When Andrew Wiggins’ father tells him whether his son is going to stay in the 2014 recruiting class or try to graduate this year and go into the 2013 talent pool, then Huntington (W.Va.) Prep coach Rob Fulford will know what his star player will do.
However, the coach already knows enough about Wiggins’ talent to know that if he wants to reclassify, it makes perfect financial sense.
“I was in Toronto last week and have already had a conversation with the family,” said Fulford. “They are going to meet before he comes back to school. But until I¿hear one way or the other out of Mitchell Wiggins’ mouth, nothing else means anything. They are still discussing it as a family and figuring out what direction they want to go.
“My view on all of it, he was wasting time going to college. An extra year of high school is throwing away money (from the NBA). There are too many risks (of injury) involved. He does not need to be in high school another year. He could use it to get stronger and work on his skills, but he is just prolonging not getting the money. He grew an inch last year to 6-8. He’s not finished growing. He’s 17 and looks 12. This is not a normal situation. I can’t say what his decision will be, but from our end he does not need to go to high school (for two more years).”
Wiggins is the top-ranked player in the 2014 recruiting class. If he reclassifies, he’ll go to No. 1 in the 2013 class just as UK freshman Nerlens Noel did when he switched from the 2013 class to 2012.
“He will have a ton of classes, and they will all be core classes, no fluff. It will be a very difficult year academically for him to graduate. Those are the things his family has to talk about and he has to make sure he is really ready to buckle down academically,” Fulford said.
Wiggins had a huge game last month at an AAU tourney when he thoroughly outplayed Julius Randle, another UK¿recruiting target and a top-10 player nationally.
“Everybody said that was like his coming out party, but he plays like that all the time,” Fulford said. “He just destroyed Julius Randle doing it. But it was not anything different than we see every day.
“He’s very humble. Never complains. Most guys in the NBA that are elite players are like that. You have a few knuckleheads, but there are not many highly successful NBA guys that are not good guys. That’s not to say there are not some, but not the big superstars. And Andrew is going to be a superstar.”
He’s 6-8 with an incredible 44-inch vertical jump. Fulford says he could play shooting guard or small forward with no problems. He says he could be used at point guard at needed or maybe even at power forward.
“He can play any of those positions and play them very well,” Fulford said. “Basically, he plays wherever he wants. He can score, shoot. You can’t stay in front of him. He makes plays for other guys. If there ever was a point forward, he is it. He is just one of those kids that does not come along very often.”
Wiggins has Kentucky and Florida State, where his father played, at the top of his recruiting list. Fulford says coach John Calipari’s job at UK would be “to figure out where to play him” and notes how well he has done that with other high school stars the last three years.
Fulford says he does not know twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison, two top-five guards out of Texas who also have UK¿high on their list, or how they would mesh with his star.
“But if they are unselfish and value winning, they certainly can play together. They are all different players and they can all play multiple positions. It would not be hard to them to all three play together,” Fulford said.
Kentucky fans should get a chance to see Huntington Prep play several times this season. Fulford is working on scheduling games against two teams from Canada on consecutive nights in Lexington and Louisville possibly at places like Bellarmine College and Lexington Christian Academy. His team not only has Wiggins, but also 6-3 Xavier Rathan-Mayes, currently a UK¿target, and 6-9 Moses Kingsley, a Louisville target.
“We just don’t get the turnout here for games that we could get in Louisville and Lexington,” Fulford said. “I am a pretty savvy business guy and know sellouts in Lexington and Louisville would make us more money.”
His team will also be playing in the Flying to the Hoop in Dayton, Ohio, in January and the Marshall County Hoopfest. He says several top prep teams — Oak Hill Academy and Findlay Prep — have turned down his requests to play Huntington in those tournaments.
“Our problem is just getting people to play us,” Fulford said. “The big boys are dodging us. But we are going to the City of Palms in Florida. We are everywhere this year just to get games.”
Rathan-Mayes didn’t make UK¿visit
Huntington (W.Va.) Prep shooting guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes did not make an unofficial visit to Kentucky on Friday as he originally planned because of a long delay at the Canada-U.S. border when he was returning to school from his home in Canada..
“He got stuck at the border crossing for several hours and did not get to Huntington to almost midnight Friday,” said Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford. “Saturday he had to get situated with his housing and all that stuff. His mom was here to help him get his room set up.
“To be honest, I¿am not sure they were planning to make a special trip out of it to UK but were just going as part of the trip back. I am sure he will get back down there if need be.”
The 6-3 Rathan-Mayes, a top-25 prospect in the ESPN 100, has scholarship offers from Alabama, Baylor, Connecticut, Florida State, Illinois, Kansas, Memphis, Texas, UCLA and more.
His decision about Kentucky will be impacted by what Texas twin guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison decide since they are all similar players.
“Xavier can play but right now it is just wait and see. He is not going there (UK) if the Harrison twins do. He’s not going there to be a four (power forward),” Fulford said. “Coaches always want things done and finished in a hurry, but I do not anticipate him doing anything soon.”