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Kansas NCAA college freshman basketball player Andrew Wiggins, middle, speaks between coach Bill Self, left, and his mother Marita Payne-Wiggins, right, during a news conference at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan., Monday, March 31, 2014. Wiggins announced he would be entering the NBA draft. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Jayhawks’ Wiggins off to NBA after freshman season
First Published Mar 31 2014 03:31 pm • Last Updated Mar 31 2014 11:26 pm

Lawrence, Kan. • Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins made official Monday what he’s been telling folks all along: He’s headed to the NBA after his only season with the Jayhawks.

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The 6-foot-8 forward, who was voted second-team All-America earlier in the day, is expected to go in the top three picks in the June draft. Many believe he could go first overall.

"It wasn’t an easy decision because the fans showed me so much love here," said Wiggins, choking up briefly during a news conference at Allen Fieldhouse. "I just wish I had more time. College goes by so fast. I can see why people stay all four years."

Wiggins was the top-rated recruit when he arrived at Kansas, and his brief career was a bit of a roller coaster. He struggled early in the season, caught fire midway through, and then flamed out when it mattered most in an NCAA tournament loss to Stanford.

Wiggins only scored four points on 1-for-6 shooting in the third-round defeat. Afterward, he said despondently that he let his team down with his poor performance.


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That ultimately didn’t have any bearing on his decision, though. He announced he was going pro while joined by Kansas coach Bill Self, his parents — former NBA player Mitchell Wiggins and Olympic silver medalist Marita Payne Wiggins — his older brother Mitchell Jr., and several of his teammates, including fellow freshmen Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid.

Selden has already announced he’s returning for his sophomore season. Embiid has not made a decision, even though he’s also expected to be a top-five pick in the draft.

Wiggins certainly had a historic season at Kansas. The Canadian averaged a freshman-record 17.1 points and nearly six rebounds per game, and was voted the AP’s Big 12 freshman of the year and first-team all-conference.

"Obviously this announcement needed to happen," said Self, who believes one of the biggest challenges Wiggins will face is realizing that basketball will suddenly become his job.

"It’s not like this year. He came in with so much hype, and whether he knew it or not, everybody was salivating for a chance to go against a guy with that much hype," Self said. "And he’s going to the next level with a lot of hype, but men are going to be saying, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, rook. I’ve been doing this a long time and you’re going to have to earn your way.’"

Wiggins simply flashed a smile when asked if he was ready for it.

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