By Adam Biggers
The North Carolina Tar Heels’ somewhat surprising 1-2 start in ACC play gives their followers enough cause to be guarded this season, hoping for the best possible outcome while trying to remain grounded and clearheaded.
But that’s this season.
Although they’re outside the AP Top 25 and clinging to an 11-5 overall record, the Heels will be in proper shape sooner than later—you know, national championship-contending shape, like they’re supposed to be.
Roy Williams and North Carolina have the personnel—some in training, at the moment—to compete on a national stage. And if Williams pulls out a win in the Andrew Wiggins Sweepstakes, the Heels stand to be a front-runner for—at the very least—a Final Four appearance in 2014.
Wiggins isn’t just the consensus No. 1 high schooler of the 2014 crop. No, he’s the top-ranked amateur prospect in the world.
Yes, he’s No. 1 in the world, and he’s NBA-ready.
Saying he’ll be one-and-done doesn’t need to be said. Barring extreme circumstances, Wiggins won’t need more than a single season in college in order to be selected in the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery.
At 6’8″ and 205 pounds, Wiggins’ length and effective scoring technique all but guarantee that he’ll be a monster in the NCAA ranks. According to NBA Draft Express, the prep senior has a 6’11” wingspan, but that measurement was taken in the spring of 2012.
NBA Draft Express lists Wiggins at 6’7″, but he’s grown an inch since, according to Verbal Commits. In light of his physical maturation, his wingspan could have increased closer to 7’0″.
Here’s Draft Express’ scouting report on the Huntington Prep (W. Va.) sensation:
While not yet a dynamic ball-handler in the half-court, Wiggins is a very effective shot-creator thanks to his terrific quickness and scoring instincts. He uses crafty jukes and hesitation moves to get his man off balance and then blow by him, where he can finish above the rim in highlight reel fashion. He’s primarily a right-handed driver at this stage, still needing to improve his overall ball-handling skills and ability to play at different speeds, which is normal considering his age. With his size, strength and budding talent, he looks to have outstanding potential in this area, particularly operating in transition.
What Wiggins Could Do With Existing Heels Standouts
North Carolina’s backcourt is a work in progress, but it looks like freshman Marcus Paige could be Roy Williams’ go-to option as soon as next year. He hasn’t lit the world on fire this season, averaging just over seven points per game, but Paige’s affinity for putting the ball in the basket will surely lead to double-digit scoring nights soon enough.
He’s already shown that he’s a threat through the opening months of the year, piecing together five 10-plus-point showings as a wet-behind-the-ear frosh.
Imagine Wiggins paired with a point guard like Paige, a youngster that can score in addition to fulfilling primary duties as a facilitator—the offensive possibilities would almost be endless.
An athletic 3-man like Wiggins combined with Brice Johnson would also open up the floor. Johnson—as good players should do—presents matchup challenges for those guarding him.
Brace for Johnson in the post, or watch for the kick-out to Wiggins who, more than likely, would make good an attempt, contested or not.
Sophomore James Michael McAdoo could make the leap to the NBA after this season. However, if he stays at North Carolina, he’d be a part of a three-cog unit that would rival any group of forwards in the country.
He leads the Heels with 14.4 points per game and is an outstanding rebounder. Easy buckets would be the norm with McAdoo running the floor with Wiggins, an exceptional threat in transition.
Wiggins’ defense has been celebrated; his scoring touch has been adored by prep basketball followers and purists. Whether or not he picks North Carolina—he has interest from top-tier teams like Kentucky and Duke, too—won’t be officially known until National Signing Day.
But the allure of playing with a young group that stacks up well against the rest of the ACC could be enough for Wiggins to commit to Williams and the Heels.