INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) – For the second time in as many years, the Cleveland Cavaliers went north of the boarder with the No. 1 overall selection.
After all the rumors and speculation about a possible trade, the Cavs selected Kansas shooting guard Andrew Wiggins, who hails from Canada, with the top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
“It’s a dream come true,” Wiggins said.
General manager David Griffin is hoping that the 19-year-old will be another cornerstone to help the franchise return to contention quickly, and also have a larger impact than last year’s Canadian rookie Anthony Bennett did.
“We knew for quite some time in our minds who we wanted to take if we kept the pick,” Griffin said.
Wiggins plans not to disappoint.
“I think I can be a great player, I want to be one of the best,” Wiggins said. “That comes with hard work and dedication and sacrifice. That’s what I need to do to become the best.”
Griffin had plenty of opportunity to move the pick, depending on which rumor you chose to believe, but most were blown out of proportion.
“There were many, many, many offers that were publicized to have been made that were never made,” Griffin said. “Many, many offers. And many better offers that were made that were never publicized, so I’ve learned now that the league is moving at the speed of Twitter – for right or wrong. And the vast majority of it relative to this draft process and everything frankly that we’ve had going on, unfortunately, is just asinine.”
Wiggins set a school freshman scoring record by averaging 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for the Jayhawks and was named a second-team All-America selection. He was also selected as the Big 12 freshman of the year and first-team all-league.
Fitting in with the young Cavaliers won’t be a problem for Wiggins, who expects to spend his time playing small forward in Cleveland but can remain at shooting guard if asked.
“They’re young, they like to run, they’re athletic, they want to win” Wiggins said. “All of them are aggressive and I’m like that too so I think we’ll get along great. I’ve never been on a team where a teammate didn’t like me.”
He joins Danny Manning (LA Clippers in 1988) as the only players in Kansas history picked No. 1 overall and is the second Canadian selected by the Cavs with the top pick in as many years. Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson, selected No. 4 in 2012, also hails from Canada.
Wiggins is familiar with his new Canadian teammates having played with both Thompson and Bennett at the AAU level and national level with Bennett.
“I think we all connect pretty good,” Wiggins said. “The chemistry is already there and we have goals that we want to accomplish and a lot of them are the same goals so I think we’ll be good.”
That time at Kansas – albeit 1 year – has groomed him for the pressures and attention that comes with going No. 1 in the draft.
“Big college teams, big schools really prepare you for this moment,” Wiggins said. “We’re always in the spotlight. No matter what you’re the center of attention. We’re like a rock star on the court and off the court so I think that really prepared me and translates to the next level.”
Wiggins’ father, Mitchell, played at Florida State and also 6 seasons with the Chicago Bulls, Rockets and 76ers where he averaged 15.5 points per game.
Jabari Parker, who became the first freshman to lead Duke in scoring and rebounding with 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game last season, was also in consideration for the top pick but Griffin and the Cavs opted for Wiggins.
“All of our scouts felt he had the most upside,” Griffin said. “Andrew understands there is another level of his game we want him to get to. He knows he’s got more in the tank.”
Parker went No. 2 over all to the Milwaukee Bucks and Joel Embiid third overall to the Philadelphia 76ers. Embiid was also a candidate to go No. 1 until a stress fracture in his right foot was discovered by Cavaliers’ team doctors during a physical exam.
Wiggins becomes the sixth player, and third in 4 years, selected by Cleveland No. 1 overall – Austin Carr (1971), Brad Daughtery (1986), LeBron James (2003), Kyrie Irving (2011) and Anthony Bennett (2013).
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