Huntington (W.Va.) Prep senior forward Andrew Wiggins was named the 2012-13 Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year on Wednesday. The 6-8, 215-pound wing averaged 23.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 2.5 assists per game this past season, leading the Express to a 30-3 record and a No. 7 spot in the USA Today Super 25 national rankings. A two-time Gatorade State Boys Basketball Player of the Year, Wiggins won the Naismith Boys High School Player of the Year award and was a finalist for the national Morgan Wootten Player of the Year award. He is rated the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2013 by ESPN, Scout.com and Rivals.com.
We sat down with Wiggins to better understand how he outshined more than 535,000 boys high school basketball players nationwide to win the award.
Q: You were born and raised in Toronto until coming to play stateside in 2011. Do those Canadian roots run deep enough for you to be a Raptors, Jays, Leafs and Argonauts fan?
A: Leafs, Jays and Raptors, yes. I don’t watch football.
Q: You’ve represented Team Canada in two FIBA world championship tournaments and, in 2010, you lit up the U.S. for 20 points, five boards and two blocks in 22 minutes. How sweet was that?
A: It’s always a good feeling to go up against Team USA.
Q: Did you ever consider hockey and what position do you think would best use your skill-set?
A: No, never considered it. I can skate though. I think I’d make a pretty good goalie.
Q: Last Canada question: What’s this whole Loonies and Toonies thing about?
A: Loonies are our $1 coin. Toonies are our $2 coin. Americans think it’s funny, but it’s just normal money to us.
Q: Both your parents were pro athletes. What’s one piece of advice they’ve given that you constantly repeat to yourself?
A: Stay humble and the sky’s the limit.
Q: The celebrity status associated with being the nation’s No. 1 recruit can be suffocating. Do you ever feel like you get a chance to breathe?
A: I do get a chance to breathe. It’s different being the focus of such attention, but I’m used to it.
Q: Tell the truth: Who’s better at NBA 2K13, you or [countryman, friend and Huntington Prep point guard] Xavier Rathan-Mayes?
A: I’m the best on the team. If I play him five times, he’ll win maybe once.
Q: Seven years ago in sixth grade, you rode the pine a lot. Any leftover, zany bench antics from those days?
A: Nope, I just cheer and try to be a good teammate.
Q: Your head coach Rob Fulford says you have a little bit of ‘dog’ in you. What does he mean by that?
A: He means that when I feel the moment is right, I try to attack, attack, attack and go hard at my opponent to put them away.
Q: You’ve said repeatedly that you wish folks would remember you’re only a teenager. Why is that so important for us to keep in mind?
A: It’s kind of self-explanatory, I guess. I’ve been shown a lot of attention and people expect a lot from me, but those expectations come from adults who are 20 years older than me. I’m still a young guy. I’m still learning.