NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, left, congratulates Andrew Wiggins of Kansas who was selected by the Cavaliers as the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
By Michael Beaven
Beacon Journal sports writer
INDEPENDENCE: The Cavaliers added a Canadian for the second year in a row with the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft following the selection of Andrew Wiggins on Thursday night.
Wiggins, a native of Thornhill, Ontario who played one season at Kansas University, is the newest addition to Cleveland following last year’s No. 1 pick, Anthony Bennett.
“I think I can be a great player,” Wiggins said during a teleconference with local media at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “I want to be one of the best. I think it comes with hard work and dedication to be one of the best.”
Wiggins, 19, is 6-foot-8 and 200-pounds. He can play small forward and shooting guard after averaging 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 32.8 minutes per game in his lone season at Kansas after playing high school ball at Huntington Prep for two years.
“I want to come in and make an impact right of the bat,” Wiggins said. “I want to come in win Rookie of the Year and play in the all-star game.”
Wiggins later talked about winning championships. He showed confidence and smiled as he wore a flashy black and white suit, and shook hands with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after his name was called first at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Duke’s Jabari Parker was the top American selected as the Milwaukee Bucks picked him at No. 2. The Philadelphia 76ers took Kansas’s Joel Embiid third, the Orlando Magic took Arizona’s Aaron Gordon fourth and the Utah Jazz took Australia’s Dante Exum fifth.
The Cavs picked shooting guard Joe Harris of Virginia with their second round pick, 33rd overall. Harris is 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds. He played four years of college ball and averaged 12.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game during his career.
“I am really, really excited about what we were able to do tonight,” Cavaliers General Manager David Griffin said at a news conference after midnight. “This is a very good night. I am a little tired at the moment, but this is a good night for Cleveland Cavaliers fans.”
Wiggins was a consensus second-team All-America selection, the Big 12 Freshman of the Year and an All-Big 12 first-team pick.
“If Andrew is able to find greatness in this league, it will be as a really big two,” Griffin said.
“He is a perfect fit for our ball dominant guards we have right now. . . Andrew is very much a team guy. He is not a me guy. He is a team guy.”
Griffin praised Wiggins for his solid defensive skills during a television interview with ESPN, and compared him to Shawn Marion. Others have compared him to Tracy McGrady, as an athletic player with elite leaping ability.
"All of our scouts felt like he had the most upside,” Griffin said.
Wiggins is the third Canadian on the Cavs roster to go with Bennett and Tristan Thompson.
“We have always been cool,” Wiggins said. “I played the AAU circuit with Tristan and AAU and at the national level with AB. There is chemistry and we all want to be good.
“[This is a] great thing for Toronto. Great thing for Canada, actually. Before this, no player from Canada has been No. 1, and now we have two back‑to‑back No. 1’s.”
Wiggins expressed excitement about joining a young Cavs team that features Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller, Thompson and Bennett.
“Their young, they like to run and they are athletic,” Wiggins said. “They are all aggressive and I think we will all get along.”
Wiggins also addressed the possibility of playing with former Cavalier star LeBron James, who has opted out of his contract with the Miami Heat and filed for free agency.
“It would be great to play with the one of the greatest ever,” Wiggins said.
Wiggins is the sixth player the Cavs have selected No. 1 overall, joining Austin Carr (1971), Brad Daugherty (1986), James (2003), Irving (2011) and Bennett (2013).
Carr, Daugherty, James and Irving have each played in at least one NBA all-star game.
The last Kansas to go No. 1 was Danny Manning in 1988.
“This is a dream come true,” Wiggins said. “The last 24 hours I have been running around doing interviews. I have been preparing for this moment. . . . I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was a little kid. My dream was just to make the NBA.”
Wiggins said he met new Cavaliers coach David Blatt last week when he was in town to work out, and feels comfortable with his style.
“I know he’s a great coach, a European coach,” Wiggins said. “I asked around, no player has never not liked him. He’s a great coach, and I think he’s going to do great things for our team and just help us on the come‑up.”
The Cavs will look to improve their roster in the coming weeks through free agency and trades, and Griffin will be doing so with two new players he feels fit in Blatt’s system.
“You are all the way in or you are all the way out,” Griffin said. “Andrew Wiggins is all the way in on Cleveland.
“Joe Harris is a very good complimentary piece for us as a shooter. . . . He is really good off of screens.”