Nova Scotia teen basketball star most excited for family time at NBA All-Star Weekend
Point guard Lindell Wigginton, 17, is on a basketball scholarship to a top U.S. private school
A 17-year-old basketball player from Dartmouth, N.S., says the highlight of his weekend was seeing his family, despite spending it with some of the world's top players and coaches.
Lindell Wigginton, who also has roots in North Preston and Halifax's Uniacke Square, is one of the best point guards in Canada and leads his team in scoring at a top U.S. private high school.
He's training at the NBA's Basketball Without Borders Global Camp for teens in Toronto during the NBA's All Star Weekend.
That excitement couldn't overshadow the moment he saw his parents for the first time since Christmas, he says, when he "just gave them a hug."
"I like being around my family," Wigginton said.
"I love them."
'Rise to every challenge'
The former Prince Andrew High School student is in his second year at Oak Hill Academy, a Virginia boarding school, where he's doing well academically.
Only in Grade 11, he's being scouted by American universities, including Florida State, Arizona and Boston College, to play National Collegiate Athletic Association college basketball.
He's one of four Canadian teens invited to this weekend's camp with the top teen players from around world — and the only one from the east coast. His former coach Colter Simmonds is up in Toronto, too, for support.
"He has a killer instinct. He doesn't back down from anybody. He wants to rise to every challenge," Simmonds said courtside as Wigginton practiced Saturday.
"I thought he had potential to play in the NCAA since I met him. I saw his athleticism for his age wasn't normal for kids his size."
Simmonds says Wigginton is being considered for this summer's Canadian juniors basketball team.
Wigginton, who is six feet two inches tall and 185 pounds, grew up in a basketball family with four brothers and a sister. His father used to take him to games as a toddler. One brother, Rodell Wigginton, plays with University at Buffalo and another, Derico Wigginton, played for the Halifax Rainmen.
"I just learned from all my brothers," Wigginton said. "I learned from their mistakes and took on what they did great."
'Do it for him'
And on his mind is brother Tyson James Bundy, who died in a car crash five years ago at age 19. Several of Wigginton's social media accounts say R.I.P. Fern, Bundy's nickname.
"We did everything together and just losing him, it kept me focused," Wigginton says. "I just do it for him."
"He'd be really proud of me. He'd probably come see me a lot."
Hard work and dedication
His father Flemming Downey says they're all proud of how humble the teen's remained. Although his parents miss him — those hours before he flies back to school are hard — Downey says they're very happy.
"Once he gets that shot at that dream, he's going to take it to the next level," Downey says.
"He wants to be that one from the community to be successful and show kids you can make it. No matter where you come from, hard work and dedication, it pays off."
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