DRAFFENVILLE, Ky. — With his future head coach in attendance, Lindell Wigginton put on a show to lift Oak Hill Academy to a win at Marshall County Hoopfest on Friday.
Wigginton, a 6-1 point guard in his third year playing for Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), scored a team-high 19 points with five rebounds and four steals in front of Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm.
Following No. 2 Oak Hill’s 80-55 victory against Tennessee Prep Academy (Memphis), the two embraced and exchanged a few words.
It might have been the first time Wigginton has played in front of Prohm since his signing to the Cyclones last month, but the two had very little to catch up on.
“We talk every day. Just about life most of the time, sometimes basketball. It’s really just personal life more than anything. That’s why I feel so comfortable with him,” Wigginton said.
Prohm had to have liked what he saw Friday, as his future point guard dashed through the lane for buckets while also creating havoc on the defensive side of the ball. He had what was perhaps the play of the night when he finished an ally-oop dunk off a Matt Coleman assist.
The pressure is now off for Wigginton, who is relaxing a little more on the court following his signing, but he is still putting pressure on himself to play more consistently. That is a trait Prohm wants out of him.
“He wants to see me improve and be consistent, really just finishing at the rim. That’s what I do best,” he said.
If anyone knows about the improvements Wigginton has already made, it’s Oak Hill coach Steve Smith. He has seen Wigginton develop from a scrawny 155-sophomore to a strong and powerful leader as a senior.
Maturity has helped turned Wigginton into the No. 12 point guard prospect in the nation and No. 53 overall, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
“He has worked hard in the weight room and really bought in to our weight training program,” Smith said. “He’s positive on the floor. He used to hang his head when he missed shots and he doesn’t do that anymore. He doesn’t let that dictate how he plays the game.”
Friday night, Wigginton was the star, but often Billy Preston has shouldered the load. In his first year at Oak Hill after transferring from Advanced Prep International (Dallas), Preston has given Oak Hill a boost down low.
Preston, a Kansas recruit who scored 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting Friday, has taken some of the scoring burden away from Wigginton this season.
“He takes a big load off my back because he can score as well as I can score,” Wigginton said. “I don’t have to be the man to score all the time. I can distribute to my teammates and I have a lot of guys I can distribute to.”
But make no mistake, the team now belongs to Wigginton. He has the control of his team, not only by his actions on the court but by his example.
As a three-year member of Oak Hill and a two-year starter, Wigginton has seen Division I prospects come and go — while his game has steadily improved.
“Playing for Coach Smith, he’s just a great coach and I love playing for him. He pushes you to be the best you can be,” he said. “Through my three years, the first year I was just getting the feel of it, the second year I played great and this year I’m trying to be great again.”
It’s been a whirlwind year for Wigginton, who played a prominent role in leading Oak Hill to the DICK’S Sporting Goods Nationals championship and later playing for the Canadian National Team that took second place in the FIBA Americas Under-18 Tournament.
In the midst of it all, Wigginton had a college commitment to worry about. There’s no longer any worry for Wigginton, who feels he has found his home at Iowa State after picking the Cyclones over Oregon and and Arizona State.
And for Prohm, who developed Isaiah Canaan and Cameron Payne into NBA point guards while coaching at Murray State, believes he has his next point guard with current starter Monte Morris a senior.
“Lindell was a huge get for us,” Prohm said last month. “I love him and his family. He plays at Oak Hill, where he’s played against great competition the last couple years. It makes for an easier transition from high school to college. He’s athletic, fast with the ball, can really score, but also makes others better.”
As Wigginton finishes up his last year at Oak Hill, Smith is looking for Wigginton to improve on his shot. There’s no doubt for Smith that his point guard is ready for the next level, though.
“I think he is strong enough and ready to go,” Smith said of Wigginton. “Some freshmen aren’t ready physically but he is. I think he’s perfect for Iowa State.”