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Top recruit Andrew Wiggins taking time to be a teenager



Andrew Wiggins doesn't seem to be stressing over his looming college decision. / Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports

On Monday afternoon, with the biggest decision of his life looming, Andrew Wiggins went to Walmart. One of the most-hyped college basketball recruits of all-time needed to buy boxes to start packing up his sneaker collection.

The footwear will probably be transported from Huntington, W.Va., where he attends high school, to his home in Toronto. But the final destination remains unknown.

Wiggins’ seemingly unending recruitment has engrossed college basketball fans for over a year, as they — and college coaches, for that matter — look for any hints or indications about where he might land. And through it all, the Huntington Prep senior has remained remarkably quiet.

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Lesley Thomas, whose family has hosted Wiggins in West Virginia for the past two years, said in a phone interview on Monday that the decision has weighed on Wiggins. As the May 15 deadline to sign a national letter of intent approaches, his choice remains unclear. Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina and Florida State are his top four choices, but anything deeper than that is a guess.

Thomas said that when Wiggins returned from a whirlwind tour of high school all-star games and interviews last month, he was exhausted.

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“I know for him,” she said, “he’s just ready to get the decision over with.”

Thomas said she still does not know the exact date of Wiggins’ reveal, but there are signs that it could be quite soon. Wiggins told her that his mother, Marita Payne-Wiggins, is planning to come to West Virginia from Canada to support his announcement. Thomas said that would be “sometime in the next week or so.”

“He said, ‘When I declare where I’m going, my mom is going to be there with me,'” Thomas said.

If Wiggins decides after May 15, he would just sign scholarship papers rather than a letter of intent.

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Thomas can’t remember the last time she asked about the decision, because she wants her home to be his one safe haven, the one place without questions. She even forbade her two sons, Luke, 13 and Clayton, 10, from bringing it up around the house.

(Luke did ask Wiggins if Kentucky’s incoming recruits were jealous of him. His response? “He said, ‘No, they’re all very respectful. They’re cool guys,’” Lesley Thomas said. “He told him they all had a good time together.”)

Thomas said Wiggins has filled the past two weeks with much-needed distractions. He has been soaking up the fact that he is a teenager, that he is graduating from high school, that his world will probably never again be so simple.

This weekend he went to the prom with his girlfriend Mychal Johnson, who is also a top basketball recruit.

“He got home later and said ‘I’ve got to take a shower before the after-prom party, because I just danced nonstop for three hours,” Thomas said. “I was just so glad he was able to enjoy himself.”

Wiggins has played Wiffle Ball with Luke and Clayton, he has gone to see Iron Man 3 with friends and he has thrown out the first pitch at a minor league baseball game in Charleston.

Later this month, Thomas said, he plans to return to Toronto and go to a prom with his elementary school friends. Maybe he’ll dance for three hours again. Maybe his decision will be behind him by then.

Of course, at the movie theaters and the baseball fields and school dances and everywhere, really, Wiggins has been followed by the question there is still no answer to. Sometimes he just puts his cellphone on silent.

Regardless, the college basketball world will wait however long it takes, and Andrew Wiggins will try to remember that he is, after all, just a teenager. He’ll remember that when you’re 18, there is no rush.

 

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