He's not even played one game yet and we've already put Andrew Wiggins in plenty of boxes and tailored him to dozens of stories. As a public, this is what we do now. We rush to shout a theme, to be the first to shine light on an angle before the crowd comes to echo the sentiment. Before playing one nanosecond of regular-season action, a sampling of the story of Andrew Wiggins so far:
He's shy. He's humble. He's amazing. He's -- oh, gosh! -- Canadian. He's the best prospect since LeBron James. Wait, IS HE THE NEXT LEBRON JAMES? He's not the best Kansas player, and Bill Self is being tough on him. But he's already the best player in the country. Unless he's not. Unless he's just overrated, because that's what he is, because that's what he has to be right now.
Wiggins' panoply of impressive skills and the unprecedented amount of pub enveloping him gives college basketball a mainstream storyline as it heads into it season, which (finally) begins today. It's been a long time since one player was this much of a big deal in November in college hoops. He is a national sports story, not just a big one in the sport. And Wiggins is a freshman, to boot. How fitting this is for modern college basketball, you might be saying.
So of all things I can't wait to see this year in our fabulous game -- and if you allowed me to tick off everything, we'd be here through Saturday afternoon -- the chronicle of Andrew Wiggins' one and only college season is what intrigues me most. There are so many ways this story can go. Good and bad. Groan-worthy, too, I'm sure. We'll get there. We always do. Stories grow, curl and crash like waves -- and pound again and again. For national pundits, there is no easier target to pontificate on than Wiggins at this point -- except maybe Kentucky. OK, always Kentucky.
We're now part of a media generation that reflexively and loudly and repeatedly reacts to stories in sports. Dig up or discover a topic, hammer home the narrative, repeat until the particles turn to dust, and move on. This can happen dozens of times with the same person or team. I get the feeling we'll have about 30 different kinds of Andrew Wiggins yarns to pull from over the next five months. Plenty will be good. Many will be tough to sell or tell because Wiggins is trying to overcome his innate introverted nature. (You'll read or see a few stories on that very angle as well. How meta!)
I can already see the inevitable forming in the distance as well. Wiggins plays three games in a row where he averages 10 points and five rebounds. He's not doing in the Big 12 what Kevin Durant did as a freshman. By the way, that inescapable -- and off-target -- comparison to KD will pepper the conversation on Wiggins many times over this year. And so we'll run to a point (think: Jadeveon Clowney) where the "wow" factor isn't showing. Other teammates are doing more. Maybe Kansas loses a game in that stretch. And suddenly the questions pop out of the soil, one after the other.
Everybody, let's not build up Andrew Wiggins only to tear him down -- then build him up, and tear him down again. And repeat the process a half-dozen times by March.
Let's enjoy Wiggins for what he'll be: a rare talent, the kind college basketball doesn't get as often now as it did 30 years ago. Let's watch a great high school player attempt to become just that at the college level. And let's allow college basketball to define Andrew Wiggins, instead of the other way around.