High school phenom Andrew Wiggins recently ended all the speculation about what college he would attend by selecting the Kansas Jayhawks.
The recruitment for the No. 1 player in the country dragged on months longer than most top prospects, thus leading to additional media attention. Experts have been predicting which school he would choose for the last four months (most were wrong). The scrutiny has been intense to say the least.
However, when it’s all said and done, Duke Blue Devils’ recruit Jabari Parker will garner more national attention in the college game next year.
It’s a pretty simple concept: Duke basketball is the epicenter of college basketball. Love them or hate them, their players are a known commodities. Think of the attention that was paid to Christian Laettner, Grant Hill, Elton Brand, Shane Battier, Jason Williams and J.J. Redick. Some went on to great NBA careers, while others fizzled out after leaving Durham.
But it didn’t matter. While they were at Duke, everyone in the country knew them and had an opinion about them. There are a number of factors that have led to this love/hate relationship with Duke and the average hoops fan.
First and foremost, Duke is always on television. ESPN has a love affair with the Blue Devils and it seems like every game they have is on one of their networks. Legendary announcer Dick Vitale is sarcastically referred to as “Dukie V” because of the praise he rains down upon coach Mike Krzyzewski and his players.
Secondly, Duke is always in the national conversation. While other teams seem to have down seasons, Duke rarely does. As a result, people are constantly talking about Duke’s chances, most hoping they won’t win it all.
So next year when Wiggins is playing for Kansas, Parker will be in the media spotlight for Duke. That’s not to say the Jayhawks aren’t competitive — clearly they are an outstanding program, often times finishing ahead of Duke.
However, their players don’t garner the national attention like Duke players do. The best player in the country this past season very well could have been freshman Ben Mclemore of Kansas. Yet some people probably didn’t know who he was until mid-February.
If he had gone to Duke, he would have been a household name before Christmas.
Ultimately, it won’t matter where either Wiggins or Parker goes. Both players are very likely going to be one-and-done guys and preparing for the NBA Draft a year from now. However, Parker is going to be the name you’ll hear most over the next year. He’ll have every opportunity to put himself into the pantheon of all-time Duke greats.
Meanwhile, Wiggins will have to settle for being the best player in the country and the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.