Top recruit Wiggins wows crowds at Scott County High School

broberts@herald-leader.comNovember 18, 2012 

The No. 1 high school team in the country was in danger of being upset at Scott County High School on Sunday.

Nobody seemed to care.

To the more than 2,000 fans that filled the gym to near capacity, the score meant next to nothing.

Their rooting interest was focused squarely on one player: University of Kentucky recruit Andrew Wiggins.

Much like his team, Wiggins struggled for much of the game but did just enough to make it a successful night.

The senior forward scored 17 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and led top-ranked Huntington Prep to a 61-44 victory over Christian Faith Center (N.C.) in a game that seemed very much in doubt for the first three and a half quarters.

Wiggins, the best high school player in the country, took a while to get started.

He missed his first six field-goal attempts and didn't score until the 3:31 mark of the second quarter.

"My shot wasn't falling," he said afterward.

He closed the half with 10 points in the final three-plus minutes, including a deep, fadeaway three-pointer that brought the crowd to its feet.

In the second half, he broke out the fireworks everybody came to see.

At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Wiggins leapt for an offensive rebound, caught the ball while his head was at rim level, and threw it down for a thunderous slam.

UK Coach John Calipari exchanged glances with assistant Orlando Antigua.

The rest of the crowd got to its feet and serenaded the UK recruit with a chant of "Go Big Blue!"

"It was amazing," Wiggins said. "The atmosphere was great. All of the fans loved me and supported my team. It's a great place to play basketball here. People love basketball ... the desire for the game. So I appreciate that."

After the game, it was more questions about his recruitment. More autographs. More photos with fans who hope to see him playing in Rupp Arena this time next year.

Huntington Prep Coach Rob Fulford said those are the things that his star player has yet to fully embrace.

"He doesn't like it," he said. "We try and tell him, 'You're in Huntington right now. A little sheltered. Nobody really cares. After June, when you're out of here, you're in trouble.' So he's getting better at it. But he's kind of shy."

Wiggins fielded every question, signed every autograph and posed for every picture — including one with a toddler all decked out in blue and white.

"I know Kentucky fans are crazy for basketball players," he said.

As far as his recruitment goes, Wiggins didn't drop any hints.

The 6-foot-8 forward, who's originally from the Toronto area, listed Kentucky, Florida State, Kansas, Ohio State and North Carolina as the schools recruiting him.

He also said he won't be making a college decision until the spring, and doesn't anticipate taking any official visits until his high school season is over.

But he's already had plenty of experience with "Big Blue Nation."

Wiggins attended last year's Big Blue Madness, and was in the Rupp crowd for the Cats' big win over North Carolina at the beginning of the season.

"He understands," Fulford said. "He was at the Carolina game up here last year. So he gets it. He understands that it's kind of a rock-star status. And that Jay-Z and Drake and all the guys are around. ... He knows the difference between Florida State and Kentucky."

Those are the two schools expected to be there at the end of his recruitment.

Wiggins had nothing but praise for the five players he could eventually join in UK's No. 1-ranked class, but said he's never really met any of them.

Nor has he made much of an effort to.

"I'm just trying to live my life and play basketball," he said.

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216Twitter: @NextCatsBlog: ukrecruiting.bloginky.com

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