College basketball fans love the month of March. The NCAA Tournament begins next week, and teams across the country are using this week to build their resumes for the selection committee by playing well in their conference championship tournaments.
NBA teams and scouts will pay close attention to the following weeks in their preparation for the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft. With the Lakers headed into the lottery this season, GM Mitch Kupchak took some time Thursday to scout Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins and appeared to like what he saw from the kid:
Wiggins came into his freshman year as the number one recruit from high school, and many draft experts had him going number one in the talent-heavy 2014 NBA Draft. Throughout the season, Wiggins has been outperformed by other freshmen phenoms, Duke’s Jabari Parker and his teammate Joel Embiid.
Embiid was ruled out indefinitely after visiting a back specialist in Los Angeles Monday. With Embiid out, all of the attention on Kansas starts with Wiggins, and he did not disappoint Kupchak and everyone else in attendance Thursday. Wiggins led the Jayhawks to a 77-70 victory in a Big-12 Tournament Quarterfinal overtime thriller against Marcus Smart and the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
During the game, he dropped 30 points while shooting 53 percent from the field and grabbed eight rebounds. Wiggins’s versatility and upside was on display Thursday as he relied on his jumpshot to punish the Oklahoma State defense as he said after the game according to AP sports writer Dave Skretta:
My shot was falling the whole game. They cut off the base line, and step-back is one of my main moves, and it just fell through.
Athleticism is one of Wiggins’s main strong points, and the Cowboys made an effort to stop him from getting to the rim. Wiggins took on that challenge and shot his way to the victory. He was still able to get the rim when he wanted and went to the free throw line 10 times, sinking nine from the charity stripe.
With more high profile college games coming, Lakers scouts will be sure to be busy in the upcoming weeks. If performances like Thursday continue for Wiggins, Kupchak might have to consider selecting him in the draft should he still be available when the Lakers’ selection is up.
H/T to Daniel Buerge of TWCSportsNet
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