Antwaine Wiggins is the Raptors 905’s second round pick in the D-League draft. After his senior year at Charleston, where he averaged 15.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game, Wiggins went undrafted in the 2012 NBA Draft and headed overseas to play in Brazil.
After a couple more years spent overseas, Wiggins signed a D-League contract this year to become eligible for the draft. And now, at 27, Wiggins will be suiting up for the Raptors 905 this season.
Wiggins was nice enough to speak with me about his basketball career and his time with the Raptors 905 so far.
Cole Shelton: Hey Antwaine, how are you? And thank you for doing this.
Antwaine Wiggins: I’m good and no problem man, anytime.
CS: First off congrats on getting drafted. How is training camp going?
AW: Thank you and yeah it’s going well, man. We have been doing a lot of training and a lot of conditioning. But yeah it is going well just super ready for the season.
CS: For sure, the season is almost here. Your defense is the best part of your game to many. What is it like to know in college your nickname was “The Curry Stopper” after you held Steph Curry to 5-of-20 shooting and blocked his game winning shot attempt?
AW: It is an incredible feeling. When we played him in the playoffs and we put him out and he told before he left college and went to the NBA, I was the toughest defender he ever went against. I mean it is a pretty good feeling just to know that he is where he is today, and I was one of the toughest defenders he ever played against in college. It’s absolutely crazy.
CS: After your college career what was your plan after you didn’t get drafted?
AW: I planned on playing professional basketball always, but I did want to get drafted. Halfway through my college career my coach that I was with for five years, he got sick. His name is Bobby Cremins. He’s a pretty famous coach but he had to quit halfway through the season. So we had another coach come over and that kind of decreased my odds of getting drafted, because he didn’t give me the freedom Bobby Cremins gave me. I’ve always had that passion and always been my goal to make it to the NBA, so I’m just happy I’m in the right direction, to hopefully make my goal happen one day.
CS: You went overseas after not getting drafted, what was your favourite part of playing there?
AW: Probably just the experience living in a different country, as I was seeing a whole new world as I was so used to America, my whole life. So when I went over there it was a huge culture shock but I was lucky to have some really good teammates who helped me adjust quickly. It was fun though, I enjoyed my experience overseas. I did miss America and home a lot.
CS: Your defense is arguably your best tool but what else is there? Describe your basketball game.
AW: I’m really a player who can really do everything. I’m a 6’8” guard who can also play any position 1 through 5. I am very versatile and at my height I can handle the ball really well, and I am very athletic. Like I said before I can really do anything so that is why I think the coaches like me, because there isn’t really one thing that I can’t do. I am also a great team player, I love getting my teammates involved and helping my teammates out whenever they need it. I am a very high energy player which I have always been so I always just try to bring energy into the game get the fans, my coaches and the team into it. Just making it a fun environment.
CS: Coming off of that as well what do you think the 905 and coach Stackhouse want in you as a player?
AW: Well I have always been known as a slasher, because I can handle the ball very well. So I think they want me to attack the basket, and when people try to stop me and I have two or three people on me trying to stop me just to find my teammates and make the right plays. Also like I have always been a defensive specialist and every night I’m going to bring that to the table, and if it’s the best player on the other team and they need me to stop them I’ll be ready for that. Or if they need me to get rebounds or anything I’m just going to be there for my team and that is my only focus.
CS: You can do a lot on the court, but what are you most looking forward to with playing in the D-League and with the 905?
AW: The competition definitely, that is something I missed while I was playing overseas. It is great basketball overseas but I just missed the competition North America provides. Also over here I feel like they have a higher basketball IQ and that makes the game fun, when you have players on your team you can depend on them to make plays, as well as have them depend on you to make plays.
CS: So your cousins with Andrew and Nick Wiggins. Nick played with the 905 last season have you talked to them about the D-League and the 905?
AW: [Laughs] Yeah I have talked to them about the D-League a little bit, but I actually seen them for the first time this summer since I was five or six years old, so it was good to finally see them again. Nick told me he enjoyed his time here and he gave me some good advice so I can adjust and be prepared for the D-League and the Raptors 905. He said he had a great experience here and I expect the same and keep the Wiggins name of having a good reputation here.
CS: What is your basketball goal for this season?
AW: My only goal is to just become the best player I can possibly be. That is my only goal and that I can work hard and improve everyday. I just wanna be the best basketball player I possibly can be. As far as where I want to be only God knows that, you know. Yeah I just want to be the best basketball player I can possibly be is my goal.
CS: So the 905’s head coach is Jerry Stackhouse, how is he as a coach so far?
AW: Man, he is awesome. It is a great feeling having a coach who is like a Hall of Fame NBA player, who played against great players. He has so much experience and knowledge about the game so it is a awesome feeling playing for him. He is very confident and backs up his players. He also just lets us go out there and have fun but also makes us work hard and lets us know that to go on that court you have to earn it and it isn’t going to come easy. Which it is the same way in life and it’s really fun having him for a coach.
CS: You mentioned before you can play any position on the court what position are you most comfortable playing?
AW: I’d have to say the two or the three [SG or SF]. Those are my favourite positions to play because I like handling the ball. As well as I like to make plays for my teammates and create plays for myself and it’s definitely my most comfortable position to play. I learned to adapt to play the four or the five [PF or C]. Even in college in my senior year my point guard got injured so I had to play point guard for half a season. So as long as I am on the basketball court I’m happy, that is my safe zone.
CS: You went overseas instead of the D-League when you weren’t drafted, why the D-League now?
AW: Well it was a good opportunity. I had an opportunity to come out here and work out for Stackhouse and the Raptors 905, and the staff and the coaches showed an interest in me. So the opportunity was there and I felt like if it was any time to go why not now. Also I just had a son who is two months. So it would be good to be closer to the States so I can see him more and be more involved in his life.
CS: Wow, congratulations on the baby. Like you said before the competition is very good, as well as the talent on the 905. Is coming off the bench something you are comfortable doing?
AW: Yeah, I mean as long as I am on the basketball court that is all that matters. So coming off the bench or starting it is all a mind thing. So as long as I can be out there and help my team win that is all that matters at the end of the day.
CS: You mentioned you were a slasher and an all around player, what is one thing you want to improve on?
AW: I mean like I told you, I am an all around player and want to improve on everything as much as I can. I’m pretty good at a lot of things but if it is one thing I would have to say my three point shot. I feel I can be a complete player if I can make some threes.
CS: Thank you for taking time out of your day and best of luck this season with the 905.