By Jasminee Sahoye
Andrew Wiggins is now more than ever widely known among Canadians and Americans after he became both the first Canadian and Minnesota Timberwolves player to win NBA Rookie of the Year.
His outstanding first year included averages of 16.9 points and 4.6 rebounds for an atrociously bad Wolves squad (16-66).
He tweeted “I just wanted to thank everyone who supported me. I appreciate all the love today.”
The Vaughan native received 110 first-place votes and 604 total points in the voting. Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic finished second and Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel was third.
Wiggins has a connection to Barbados as his mother, Marita Payne-Wiggins, who was born on the island, is a Canadian retired track and field athlete who competed in two consecutive Summer Olympics. She is the co-Canadian record holder in the 400 metres, along with Jillian Richardson, and the legal Canadian record holder in the 200 metres.
His father, Mitchell Lee Wiggins, is an American retired professional basketball player who played the shooting guard position.
Wiggins returned to Canada to a celebrity welcome to host a party for the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight on Saturday. He told reporters his phone has been ringing all the time since he was recognized as rookie of the year.
“I’ve been trying to respond to the closest people to me and I’ll try to get back to everybody but it’s been going off.”
He said the award is very special.
“I had a lot of goals coming to this point, to make the NBA, be the first pick, then after the first pick I wanted to be rookie of the year, so it was a list of things I wanted to achieve. And this is just the beginning.”
Many young male students from his former high school in Vaughn were excited about his award saying he is an inspiration to them. Wiggins also hopes to inspire other Canadian kids.
“Yeah, just always motivation and hope, and hope I can be a positive role model for them to just want to get to the point I’m at right now,” he said.
His twitter feed has many congratulatory wishes from his fans including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Wiggins was rated top prospect for 2014 but announced in October 2012 that he would officially reclassify into his original high school class of 2013 and was immediately placed ahead of the previous top prospect, Jabari Parker, by ESPN.
Wiggins was named the 2013 Naismith Prep Player of the Year on Feb. 25. He was named the 2013 Gatorade National Player of the Year on March 28 as the U.S.’s top high school player, the first Canadian player so named.
In May 2013, he was named Mr. Basketball USA. He was ranked number one high school basketball player by SLAM Magazine.