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Assigned Reading: Building Canada’s next Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Wiggins

AP Photo


Shakur Daniel is a freshman in high school, not yet old enough to have a recruiting page on Rivals, Scout or ESPN, yet those close to him back in his native Canada are already treating the 6-foot-4, 15-year old as if he’s the second-coming of Andrew Wiggins.

I’ve never seen Daniel play, but I can feel pretty comfortable saying that he is not the second-coming of Andrew Wiggins.

Wiggins is a freak of nature, a genetic marvel that got all the best athletic traits from a father that played in the NBA and a mother that medaled in the Olympics. If the medical community ever gets to the point where they can genetically modify children to create athletes, Andrew Wiggins is who they would create. He’s that gifted athletically.

And Daniel?

He could very well end up being a great player down the road. Maybe he ends up being an all-league player at the high major level. Maybe he gets drafted by the NBA. Maybe he makes an all-star team. And maybe he doesn’t grow another inch and ends up having to settle for being a nondescript college athlete that has to “settle” for a free education and a life outside the hardwood.

Who knows.
The reason I bring all of this up is because today, Eric Prisbell of USA Today provides us with a fascinating look into Daniel’s basketball life and how he and his father have been sold by notorious Canadian basketball power broker Ro Russell on recapturing the magic of Wiggins.

There are all kinds of red flags in this story. Daniel’s father quit his job a year ago to move from Toronto to Arizona to try and get a prep school, Elite 1 Academy, up and running for his son to attend. That prep school would require Daniel to take classes at The Odyssey Institute for Advanced and International Studies, according to Prisbell’s story, but The Odyssey hasn’t even started the ball rolling to try and get the classes provided by their school approved by the NCAA’s Eligibility Center. And all this is happening under the watchful eye of Russell, whose past high school coaching stops have resulted in a number of players -- most recently, Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes -- being ruled non-qualifiers.

That’s amateur athletics at the highest level for you.

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