Andrew Wiggins has been called the best player to come out of high school since LeBron James. While James has not talked to Wiggins, the Miami Heat superstar forward has some sage advice for the KU freshman phenom.
"Just try to be the best student and the best teammate and the best player you can be every day," James told a few reporters before his Heat played the Charlotte Bobcats in an exhibition game Friday night at Sprint Center in Kansas City.
"Don't try to prove anything to no one. Obviously, his future is bright, but you can't live today and worry about the future. You got to live in the present. The only thing he should concentrate on is being a great student and being a great basketball player for his team and everything else will take care of itself."
That's what KU coach Bill Self is counting on. Self is thrilled to have Wiggins on his team, yet cautions he's not a star just yet, despite his many preseason accolades. Wiggins has been named CBSSports.com Preseason Player of the Year, the Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year, and a member of the 2013-14 Preseason All-Big 12 Team – a first in conference history that a freshman has appeared on the list. The 6-8 guard also graced the cover of Sports Illustrated's Oct. 14th issue and was called a "once-in-a-generation" talent by Sports Illustrated.
"He's very talented and has a ton of potential, but he's just a freshman," Self said at KU Media Day in late September. "He's going to find his way like everybody else. The expectation that have been put on him by outside factors or media members comparing him to this person or that person are really not fair at all. He has a chance to become a great player. I would not say he's a great player yet; he's a great prospect. Hopefully he will develop in a way where he can become a great player quickly."
Self stressed Wiggins needs to play with maximum effort consistently.
"I thing with Andrew is, he showed flashed of dominance (in high school) but he didn't do it on a consistent basis," Self said. "He's a guy that relies on athletic ability and turning it on when it needs to be turned on. But when you get to this level and even at a very high level of high quality ball you have a lot of guys who play that way and you will never get it turned on. And so he has to become a consistent guy that tries to impact every possession in whatever way shape or form he can.
"He could be our best defender, he could be our best shot blocker, he could be our best lane runner, he could be our best offensive rebounder, he can be a lot of things. But if he doesn't do it every possession, he won't be any of those things. He's got to learn to compete in order to win every possession in the game."
Self rates Wiggins and the other young players' coachability as a "10." Wiggins knows he can improve.
"I need to work on off-ball defending," he said. "I'm working on my shooting and ball-handling because nothing is perfect. It's just all (in getting) repetition."
KU sophomore forward Perry Ellis loves Wiggins' work ethic and attitude.
"He knows there's going to be a lot of attention, but he's working hard," Ellis said. "A humble kid. I think he's going to be fine as long as he keeps working."
Wiggins is just having fun now bonding with the team and not thinking about his rising fame.
"(I'm) close with all of them," Wiggins said. "When I took my visit everyone rolled like a unit, even now there are no favorites on the team. Everybody talks to everybody."