Huntington (W.Va.) Prep forward Andrew Wiggins was named the 2013 Gatorade Athlete of the Year on Tuesday, the first Canadian to win the award. The 6-foot-8, 215-pound Wiggins, the consensus No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2013, averaged 23.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 2.5 assists per game during the 2012-13 season, leading the Express (30-3) to a final national ranking of No. 7 in the USA TODAY Super 25.
We sat down with Wiggins to see if his latest accomplishment had sunk in.
Q: You were already in a pretty exclusive club as a National Player of the Year. Now you’re in a more exclusive club as an Athlete of the Year, in a group that includes athletes like LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Kevin Love. What do you think about that?
A: Being in a category with those superior guys is a great feeling. They’re the best at what they do and hopefully I can get to be the best just like them. It’s a blessing to be in the same breath as LeBron James and Dwight Howard.
Q: Did you think when you made the decision to come to the U.S. to play your high school basketball that it would end up like this? Is this more validation that you made the right decision?
A: Not exactly like this. Before I came here, I didn’t really know about this stuff. I didn’t know about anything until I came here. So when I got here, I always had the most confidence; I always want to think I’m the best so I always aim for the best. So I was confident about this.
Q: What have you taken away from this experience, being around all these other elite high school athletes?
A: They’re all so humble. There was not a negative soul here. Even when I won, they all congratulated me, they were all so happy for me. It just shows how far that can get you. God blesses people who are nice and humble, who have positive upsides to them. They all have positive upsides to them.
Q: Who do you most want to see on the red carpet tomorrow night at the ESPYs?
A: Ahh, I don’t know. Ahh, Kevin Durant, Jay-Z if he goes. Kobe, LeBron, Kevin Hart if he’s there.
Q: Will you go say hi?
A: I would be nervous. I would probably have someone to go ask them if they would take a picture with me.
Q: What do you think about so many NBA teams possibly tanking for the upcoming season all to possibly be in position to draft you?
A: I think that would put a lot of pressure on the average kid.
Q: Do you think of yourself as an average kid?
A: No … but it’s a lot of pressure. That’s risking a lot for one person.
Q: Was it a huge weight off your shoulders to pick Kansas or did it just increase the pressure?
A: It was a big weight off my shoulders.
Q: What’s the one thing you have to have in Toronto that you don’t think you’ll be able to get in Lawrence, Kan.?
A: Toronto is a big city. Downtown Toronto has a lot of big buildings and is very diverse. My family, my home school, all my best friends are there.
Q: So what’s this we hear about you dunking on Cole Aldrich?
A: [Laughs] Oh, man. I dunked but it wasn’t really on him. He was in the picture though.
Q: What does Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk mean, anyway?
A: On the campus there were these stones … I’m trying to remember the story. These stones under the … I can’t remember. Ask me again in two days.