Andrew Wiggins’ family settled into a row of eight seats with a bird’s-eye view of the Timberwolves bench. The group included his mom, dad, his three sisters and an older brother.
“We’re at most of the home games,” said Mitchell Wiggins, his father.
If not at Target Center, the family usually can be found at a high school gym watching Wiggins’ two younger sisters play as members of the Hopkins High basketball program.
Wiggins’ introduction to the NBA has become a family affair. Once his trade from Cleveland to the Wolves was finalized last summer, the family packed up their Toronto-area home and moved to the Twin Cities to be near Wiggins.
Though he’s flourishing on the court — runaway favorite for Rookie of the Year honors and superstar-in-the-making — Wiggins is still a teenager at 19. He credits his family for helping him adjust to his new environment.
“Going through something like this, first year in the NBA,” Wiggins said, “it’s always good to have family beside you, supporting you, comforting you.”
Wiggins’ older sister Stephanie and older brother Mitchell Jr. live with him at his home. His parents, Mitchell and Marita, and two younger sisters, Angelica and Taya, live in their home 10 minutes away. The only family member not here is older brother Nick, who plays for the Utah Jazz’s D-League team in Idaho.
“We see [Andrew] every day,” his father said. “He wanted us close. We try to give him his freedom and his independence.”
Wiggins’ parents felt their son’s age — he turns 20 on Feb. 23 — made it important for him to be surrounded by family while adjusting to life as a professional athlete.
“He’d still be in college if the world was normal,” Mitchell said.
Wiggins says he’s close to all of his siblings, but he’s admittedly “real protective” of his younger sisters — Angelica, a senior at Hopkins, and Taya, a sophomore.
“He thinks that he’s their father,” Marita said.
For example …
“Sometimes when we’re walking across the street he still tries to hold my hand,” Taya said, laughing. “If I have to go to the bathroom [in public], he’ll be like, ‘Angelica, go with her.’”
Angelica, who recently turned 18, said they often get text messages from him asking, “Where are you?”
“Very protective,” she said.
Wiggins keeps close tabs on their basketball careers, too. He attends their games when his schedule permits and works with them at open gym.
“My sisters love to shoot,” he noted.
As kids, they spent hours shooting together at the community center near their school in Toronto. One-on-one games were no contest, but shooting competitions were a little more even.
“He doesn’t always win,” Angelica said.
Uprooting and starting over at a new high school required sacrifices, but his sisters embraced the change. They’ve made plenty of friends and are doing well in school.
“I was excited, not sad,” Angelica said of her senior year.
Their arrival at Hopkins brought curiosity and some unrealistic chatter, considering their family genes. Their father had a long pro basketball career, including six NBA seasons. Their mother won two silver medals in track and field for Canada at the 1984 Summer Olympics. The two older brothers played college basketball.
And, of course, Andrew was the No. 1 overall draft pick.
“At first, everyone probably expected us to be like him,” Angelica said. “Everyone probably thought that we’re going to be dunking.”
Hopkins coach Brian Cosgriff, who has won five state championships and sent 21 players to Division I programs, didn’t know what to expect when he learned that Wiggins’ sisters were joining his program.
“I kept asking, are they big?” he said.
No, they’re shooting guards and superfast. Angelica averages 3.5 points per game off the bench for the state’s premier program. Taya plays on the sophomore team.
Both hope to play Division I basketball. Cosgriff believes they likely will get that opportunity, though he wishes he had two years to work with Angelica, who indicated she might attend junior college next year.
Wiggins said his sisters don’t feel pressure living in his basketball shadow.
“I don’t think they think about it like that,” he said. “They’re just living life.”
That life revolves around family. The siblings try and see each every day, if possible. They watch TV, talk, listen to music. Normal stuff.
“He’s goofy,” Angelica said of her big brother.
They love being able to share this time with him, which makes it an ideal situation for Wiggins and an organization that has staked its future on him. Mitchell said the family hopes to stay at least until Taya finishes high school.
“We’re a very close family,” he said. “We all believe in each other.”