Could They Be the Next NBA Stars?
Alfred Anderson | Staff Writer
In the 2003 NBA Draft, players like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade were a part of an NBA draft class considered by many to be one of the best of all time. 10 years later, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon and even N.C. State’s own Anthony Barber have drawn comparisons to some of the best players in the league today.
Basketball season is just getting under way, however the hype surrounding the aforementioned talent has been building since these players were in high school. These McDonald’s All-Americans were walking across the stage just a few months ago, and now they’re playing for some of the biggest basketball programs in the country.
At N.C. State, freshman guard Anthony Barber has coach Mark Gottfried and staff excited about his potential. Barber, nicknamed “Cat” was ranked as the best point guard in the state of Virginia and the 7th best point guard in the nation according to ESPN. Barber attended Hampton High School in Hampton, Virginia and was also selected as 2013 McDonald’s All-American.
Through his first three games as a member of the Wolfpack, Barber has averaged 10 points and a couple of assists per game. Barber and fellow Wolfpack freshmen Beejay Anya, Kyle Washington and Lennard Freeman, along with sophomores Tyler Lewis and T.J. Warren, help to form a young team filled with potential and promise for the future.
Andrew Wiggins, a 6’8” small forward from Canada attends the University of Kansas and is expected to be the top pick in next year’s draft. His father, Mitchell Wiggins played for both the Chicago Bulls and the Houston Rockets during the 1980s. His mother, Marita Payne-Wiggins competed for the Canadian team in the 1984 and the 1988 Summer Olympics.
Wiggins attended Vaughan Secondary School in Vaughan, Ontario for two years, and then transferred to Huntington Prep School, in West Virginia. There he averaged 23 points and 11 rebounds and was also named the Naismith Prep Player of the Year and Gatorade National Player of the Year.
Just down the street, on Tobacco Road, Duke Freshman Jabari Parker has taken the Bull City by storm. The 2012 Gatorade Player of the Year attended Simeon Career High School in Chicago, Illinois. He was ESPN High School player of the year as well as state champion during his first three years of high school. Parker was the top player in his recruiting class until a foot injury sidelined him during the beginning of his senior year, in which he averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Texas native, Julius Randle, who was recruited heavily by N.C.State, chose to take his talents to the University of Kentucky. The 6’9” power forward attended Prestonwood Christian Academy, and averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game attracting attention from schools all over the country.
Lastly, Aaron Gordon, from San Jose, California is a freshman at the University of Arizona. Gordon won multiple state titles in California and was the MVP of both the 2013 McDonald’s All-American Game and the 2013 FIBA Under-19 World Championship Tournament. As a forward at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Gordon averaged 22 points and 16 rebounds per game. He has been compared to Los Angeles Clipper power forward Blake Griffin because of his talent and athletic ability.
Through their first few collegiate games, these freshmen have lived up to hype surrounding their anticipated debuts. Last week during the nationally televised Champion’s Classic at the United Center in Chicago, Randle and the Kentucky Wildcats lost a heartbreaker to Michigan State. However, Randle’s performance was awe-inspiring, posting 27 points and 13 rebounds against an experienced Michigan State team. Parker and Wiggins went head to head in the second game of the classic, that saw Kansas edge past Duke 94-93. Wiggins went for 22 points and 8 rebounds in the Jayhawks’ victory, while Parker scored 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a losing effort. Arizona Wildcats star Gordon has also made noise during his first few games. Three games into the season, he is averaging a solid 14 points and nine rebounds a game, helping push the Wildcats to a 3-0 record.