Strong, independent, self sufficient. That sums up Oswego East senior Andrew Wiggins, but he is no army of one.
He’s definitely a team player.
No doubt, it’s just one of many positive character traits that led football coaches at West Point to view the 6-foot-2, 190-pound linebacker as a potential recruit.
The 3.67 GPA carried by Wiggins, a two-sport standout, had to help, too.
“What he brings to the team is toughness, and he’s tough-minded,” said Oswego East basketball coach Ryan Velasquez, who starts Wiggins at forward. “What we like about him — he’s not afraid to battle with the bigger guys.
“He’s 6-2, but you look at his frame. He has broad shoulders and a wide base. He brings so much to the table for us.”
Wiggins’ focus Wednesday was divided between the two sports.
In the morning, he signed with Army, where he will play football. In the evening, Wiggins then scored four points with five rebounds, three steals and one blocked shot in a 60-59 nonconference loss at Metea Valley.
Will Ashford, a 6-6 senior who finished with a game-high 23 points, powered the Mustangs (5-4) to a 12-point lead in the third quarter. Jehvion Starwood, a 6-3 guard and Wyoming recruit who finished with 17 points, then led a comeback by Oswego East (8-5).
A steal and layup with 11 seconds to go from Noah Mason tied it 59-59 for the Wolves.
Metea’s James Parker answered. He was fouled on a drive to the basket and made the first of two free throws with 2.6 seconds left.
After a timeout, Parker missed the second free throw, Mason rebounded it, but his desperation shot well short of the half-court line was off the mark.
“We needed to score and the ball was in my hands,” Parker said. “It wasn’t the plan to miss the second free throw, although we talked about it in the huddle.
“It played out very well, though.”
Meanwhile, basketball may have been Wiggins’ first love, but he realized football was best for his future.
“When I got to football sophomore year, I realized I was a lot better at it,” he said. “I was really athletic, and just tried to work on my gift and get better.”
He played cornerback as a junior but moved this past season to linebacker.
“We probably played him out of position junior year,” Oswego East football coach Tyson LeBlanc said. “I’m guessing Army might even try him at nickel safety.
“What’s different with the military academies, you actually sign a piece of paper that doesn’t commit you to the football team but to the school for four years.”
In their junior year, Cadets commit to serve eight years after graduating in a combination of active duty and reserve component service.
“I think it’s really good,” Wiggins said. “It can set you up for life. You sacrifice a little bit of your freedom but work for your country, and it’s what you have to do.”
Wiggins also had an offer in October from Air Force, but joined high school teammate and offensive lineman Tim Savchuk in signing with Army. Savchuk had committed in June to West Point.
“Army talked to Tim about me and he put in a good word,” Wiggins said. “That’s how it worked, then they saw my film and liked the way I play.”
Two other Division I football signees from the Wolves were offensive lineman Zac Clarke with Cincinnati and tight end Aiden Moriarty with Southern Illinois.
There’s one basketball season left to finish, however.
“My role is to just be strong and try to be a defensive presence,” Wiggins said. “Then, just try to get my layups in.”
Velasquez called Wiggins the ultimate team player.
“West Point is getting a good one in that he brings a lot of energy every time he steps on that floor,” Velasquez said. “That’s what we love.”
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