Andrew Wiggins struggled to live up to the incredible hype early in the year, something expected for an 18-year-old kid under such immense pressure. We’ve seen glimpses of his capablities—the 26 points and 11 rebounds at Florida immediately comes to mind, but inconsistency was the overwhelming occurrence. However, with March Madness approaching, Wiggins seems to have hit his stride and peaking at just the right time.
On stage Thursday at the Sprint Center, dropping 30 points in a 77-70 win in overtime over Oklahoma State and his biggest “preseason” critic, Marcus Smart. Five months ago, Marcus Smart said Wiggins needed to prove himself; tired of hearing about the hype.
“If that’s what I said, you can take it anyway you want to take it,… “A lot of people are saying he’s the best player in college basketball. I’m saying how can you be the best player if it’s something you haven’t even played in? …”Kansas is always a great team, have a great coaching staff with Coach Self,” … “He puts his players in the right positions to win games and that’s why they’ve won nine straight. But, like I said, we also have our starting five back, so we’re pretty good too. We’re not going to back down from any challenge.”
It’s still too early to judge Wiggins only one game deep into the Big 12 tournament; however for players like Marcus Smart; it was time to give Wiggins due credit.
“Like I said, you’ve got to earn my respect,” Smart said. “You’ve got to go and take it, and he earned it tonight…”He led his team to a Big 12 championship and came here as a freshman and did what he was supposed to do,” Smart said. “He didn’t get the Player of the Year, but he still is one of the biggest attributes in the Big 12. He’s one of the best players in the Big 12. I’ll give him credit. He earned my respect tonight.”