As preseason accolades continue to pour in by the day for highly touted freshman Andrew Wiggins, Kansas coach Bill Self had some less flattering things to say about the nation's No. 1 overall recruit.
Self acknowledges Wiggins has as much raw ability as any player he has ever coached, but this week he questioned whether the 6-foot-8 wing consistently plays hard enough to fully tap into his potential. Self said Wiggins hasn't always been the best player on his own team during preseason workouts, let alone the best player in the nation.
Said Self to reporters at Kansas media day on Wednesday, "He's not a great player right now, he's a great prospect."
Said Self to ESPN.com a day later, "He’s been marginal. Compared to what people are saying, I think he’ll have some ups and downs."
Why would Self publicly criticize a player many have labeled a preseason All-American before his first college game? The answer is probably two-fold.
Self is surely trying to temper the sky-high expectations for a kid whose talent became an urban legend before he finished high school. The Kansas coach is undoubtedly trying to motivate Wiggins and keep him focused as well.
The notion that Wiggins needs to give a more consistent effort on every play is one of the few criticisms scouts had of him as a high school player, along with the need to improve his ball handling and jump shot. Wiggins seldom faced players with anywhere near his combination of size, quickness and explosiveness, so he could typically do enough to dominate a game without going all-out every possession.
That mentality won't always work as well at the highest level of college basketball. Wiggins has the tools to have a Kevin Durant-esque freshman season, but Self is trying to make sure he has the mental discipline to make it happen.