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The recruitment of Andrew Wiggins was defined by his silence. As a decision-maker he described himself as "independent"—determined to make up his own mind, with no need for constant interaction with reporters or even recruiters.
"I wouldn't really talk to college coaches," he says.
Even the ones on your short list?
"Not any of them. I wanted to enjoy my last high school memories."
Thus his story played out according to the social-media age equation of high-traffic topic + silent subject = much misinformation. Around the time Wiggins reclassified from a junior to a senior, in October 2012, it was widely assumed that he was going to either Florida State or Kentucky. The truth? "I was wide open," Wiggins says, "but no one else was recruiting me."
The No. 1 prospect in the world, with seven months left before his decision day, had to ask his Huntington Prep coach, Rob Fulford, to inform teams that he was open to being pursued—provided they were open to a one-sided relationship.
Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend happened to be in Huntington on the day Wiggins officially reclassified and told him that the Jayhawks—who were likely to lose most of their lineup, including star freshman scorer Ben McLemore—wanted in on the hunt. Wiggins said he didn't know much about Kansas but would consider visiting. Townsend had to cling to this small indication of interest. Reticence, like athleticism, runs in the Wiggins family: In a 1984 interview that discussed Mitchell's falling out at Clemson, his first college stop, he said, "Part of the problem I had was that I was so quiet, you couldn't get a whisper out of me, and I was so shy, I couldn't even look [coach] Bill Foster in the eye when he was talking to me." And in a recent Toronto Sun story about Marita, a former teammate said that despite being a fierce competitor, "she was very quiet, still is very quiet and very unassuming." Marita did not respond to interview requests for that piece or this one.
The Wigginses told KU coaches that cellphone messages would get listened to, but that didn't ease their nerves. Self left Andrew one voicemail that said, "Hey, big fella, I know you don't want to deal with this, but it's getting down to crunch time, and if we're in the game at all, throw me a bone. If we're not in the game, just tell me."
They were in the game enough to earn Wiggins's fourth and final campus visit, after Florida State (which shrewdly secured the first one, in December, by honoring Mitchell's and Marita's careers in a halftime video presentation), Kentucky and North Carolina. The Jayhawks hosted Wiggins on March 4, arranging for Marita to meet famed track coach Stanley Redwine, selling the school's own hoops history, and arguing that they had the best personnel and system to showcase Wiggins.
The Wigginses sat behind KU's bench for a 79--42 blowout of Texas Tech, and it was no coincidence that the game plan was heavy on ball screens and lobs, with point guard Elijah Johnson throwing six alley-oops in the first half. Says Self, "We did the things that gave us the best chance to win and were along the lines of what the family would like to see."