22 points and 8 rebounds. 27 points and 9 rebounds. 27 points and 13 rebounds. Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Julius Randle did not disappoint in their grand introduction to college basketball’s national stage via the State Farm Champions Classic. All three showed why right now they are NBA lottery caliber players. But when assessing these three it’s important to remember that we just saw game two of a very long hoops season. But what I noticed the most last night as I covered the event from the United Center is their vastly different personalities on the court.
Andrew Wiggins has the most raw talent of the group, but even though Bill Self says he doesn’t question his competitiveness, I do. I didn’t see any fire out of him until the game was nearing a close and he caused Jabari Parker to pick up his 5th and final foul.
What Wiggins lacks in competitiveness, Parker makes up for it. Jabari wants the ball and his confident aggression offensively, combined with that competitive nature allowed him to put on a show in his home-town. But although beautiful to watch, his game doesn’t seem to come as smoothly as it does for Wiggins.
Julius Randle by far has the most NBA ready build out of the three, but he seems to lack motivation unless his back is up against the wall. Randle’s meager 4 points in the first half and a 12 point deficit seemed to fuel the Kentucky power forward, who finished the game with 27points after a monster 2nd half. The question is can he motivate himself without having to lead a come-back.
Will these perceived weaknesses persist throughout the season? The good thing about this, is that the season is still in its infancy stages and each of these freshman phenoms will develop their game as it continues. It will be interesting to see whether I have the same opinion of these players in April.
State Farm Champions Classic Awards
Best Fans: Hands down Kansas. Rock Chalk was definitely in the building and their spirited fan base made the most noise by far.
Best Cheerleaders: Considering Duke’s cheerleaders didn’t travel for the game and Kansas only had three girls out there, this battle was between the Kentucky Cheerleaders and the Michigan State Cheerleaders. The Spartans based on factors such as looks, flair, and engagement easily beat the Wildcats.
Best Band: Kentucky’s prep band played with the most clarity and excitement. Everyone else was pretty much dull.
Best Mascot: I’m not giving this award to anyone considered they all did the Terio dance.
Best Dressed Coach: Coach K was by far the cleanest to take the podium. Not a hair was out of place, and his suit was classy and crisp.