The story that will accompany Andrew Wiggins’ first game at Kansas, an impromptu exhibition during coach Bill Self’s summer camp, already has taken on a decidedly Paul Bunyan-esque quality.
Those who were in the gym last week, and the thousands of people who have seen video of the game, know the real story. But when is reality as much fun as folklore? And the play that Wiggins made in the first couple of minutes against current and former Jayhawks lends itself to a tall tale.
What’s fact is that the top high school prospect in the country, the odds-on No. 1 pick in next year’s NBA draft — the next LeBron James, as he’s been called — found himself in the open court with the ball in his hands and only NBA center Cole Aldrich standing in his way.
From there, the folk-hero version goes like this: Wiggins elevated from beyond the 3-point arc, posed midair for a couple of photos, autographed the ball and then slammed it down.
The truth: Aldrich stepped aside and watched as Wiggins effortlessly dunked it.
Either way, the play was enough to send Jayhawks fans into a tizzy, light up Internet message boards and burnish the almost mythical aura that already accompanies the 6-foot-7 swingman.
“I let loose of all my nerves,” Wiggins said afterward, “so I felt good after that dunk. I just let my game come to me. That’s what happened. That’s what the fans wanted to see.”
They’ll want to see plenty more of it this season.
Wiggins is arguably the most talented player to arrive in Kansas since Danny Manning in the ’80s, and Self wonders whether anybody has created as much hysteria since Wilt Chamberlain.
He has prototypical NBA size and athletic ability, a game already far more advanced than his peers’, and an uncanny ability to make the most difficult plays seem pedestrian. He also has the unmistakable swagger, modest though he may be, of a player who simply knows that he’s good.