Parker and Wiggins expose critical flaws in tournament
He has the size. He can run the floor better than anyone. He can score from down low and beyond the arc. This freshman has all the skill sets to make it at the next level.
Sounds familiar? These are the types of comments analysts and coaches have been preaching to people about Duke’s Jabari Parker and Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins all season.
Throughout this entire college basketball season, Parker and Wiggins have stolen the show in most of their games. The freshmen studs have been drawing media attention even before the season began.
With all of the seasonal hype surrounding the two young men, it was only fitting that the nation had high expectations of them in the tournament this year. I mean, we are talking about top-ten draft picks for this upcoming NBA draft.
The NCAA tournament was just the stage and spotlight Parker and Wiggins needed to solidify their talents to NBA scouts, as well as the casual fan.
However, what I and everyone else in the nation saw in the first and second round of this year’s NCAA tournament from these two, was less than mediocre. Watching their tournament games, I would not have expected that these two freshmen were arguably the NCAA’s best players all season.
Tell me again why they should make the jump to the NBA right now?
Maybe this is just me thinking too critically, but when a NBA franchise is looking for a future franchise player, I would think they might at least want their guy to have performed respectively in the tournament.
Now I understand there have been plenty of outstanding NBA players who have not made a bit of difference in the NCAA tournament, or much less played a game in the tournament.
But things are different with the way the media is set up today, because every move these athletes make seems to end up on Twitter or on ESPN. Expectations are inevitably higher with the more eyes watching these days.
Add in the fact that Duke and Kansas are expected to do well in the tournament every year, and the pressure to be that star player adds up pretty fast.
Now I had been very fortunate to be able to watch these guys play a few games this season, and was very excited to see what they had to bring to the tournament this March.
Sadly, what I saw in these first two rounds of the tournament, were not two future NBA All-Stars. Heck, these guys did not even look like the athletes from the past couple of months.
For example, with a chance to take his team to the Sweet Sixteen, Andrew Wiggins was non-existent.
Against Stanford, a team Kansas was expected to roll through, Wiggins had just 4 points. Not in one half, not in the final minutes, but the entire game.
This performance looked nothing like the kid who was averaging 17.4 points per game in the regular season. In what could potentially be Wiggins’ last game in college, am I as an NBA owner supposed to feel comfortable about this entering the draft?
Aside from the lack of point scoring in the game against Stanford, Wiggins also looked out of sorts in the final minutes with his ball handling decisions.
At one point, with just over 8 minutes to go in the contest, Wiggins botched a clearly wide-open layup with a little too much strength on it.
With under a minute left, Wiggins drove into the lane in a heroic effort trying to break the defense. He fumbled the ball and eventually lost it in a jump ball situation.
It was in that final minute that Wiggins had the opportunity to redeem himself and help his Jayhawk team edge out Stanford.
These notes are not specifically biased or meant to bash Wiggins, but there has to be a level of stability and maturity a kid has before he leaves college and moves onto the NBA. Wiggins would be helping himself and his future NBA team by waiting another year at least.
Parker’s game was nothing to brag about either. In an embarrassing loss to Mercer University, Parker posted just 14 points and 7 rebounds.
While on paper the numbers look fairly average, these statistics are not revealing of how little an impact Parker really had.
Take into effect that Parker is one of the best players in the NCAA, and add the fact that this loss occurred to the underdog Mercer, and the numbers start to show how poor the performance really was.
No matter what, Parker and Wiggins are first round talent, most likely even top 10 pick talent. But after this tournament, and two very early exits from Duke and Kansas, these boys need to come back.
Now, is it likely these two are both going to return? Probably not, and who wants to give up instant millions with an NBA contract and probable shoe deals?
These two rare talents need a mentor right now who can sit them down and tell them to stay at least one more season. A one-and-done college career is a dangerous idea at this moment, especially after that lackluster performance by both of them in the tournament.
Duke and Kansas have enough talent joining their squads next year, as well as the returning talent, to make an even better run next season. If these two make the choice to return, their shot at a national championship is still bright, and their opportunity to mature will present itself naturally as they get more games under their belt.