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Hoop star Lindell Wigginton fuelled by Nova Scotia upbringing

It's hard to know how far the six-foot-one point guard could go in basketball. He's only just scratching the surface of his abundant talents.
After one season at Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth, Lindell Wigginton headed to powerhouse Oak Hill Academy in Virginia to advance his NCAA and professional prospects. (Courtesy of Oak Hill Academy)

It's hard to know how far guard Lindell Wigginton could go in basketball.

He's just scratching the surface of his abundant talents. The NCAA is in the bag, starting this fall with the Iowa State Cyclones, and the NBA could easily follow.

A student at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, Wigginton's Nova Scotia home and family are always kept close to his heart.

His roots are in Halifax's Uniacke Square and North Preston. He played at Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth. And he is inspired by the memory of an older brother who didn't get to see him become a young superstar.

After one season at Prince Andrew, Wigginton headed to powerhouse Oak Hill to advance his NCAA and professional prospects.

He didn't disappoint.

Rated the 48th-best prospect by ESPN for the 2017 NCAA entry class, Wigginton, still 18, had his pick of landing spots for his college career. Arizona State and Oregon were hard on his heels.

And why not? The six-foot-one Wigginton, part of a national championship team at Oak Hill, is a high-scoring point guard with a flair for the transition game. He doesn't lose any marks for his ability to distribute and score in the half court.

Lindell2'It was tough leaving my family and just going to a different country not knowing what to expect. I felt like I had to do it. I felt like I would be more focused here (at Oak Hill).' (Courtesy of Oak Hill Academy)

It made news in Iowa, and across U.S. college basketball, when Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm landed Wigginton for his Cyclones in October. Prohm paid a visit to Wigginton at Oak Hill a month earlier to make his best pitch.

"It was really exciting just getting everything off my back," Wigginton said in a recent interview. "I committed to a college where I know I can go and play right away with a coach that trusts me. I trust him, too. That's why I chose Iowa State."

Iowa State, a member of the Big 12 Conference, has made eight appearances in the NCAA tournament since 2000.

Something special happened when Wigginton visited the school of 30,000 in Ames.

"It just felt like home. I watched their practice and I knew I fit their style of play. I really wanted to go there. And they have a senior guard (all-star Monte Morris) that's leaving, so I can come in and fill in his footsteps right away."

Oak Hill has been a spawning ground for a who's who of NBA talent. Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Rajon Rondo are just a sampling.

"That's definitely my goal," said Wigginton. "I want to get to the NBA and provide for my family."

Family is a big part of the story. Brother Rodell played in two NCAA tournaments for the Buffalo Bulls. Brother Derico played for the Halifax Rainmen.

He wants to win more recognition for basketball in the Halifax area and Nova Scotia in general.

"I just feel like I'm the next one — for the city, for where I come from. I just want to give other people from back home a chance to get the recognition. I want to be the best I can be and have people mention my name. Hopefully other people can get Division I scholarships because of it."

Leaving home at 15 wasn't easy, but that was a choice he had to make to follow his hoop dreams. He was concerned with some of the troubles that were plaguing his community.   

"It was tough leaving my family and just going to a different country not knowing what to expect. I felt like I had to do it. I felt like I would be more focused here (at Oak Hill).

"Home was kind of a distraction with all the violence and everything going on. I just wanted to come here and make a name for myself and that's what I'm doing now."

He was unconcerned for himself and wasn't drawn to the streets. "I have a strong mind," he said. "I just don't want all that negativity around me."

It's hardly something that's in the past. A spate of violence in metro earlier this year touched him directly.

"Everybody that's dying, I know all those people," he said.

Playing for Oak Hill means big pressure. It only goes up from here.

"I'm not really nervous going into any situation, not coming from where I'm from," he said. "Not too many people get this kind of opportunity where I'm from. So I just fuel off of it."

Behind all of it is memories of older brother Tyson Bundy. For Wigginton, he'll always be Fern, which was Bundy's nickname.

"That's my motivation," Wigginton said of Bundy, who died in a car accident in 2010 at the age of 19.

"I was always with him every day. We'd go to the basketball courts and just hang out. He was my rock. We always stuck together. I do everything for him."

Wigginton helped Canada qualify for this summer's world under-19 championships. He hopes to compete in the worlds in Egypt if it doesn't conflict with obligations at Iowa State, where he will go for the summer semester in June.