Andrew Wiggins (Getty Images)
The early front runner to go No. 1 overall in the 2014 NBA draft has passed on the chance to play for Canada at the U-19 World Championships in Prague next month. He'll instead spend his summer focusing on what's likely to be his lone season at Kansas.
“At 18 years old, Andrew has a long basketball career ahead of him. Andrew’s decision to prepare himself this summer for the upcoming season is a decision we acknowledge," Canada Basketball assistant general manager Rowan Barrett said in a statement. "Our team will miss Andrew this summer, but we remain focused on Andrew's long-term development and our organizational goals for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and beyond."
Wiggins' decision not to play for his country this summer comes as a disappointment to Canadian basketball fans, but he's hardly alone in making preparation for the college season a priority.
None of Kentucky's heralded incoming freshmen are trying out for the U.S. team, nor is prized Duke recruit Jabari Parker. In fact, Arizona-bound Aaron Gordon was the lone top 20 Class of 2013 recruit who chose to try out for the U.S. U-19 team and the only other incoming freshmen on the roster are Arizona's Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Washington's Nigel Williams-Goss and UCLA's Bryce Alford.
Nonetheless, the decision by Wiggins draws greater scrutiny in Canada since he is the nation's premier young player. Not only did he help lead Canada to a bronze medal at the U-18 Americas tournament last summer to secure a berth in the U-19 World Championships, his name had also been listed on the Canadian U-19 roster prior to this weekend's announcement.
Canada's loss is certainly great news for Kansas, which expects to have its entire freshman class on campus this week once Wiggins arrives.
The Jayhawks are counting on Wiggins, guard Wayne Selden, center Joel Embiid and the rest of the freshmen to help make up for the loss of five starters from last year's Big 12 championship team. Having that class together on campus this summer should help them speed up the maturation process and build chemistry on and off the floor.
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