Freshman Andrew Wiggins’ collegiate basketball playing career is just beginning this month at Kansas, but the Canadian’s hoops star’s future seems like a foregone conclusion. The subtitle of “ESPN The Magazine’s College Tip-Off Issue,” on newsstands today, reads: “Or let’s just call it what it is: The 2014 NBA Draft Preview Featuring Kansas Phenom Andrew Wiggins.”
Elena Bergeron, staff writer for The Mag, wrote the cover story profiling Wiggins, also available now on ESPN.com. Bergeron and Jennifer Holmes, a Mag senior editor, tell Front Row how this feature and issue came together.
How much access did you get to Wiggins?
Bergeron: I got to spend the afternoon watching the team’s position workouts, so I got to see Wiggins work out for an hour with the other wings, both in solo drills and one-on-one possessions. After that, I sat down with Wiggins for about an hour in the sports information office, talking about everything from Canadian hoops to his top-five favorite rappers. Kansas has one of the more accommodating sports information departments, but because of the overwhelming number of requests to talk to Wiggins, they were spacing out reporters’ visits throughout his first few weeks on campus. He was just getting adjusted to his class schedule.
Kansas has superstar recruits seemingly every year. What’s the buzz around Lawrence about him?
Bergeron: Because Wiggins was a late add-on to the class of 2013, the buzz nationally was really huge even before he committed. There was even a website where people could weigh in on his choice. On campus, classmates Instagram him or walk up to him for high-fives and tell him how excited they are that he’s on campus. Since he’s already singled out, he really likes to hang out with the rest of his team.
On the pages of The Mag, there are “Extra Help” sidebars — “former one-and-dones dish advice to this year’s top freshmen.” What inspired this?
Holmes: One-and-dones have been a hot topic for several years: Are they good for the sport? Are they ruining college hoops? But because of this season’s potential for a large number of one-year guys, we had several of our reporters reach out to NBA stars who were one-and-dones and get their take on it and any advice, looking back on their decisions, they would want to impart to these young guys.
What most distinguishes this “College Hoops Tip-Off Issue” from previous ones?
Holmes: When we sat down to talk about the stories we wanted to tell in the season preview, the one thing that continually came up was the insane amount of buzz around the incoming freshmen. And not just in college hoops circles, but in NBA conversations as well. So, this preview is as much about the college basketball season as it is about the NBA draft — the latter being a sort of subversive influence this year. With that in mind, most stories had an NBA element, or somehow spun forward to next June.
Editor’s note: ESPN’s extensive men’s college basketball schedule begins Friday, Nov. 8 with 23 games airing across the networks.