FRISCO, Texas — It wasn’t a head-scratcher for many Iowa State men’s basketball fans when Lindell Wigginton declared for the 2019 NBA Draft after two seasons in Ames.
Of course, he’d done the same after his freshman campaign, when he was named to the Big 12’s All-Newcomer Team. But Wigginton didn’t hire an agent and ultimately returned to ISU for his sophomore season.
This time, however, he did hire an agent, ending his time with the Cyclones.
Wigginton didn’t hear his name called in last June’s draft and now is in the NBA G League with the Iowa Wolves, but looking back on the past year, he wouldn’t change a thing.
“It was cool,” he said of his time in Ames. “My two years, I feel it went good. I just made a decision to go pro. No, I don’t regret anything.”
In 56 games, 33 starts, with the Cyclones, the Canada native averaged 15.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
Thus far, he’s played 38 games for the Wolves, Minnesota’s G League affiliate, and in 26.6 minutes per game is averaging 15.4 points, 3.8 assists and 3.6 rebounds.
The former ISU star has made a favorable first impression on Wolves head coach Sam Newman-Beck.
“A constant learner. A really talented kid, really skilled, wants to be great,” Newman-Beck said. “A young guy who has two years in college but he’s getting better. Since the last 10 games or so, he’s really made some strides as a point guard. He’s really embraced the process in terms of understanding what he needs to get better at, and he really wants to get better at it.”
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Wigginton credits his stint with Toronto in the 2019 Vegas Summer League, where he averaged 7.4 points in five games, for first exposing him to the NBA environment and for helping prepare him for what he would see in training camp and in his first season as a professional.
“Yeah, I feel like it’s starting to show itself. Like I said, I’ve been here for half the season now and I’m just getting more comfortable as the weeks go by,” he said. “I just feel like I’m getting better each day. My coaches are always pushing me, giving me confidence. I respect them for that.
“They always keep me confident and let me just go out there and play my game.”
And like many who also played in Ames, seeing fellow ex-Cyclones in the NBA like Deonte Burton and Abdel Nader (Oklahoma City) and Georges Niang (Utah) gives him additional inspiration as he forges his own route to the Association to hopefully one day join them there.
“Yeah, they did it before me. They paid their dues at Iowa State, played some in the G League and now they’re on standard contracts,” Wigginton said. “That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m just getting better each day and trying to follow in that role.”
When asked about his biggest adjustment to the pro game, he did not cite the quicker pace of the game. Instead, he feels having a more cerebral approach to basketball is the biggest difference he’s noticed thus far as a professional.
And as a point guard, having such an approach toward the game is nothing new for this ex-Cyclone.
“Obviously, (they expect me to) be a leader, be a guy who can make plays for my teammates, also get myself involved,” Wigginton said. “Obviously, I’m a scorer. I score the ball. Just try to be a leader off the court. Obviously, I’m a rookie but as a point guard I've got to put guys in the right spots. I think that’s what I’ve been doing well.”
However, one adjustment he hasn’t had to make is living somewhere new. Ending up with the Wolves has allowed him to remain in Iowa, a big bonus in his eyes.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
“Yeah, it’s cool and I get a lot of fan love everywhere I go. Obviously, it’s comfortable for me,” Wigginton said. “Obviously, it’s not Ames but Des Moines is close. It feels good.”
And even though he’s still playing in the same state where he spent his two-year college career, Wigginton admits he doesn’t find himself looking back on his two seasons at Iowa State.
Instead, his focus is on where it should be, on doing all he can to help the Iowa Wolves win games in the NBA G League.
“Yeah, I’m in the present right now, so just going to finish whatever I've got going on and then look to work it out,” Wigginton said.