his game got so much better. Yeah, it's really been a blessing watching him grow up.

Did you know he'd be an NBA player for a long time now?

MITCH WIGGINS: We knew there was something special about him from the minute he was born, just seeing him go out in the world and just grow and develop, yeah. One day he had to become the best player in the family. That's his goal, so we'll see.

Coach, what makes you believe that Andrew is ready for the next level, as well?

BILL SELF: Well, I think that the improvement he made this year with his approach and mindset was a great, great improvement. I think that if you look at his statistics and everything and you look in the games in which we labored for the most part or games which were narrow victories, he always seemed to produce more. He's one of those guys that if the team didn't have to have him do it, he a lot of times deferred to let others do it. But at game point, usually he was right there.

I think that his talent is unbelievable. I think he's just scratching the surface. His athletic ability, even though there's other great athletes out there, I don't think there's many that can do the things physically that he can do. But I do think he's still some time away. He's young. He just turned 19, and he could very easily be a high school senior right now. But I think his ceiling is the highest that I've been around.

I think that he's going to have a remarkable future, but I do think it's going to take a lot of hard work, like he alluded to, and he's got to get serious because this is no longer fun. It's fun but it's also his profession; it's his trade; it's his job. I think with all the time he'll spend in the gym, I think he's going to improve so much rapidly.

Will Andrew have to gain weight to play at his optimum at the next level? And with that being said, is it better for him to do that, to mature physically in the NBA or another year in college?

BILL SELF: Well, I think it's hypothetical. There's really no reason to talk about what's better because the decision has been made. But if he was my son, I would tell him that he's made the right decision. It's time. Now, with that being said, there's also that it's time now when you go from being a youngster to being a man and competing against a man, so your approach has to change and be like a man's. But as far as weight, I've never been one to get hung up on weight.
I've always been hung up on strength, and my personal opinion is there's a natural maturation process that takes place with everybody physically, and he's going to get bigger, and he'll do it naturally and he'll do it through weights. Looking at him now, you would almost think for a wing, is there really a better basketball body because you know he's going to fill out, and some of the greatest ever had the exact same frame or similar frame that he has at the same age, and look at how they've matured physically, so he'll do the same.

Andrew, are you excited about that challenge of approaching it as a man, I guess?

ANDREW WIGGINS: I'm excited. I've been waiting for this day my whole life, so I'm looking forward to it.

Andrew, besides just playing, what are some of your goals at the next level?

ANDREW WIGGINS: I've got a lot, just obviously from playing, just giving my family and my close friends better lives, giving back to the community where I came up, and just try and make people better.

Coach, can you talk about some of the positive effects of having Andrew here for this season, what he's done for the program?

BILL SELF: Well, obviously, although it didn't end the way we all had hoped it would, we won another league championship, and that would have been very difficult to do without Andrew's presence, and of course he impacted our performance on the court in a big way. But the positive impact is sometimes I think when you're here a short period of time, not everybody gets a chance to know him the way that we all know him, and he's a what you see is what you get. He's a humble, unselfish, team first guy.

I think that he's been an unbelievable ambassador for our program and will continue to be a great ambassador for the years moving forward. He really has been a blessing to coach, and I think all our coaches would say that, and certainly all the teammates would say he's been great in the locker room. But he's impacted us in a big way, and I do think when you recruit a player of his caliber that comes in with his much hype as he's had and handled everything as well and beautifully as he has, considering all the type, I think it certainly should bode well for us in him helping us recruit others, as well.

Andrew, speaking of that hype, there was a ton for you before you coming to college. Do you think that experience will help you deal with the hype that's now going to happen going to the pros?

ANDREW WIGGINS: Yeah, I think it will help me a lot in the future just because it shows me how to deal with the pressure, how to stay level headed, and just know that you always have to believe in God because you'd rather be known than not known in my opinion.

Do you think it's tough for a 19 year old? You've played in the league. The league is getting younger and younger. Are there a lot of challenges for the young kids?

MITCHELL WIGGINS: I mean, the biggest challenge is to know who you are and be confident in your abilities and what you're about. So he's very grounded. I'm just listening to him now, and I'm just thinking about when he was that little bitty kid that was dirty and not listening, and then now he's a young man that I think he gets it. I think he's going to do great.

Coach, what maybe is the biggest challenge for a kid at 19 going to the NBA? When you said it's now a job, what's one of the biggest adjustments they're faced with?

BILL SELF: Well, to echo what Mitch says, he gets it. I think he gets the moment. I think he gets the situation. I think he gets the magnitude. I think there's a lot of things that he gets that puts him beyond his years from a maturity standpoint in that regard. But the biggest thing, I think, he's going to have to understand, it's a lot like this year; he came in with so much hype that whether he knew it or not, everybody was salivating for the opportunity to get a chance to go against a guy with that much hype.

That's the way it is. He's going to go to the next level with a lot of hype, and there's going to be a lot of men that say, whoa, now, Rook, hey, I've been doing this for a long time, and you're going to have to earn your way, which I think is exactly what anybody would need at a young age to help mature and grow up. I don't think there's anything that he's going to face that's anything he can't handle, but I do think he has to be prepared and that preparation begins physically but also begins emotionally and mentally right now because he's got to understand that, that it's fun and games, it's fun, and press conferences and announcements are good, but when this is over, it's time to get to work.

Andrew, have you watched the tournament this weekend or is it tough to watch the way that things ended quicker than you and KU wanted?

ANDREW WIGGINS: It's tough to watch. Me and the team, we've worked so hard to get to that point. We still think that we should be in the tournament and everything. So it's tough, but I don't really watch too many games. I'd rather hear about it than watch it.

You could you have played your college basketball anywhere. In hindsight how glad are you that you chose to come here to Kansas?

ANDREW WIGGINS: I'm grateful that I chose this school. They've shown me nothing but love. My teammates are like my brothers now. The coaches let me play my game. They did nothing but show me love, too, and made me feel comfortable, and the fans were crazy. If I could do it all over again, I would.

BILL SELF: You can. (Laughter.)

MARITA PAYNE WIGGINS: For three more years.

BILL SELF: You haven't signed anything yet, have you? (Laughter.)

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