I'm not exactly sure when it turned into the wildest recruiting announcement Twitter has ever seen. But there's no denying the hour leading up to Andrew Wiggins' public proclamation that he'll attend Kansas this year was a lesson on the impact social media can have in elevating a story.
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Don't believe me?
Just ask Grant Traylor.
He's a writer from the Herald-Dispatch in West Virginia.
He was the only reporter allowed to attend Wiggins' announcement.
"Congrats Twitter ... you all broke my phone minutes after his signing," Traylor tweeted about 30 minutes after the announcement. "Twitter app is done. LOL."
Traylor had 1,962 followers on Twitter two days ago. Then it was learned that he'd be the first reporter to know Wiggins' college destination, at which point his follower account ballooned to 17,800, and each 140-character burst of information was treated as breaking news. Literally everything Traylor tweeted was retweeted hundreds, if not thousands, of times. My favorite was a picture Traylor posted of Wiggins and his mother walking into the gym at Huntington Prep that featured Jesus Christ himself photobombing because, honestly, why wouldn't JC make an unscheduled appearance?
It was that kind of day.
This recruitment that started as a battle between Florida State (because of his parents' connection to the school) and Kentucky (because it's Kentucky) ultimately swung to Allen Fieldhouse, the latest example of Bill Self out-maneuvering his old boss Leonard Hamilton. Within minutes of the announcement, countless fans who don't spend their days pulling for KU attacked. They tweeted at Wiggins to express their disappointment by telling him they hope he does everything from "tear his ACL" to "die in a plane crash." Some also wanted him to "burn in hell" because, in their opinions, he's a "bitch" who is "fu--ing retarded" and a "piece of sh-t" who should have his "neck snapped."
Andrew Wiggins is just 18 years old, by the way.
He is, by all accounts, a nice and respectful young man.
And yet this is how he spent Tuesday -- being told that he should die in various ways.
I could use the next few hundred words explaining why this is ridiculous, sad and embarrassing to college sports fans, if not the human race in general. But what's the point? Idiots are idiots. If it were possible to eliminate them from the conversation, we would've done it by now. So I guess my advice to Wiggins would be to get used to it. Because though he did his best to downplay this announcement -- no TV, no national audience, just family and friends and one reporter from a local newspaper -- his stature in this sport combined with the buildup to his unusually late announcement made all of this unavoidable, and things will only intensify from here.
Yes, Wiggins is the nation's top prospect.
Everybody knows as much.
But it should be noted he's much more than that.
Every high school class has a No. 1 player by definition. But in the same way that all national champions aren't considered equals, all top prospects shouldn't be considered equals either. Point being, Wiggins is a special kind of athlete and talent. It's not unreasonable to call him the best prospect since LeBron James. He'll be our preseason National Player of the Year. He'll be the No. 1 pick in next June's NBA Draft. Between now and then, he'll be the biggest star in college basketball based on what he does and what people think he'll probably do years from now. Wiggins' mere presence will make KU the Big 12 favorite (again) and a legitimate contender to bring Self a second national title.
"A pleasant surprise," Self said. "We never had an idea which way he was [leaning]."
Neither did most.
That's why Grant Traylor gained nearly 16,000 Twitter followers in two days, why the sports world seemed to stop around noon on Tuesday and why thousands and thousands of fans found themselves heartbroken a little after noon, or at least as heartbroken as folks can get when an 18-year-old stranger picks a university for which they do not root. Is it silly? Yeah, on some level, it's all pretty silly. But it's also a reality in the year 2013, and it sure did make for a fascinating Tuesday.