Kentucky’s recruitment of Andrew Wiggins went international over the weekend.
John Calipari traveled to Brampton, Ontario on Saturday to catch 2014’s No. 1 recruit at the Caribana Classic Basketball camp, which is sponsored by Wiggins’ AAU team CIA Bounce. Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton was also in attendance. Wiggins has said several times that the Cats and Seminoles are the two schools recruiting him the hardest.
CIA Bounce coach Mike George told Next Cats that Calipari has made recruiting trips to Canada in the past, but this was the first time either he or Hamilton had crossed the border to see Wiggins play.
The event came on the last weekend of the final live period of the summer. Wiggins skipped CIA Bounce’s trip to Atlantic City last week, which led to some speculation after Hamilton showed up in New Jersey and Calipari didn’t. The top recruit’s absence was unexpected, and some questioned whether he had tipped off the UK staff that he wouldn’t be there but didn’t bother telling Florida State.
George laughed at the thought.
“No, no. You have to remember that Leonard Hamilton is still recruiting Xavier (Rathan-Mayes). So he was there to see him,” he said.
George didn’t say UK and Florida State were necessarily at the top of Wiggins’ list, but the criteria he gave makes it clear that they’re in better shape than anyone.
“It’s who’s recruiting him hardest. That’s what counts. That’s what he wants to see,” George said. “If he’s playing, you better have a coach there front and center. And it better be the head coach. And if it’s not – you have a problem.”
But some top recruits say they don’t even scan the stands to see which coaches are watching. Not true, says George.
“They look. They know. Every kid. No doubt about it. And if they’re not looking, I look for them. I’m taking mental notes. ‘This coach wasn’t here, that coach wasn’t here. Why not? What’s the excuse?’ “
Other schools commonly mentioned in Wiggins’ recruitment are Duke, North Carolina and Syracuse. Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim are in London with the U.S. Olympic team. Roy Williams didn’t make the trip to Canada. Calipari and Hamilton have been following Wiggins all spring and summer.
Before Wiggins picks a school, he needs to pick a class. He’s currently listed as a rising junior, but he would be able to join the class of 2013 by adding a few extra credits. George said the coaches and parents would all sit down with Wiggins over the next couple of weeks to make that decision. The coach stressed that it would ultimately be the player’s call.
“He does understand that when he makes the jump into the college world, everything changes. Life changes,” George said. “It’s not just a basketball decision. It’s a life decision. You have to do what makes the most sense for your life. You’re the one living it. Not me.”
Mayes, who is a close friend of Wiggins’ and his AAU and high school teammate, has become more of a UK target in the past few weeks. Calipari called last week to say he would be watching him during the high school season, and Mayes has floated the idea of he and Wiggins playing for the same school.
George said UK’s interest in Mayes is genuine. ESPN ranks the shooting guard as the No. 21 player in the class of 2013.
“They obviously like him,” George said. “He will be a player that obviously could play in their system. But he could play in Florida State’s system. He can’t make any mistakes there. All of the schools recruiting him — they’re all great schools.”
Other schools on Mayes’ list include Kansas, Louisville, UCLA, West Virginia, Arizona, UConn, and Texas.
One thing that could keep Mayes out of Lexington is the commitment of the Harrison twins. If the superstar guards pick the Wildcats, they’ll be expecting to start immediately. Mayes is apparently looking for the same situation.
“I think he has to at least have an opportunity to compete for that starting job. Because he’s a competitor. That’s who he is,” George said.