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Lindell Wigginton stayed active during his long COVID break from basketball action.
The Dartmouth native worked hard with his local trainer Brendan Brown, played in the Israeli Premier League in July and attended the Minnesota Timberwolves bubble-camp.
Those experiences were great, said Wigginton, but it is live game action that he craves.
On Wednesday, he will get that opportunity when the NBA’s G League returns to play with a bubble season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney Resort near Orlando, Fla.
The 22-year-old is in his second year as a guard for the Iowa Wolves, the affiliate team of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves play the Long Island Nets (8 p.m. AT) on Wednesday’s opening day.
“I’ve been off for a long, long while. I’m looking forward to getting back to competing,” said Wigginton. “Getting back with my guys, just trying to go out there and win some games and be the best we can be.”
Wigginton has been in the Wolves’ camp for three weeks and said the bubble environment is a great way to reconnect with his teammates as they prepare for a truncated season that will consist of 15 games.
“It’s been great for a connection with your guys because you are always around them and just being here in Orlando with the great weather.
“We’re getting our minds right, getting our bodies right and connecting as a group.”
He will miss playing in front of fans at Des Moine’s Wells Fargo Arena but is grateful to be playing professional basketball with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging around the world.
“It’s an unfortunate situation that we all have to be in because we can’t be in our hometown, but it’s still a great opportunity,” said Wigginton. “They could have not had a season and we could have been stuck with not playing basketball. We’re very fortunate for this and very fortunate being able to play.”
The six-foot-one guard out of Iowa State put up solid numbers in his rookie pro season last year. In 42 games, Wigginton averaged 15.3 points, 3.9 assists and 3.8 rebounds.
He played 27 minutes per game, mostly coming off the bench last season. Wigginton said he is ready for whatever role coach Sam Newman-Beck has for him this season.
“It doesn’t matter to me if I start or come off the bench,” said Wigginton. “I’m just going to do my role, be a leader, be the best player, person, teammate I can be.
“I have a really big role with my team this year. Being a second-year guy, I have a leadership role. I’m going to take that challenge and go out there and be the best I can be.”
Wigginton is ready for the challenge of leadership and he recognizes that it starts with his own game.
“I have to be a vocal guy, be in the right spots,” he said. “Make sure I’m holding myself and my guys accountable. For me, I have to go out there and be consistent and be the best player I can be. I know I can score the ball, get my teammates the ball and be a big impact on the defensive end. So I just gotta go out there and show it, night in and night out.
“My mentality going into my second year has changed a lot. I know what it takes now. I just have to go out and show it.”
Game vs. Nate
On Feb. 18, the Wolves will play the Greensboro Swarm. The matchup will pit Wigginton against Bedford's Nate Darling, his training buddy and former Team Canada teammate.
Wigginton said the game featuring Nova Scotia’s top two basketball players will be fun.
“He’s my guy, my friend for a long time,” said Wigginton of Darling, his teammate on Canada’s gold-medal winning 2017 FIBA Under-19 World Cup team.
“We see each other every day. It’s going to be fun to go up against him. Put Nova Scotia on the map. Hopefully, we’re setting good examples for the youth here and being good role models in our cities.”
Wigginton’s ultimate goal is to play in the NBA, but is aware that his improvement in the G League will be one of the main deciding factors.
“I see everything as a learning experience. Last year I got my feet wet with how the league is and now I feel the pressure has been relieved a little bit because I know the game. I know what my role is coming in, so I just have to go out there and do it. I don’t really feel too much pressure.
“I’m just going to focus on me, my teammates and try and get better. And whatever comes with it, comes with it.
“Obviously, you want a bigger taste. I think we’re hungry to go out there and show what we can do and show that we can play at the next level too. I think it’s a lot about opportunity and timing. Whenever that time is, I will be ready for sure.”