We all know that Kansas has instantaneously become a national title contender now that Andrew Wiggins has made it official and committed to become a Jayhawk. But what about the three schools that finished as runners-up in Wiggins Sweepstakes? What’s the outlook for them in 2013-2014?
Kentucky: The Wildcats are going to be just fine. They were the preseason No. 1 team in the country before Andrew Wiggins committed, and they’ll be the preseason No. 1 team in the country now that he’s officially headed elsewhere.
In fact, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that Kentucky missed out on Wiggins.
Look, whether or not Kentucky has Wiggins in the mix, John Calipari is going to have an embarrassment of talent at his disposal. Their second five would be an NCAA tournament team. As good as Wiggins is, bringing him in just means fewer minutes and fewer shots for everyone else on a roster that is already going to have issues with not enough minutes and not enough shots to go around. Coach Cal’s biggest challenge next season is going to be massaging egos, divvying up minutes and keeping everyone on his roster happy.
His biggest challenge won’t be game-planning; it will be maintaining chemistry in the locker room and on the court. And while Wiggins isn’t exactly what you would call a locker room cancer, his presence could have made the cancer metastasize in other members of the Kentucky team.
Regardless, it’s a moot point now, and I, for one, am excited. I think it’s eminently more exciting to think about Wiggins playing against this Kentucky team than playing with this Kentucky team.
Florida State: Without a doubt, Florida State will be the most disappointed team to miss out on this year’s most highly-regarded recruit. Why? Because Leonard Hamilton is coming off of a season where he went 18-16, lost in the first round of the NIT, and saw his star player — who was responsible for four game-winning shots last season alone — complete his eligibility. The Seminoles have some solid pieces on their roster (freshmen Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Jarquez Smith, returnees Devin Bookert, Okaro White and Ian Miller), but there is no star. There’s no go-to guy. Wiggins could have filled that role.
If Hamilton had pulled of the miracle and brought in Wiggins, than the Seminoles likely would have been an NCAA tournament and had a chance to finish in the top four in the ACC. But without him, Florida State is looking an awful lot like they are going to be headed to their second straight NIT. Frankly, that’s not necessarily a guarantee, either.
North Carolina: Of the four teams that made it to the final day of Wiggins’ recruitment, few people believed that the Tar Heels really had any of actually landing the Canadian native. And it turns out that those doubts were correct, as Wiggins won’t be playing for Roy Williams next season, which is a shame, as he would have fit in really well sliding into that undersized-four role left vacant by NBA-bound Reggie Bullock.
Having said that, North Carolina is going to be just fine next season. They bring back PJ Hairston, James Michael McAdoo and Marcus Paige while adding yet another loaded recruiting class. There will be some growing pains, as Williams learns whether he has to play small-ball again next season or if any of his big men will develop into the kind of low-post presence that his system requires. But once the Tar Heels figure it all out, they will have enough talent to be in and around the top ten for much of the season and may even give Syracuse and Duke a run for their money atop the ACC standings.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.