Wiggins dances around questions about future, says "I can play anywhere"
Monday, Aug 11, 2014 06:15 pm
VAUGHAN, Ont. - It's been a roller-coaster summer for Canadian basketball star Andrew Wiggins, from that momentous night in June that had him bound for Cleveland as the No. 1 draft pick, to last week's reports that Wiggins was on the move.
On Monday, the 19-year-old was just happy to be shooting hoops at his old elementary school, deftly dancing around questions about his future.
He'll be playing basketball somewhere this season, and he insists that's all that matters.
"I don't worry about anything out of my control, I just know I'll be playing basketball in September," he said.
The basketball world has been abuzz about Wiggins and whose jersey he'll be wearing come October. Numerous reports last week have Wiggins, fellow Canadian Anthony Bennett and a first-round pick headed to Minnesota for all-star forward Kevin Love. The deal can't be consummated until Aug. 23, when Wiggins is eligible to be traded.
The Vaughan, Ont., native was at Glen Shields Public School to shoot a commercial for BioSteel, the Canadian sports drink company he's signed an endorsement deal with. A couple dozen journalists, including some 10 television cameras, turned up to talk to the most-hyped player in Canadian history. But Wiggins, speaking publicly for the first time since the reported trade was agreed to, had little to say about what his rookie NBA season might hold.
After Wiggins attended Jayhawks coach Bill Self's basketball camp Sunday, Self said Wiggins told him he'd welcome the trade to Minnesota, where he could be the face of the franchise, rather than playing in the shadow of LeBron.
"Even though in a weird way everybody would love the opportunity to play with LeBron because you're guaranteed winning, for the longevity of his career, he needs to develop that mindset to be the guy, for him to be great, and I think being Minnesota will help him do that," Self said.
When asked about Self's comments, Wiggins would only say: "Anywhere, any team. I can play anywhere."
He was similarly brief in response to all answers about his NBA future.
When asked whether he wants to be his team's star player he said: "Whatever happens is out of my control, I'm not worrying about it right now, I'm just here having fun."
When asked about his thoughts on a future with the Toronto Raptors: "The hometown love will always be there, no matter what, I try to do good for the city, the city tries to do good for me."
When someone pressed the issue, asking again if he'd like to play for Toronto: "Um. . . I don't know. Only God knows. That's too far ahead."
On where he sees himself in the next five or 10 years: "Whatever God wants. God has a plan for me."
The six-foot-eight Wiggins said he's tried to avoid the buzz going on around him, spending time with his family and enjoying the summer. He drowns out the noise by "listening to music, listening to my family."
He insisted he's had no trouble concentrating, saying: "Basketball is the love of my life, no matter what happens, I'm always concentrating on basketball."
The six-foot-eight forward, who starred in his one season at Kansas, did admit life has changed a lot since the June 26 draft in Brooklyn, N.Y.
"More eyes on me. More criticizing, stuff like that," he said. "But going to Kansas University, that kind of prepared me for moments like this, because Kansas, they treat the basketball players like rock stars, so it kind of prepared me for this transition."
When asked if he'll play with a chip on his shoulder, Wiggins said "I think every player, every competitor should play with a chip on their shoulder, no matter what, everyone has something to prove."
"I'm a competitor, so, yeah."
Wiggins spent the day shooting a commercial with a group of young kids. They fed him alley-oops that he dunked with ease on the hoop that he knows so well. There were plenty of laughs and high-fives.
"When I was playing basketball with the kids, I forgot it was a (commercial) shoot, I was just having fun with the kids playing basketball because it just brought back all these memories," Wiggins said.
His face lit up when asked about the chance to return to his roots.
"It means a lot, coming back to my old stomping grounds, this is where it all started," Wiggins said. "Growing up as a little kid, I was here every day after school, even coming before school, just playing basketball here with my friends. It's just good being back.
"It just brings it all back, this is where it started, you can never forget where you came from. If it wasn't for this school right here, I don't know where I'd be," Wiggins added. "Growing up as a kid, even the teachers here changed my life, really."
While he was loving being back home, Wiggins wouldn't bite when asked about the upcoming mayoral vote in Toronto. When asked who he'd vote for in the election that includes controversial candidate Rob Ford, who recently returned to work following a stint in rehab, Wiggins answered, with an awkward chuckle: "Not too sure."