A lethargic Thursday recruiting news cycle was tossed on its head when the nation’s No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2014, small forward Andrew Wiggins (Thornhill, Ontario/Huntington Prep), reclassified to the 2013 class.
By making the move to his original class, Wiggins ascended past Jabari Parker (Chicago/Simeon) and became the No. 1 senior in the ESPN 100. Parker, who missed much of this past summer with an injury, lost the top spot through no fault of his own. You better believe that a player of Parker’s stature and pedigree is thinking about two things: getting his fourth state title and cranking up his own game to give Wiggins a run for his money.
The big picture, from a recruiting perspective, is clear. Wiggins as a senior is a game-changing recruit. If Kentucky were to nab him, the Wildcats would have unquestionably the greatest recruiting class of all time. They added wing James Young (Rochester, Mich./Rochester) two weeks ago, and while Wiggins isn’t worried about anyone beating him out for playing time, there remains the question of how many basketballs can be shared in Lexington, Ky. That’s UK’s obstacle to overcome in recruiting Wiggins, but it’s not the only one.
Wiggins’ father, Mitchell, played for Florida State in the early 1980s, and Leonard Hamilton’s crew has aggressively pursued the younger Wiggins. Both FSU and UK went out of their way to have face time with Wiggins in Canada during the summer.
Aiding the Seminoles' cause is high school and travel ball teammate Xavier Rathan-Mayes, a recent FSU pledge. Rathan-Mayes' dad also played at FSU, and the two recruits' fathers played together with the Philadelphia 76ers as well. Rathan-Mayes and Wiggins grew up together in Canada and have been close ever since. The sons followed their fathers’ lead, and their relationship is a continuation of the one their fathers began nearly two decades ago.
You’ll also hear North Carolina, Kansas and Ohio State mentioned with Wiggins. They’ll make their pitches, but heading into Wiggins’ recruitment as a senior, most would agree that the first-tier players for his services are Florida State and Kentucky.
Wiggins and Parker weren’t the only guys who had their rankings affected by Wiggins' reclassification. Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley) woke up Thursday morning as the No. 2 junior in America. When he lays his head down Thursday night, he’ll be the new No. 1 player in the ESPN 60. Jones, who visited Duke last weekend, is the closest thing to Chris Paul on the high school level. A natural leader, winner and improving scorer, Jones now has the No. 1 bull's-eye affixed to his jersey.
We’ve seen elite players switch classes before. Andre Drummond moved up two years ago. Last winter, Nerlens Noel claimed his spot in the senior class. And less than a month ago, Noah Vonleh (Haverhill, Mass./New Hampton School) got the ball rolling in 2014 when he decided to join the 2013 group. Vonleh recently announced his final six schools.
At the heart of Wiggins’ move is the fact that he’ll now be able to start his NBA clock a year earlier. Instead of spending two more seasons in high school and one in college, he’ll finish out this season, pick a school and be the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 selection in the 2014 NBA draft.
In the meantime, one college program will score a talent the likes of Tracy McGrady -- a player who can score, leverage his athleticism and impact a campus, and possibly a franchise, the moment he signs on the dotted line for both.