The first week of college is supposed to be a little scary. New classes. Sprawling campus. The introduction to something called a syllabus.
Wayne Selden says he noticed his KU summer classes were a little longer than the 45-minute periods at The Tilton School, his prep school in New Hampshire. But for Selden, a 6-foot-4 freshman guard, that was about the extent of his early surprises.
Selden also spent Thursday — his sixth day on campus — answering questions in Allen Fieldhouse in a brief interview session. And it only took a few moments before Selden was asked about an idea that’s circulated throughout Kansas for the last month or so. Is Selden’s six-man freshman class — including No. 1 overall recruit Andrew Wiggins — the most talented class in KU history?
“We haven’t done anything yet,” Selden said calmly. “So we can’t buy into that.”
This is college life for the baby Jayhawks, the highly touted freshman class that reported to campus over the weekend for the beginning of summer classes.
Wiggins is the notable exception. He’s still sorting through his summer schedule, and is expected to arrive in Lawrence later.
But for now, Selden and the rest of the newcomers are trying to use the summertime to bond.
“We’re just trying to come together as a team,” Selden said. “With the new guys, and the older guys, and make it one team.”
That goal comes with a few obvious challenges. Start with the five starters that exited off last season’s team or the fact that the newcomers, even without Wiggins, nearly outnumber the holdovers. In addition to Selden, freshmen center Joel Embiid and guards Brannen Greene, Conner Frankamp and Frank Mason have reported to campus.
The infusion of youth, of course, leaves a leadership gap. And Selden said junior guard Naadir Tharpe had already stepped into a veteran role.
“Naadir is being a great leader,” Selden said. “And all the returning guys have been great leaders. But Naadir has set himself apart.
KU coach Bill Self hopes that the young Jayhawks can also learn something from Memphis transfer Tarik Black, a 6-foot-9 graduate transfer who has arrived for his only season in Lawrence.
After a week on campus, Black says he’s not trying to force the leadership role. It’s early, and with the June schedule being limited to strength and conditioning sessions and scrimmages, there are only a few chances to make an impact.
“Leadership is not something that’s given to you,” Black said. “It’s a quality that you possess, but you also have to earn your keep. So right now, early on, I’ll just speak up when I can. I’ll speak up when something comes to mind.”
After three years at Memphis, Black says he was ready for the opportunity presented by Self and Kansas. He enjoyed the idea of being KU’s latest big-man project, and after a few days on campus, he was even starting to feel at home in Lawrence.
“Lawrence is a smaller version (of Memphis),” Black said. “There’s really no difference.”
Black is also starting to get acclimated to his new teammates, and after a few scrimmages, he was already impressed with the Jayhawks’ young stable of talent.
“We have a very talented team,” Black said. “We’re young, but we’re so talented. And Andrew Wiggins hasn’t even gotten here yet. Even without him being here, I see it as being one of the top teams in the country.
“Because I’ve played top teams in the country. I understand what the talent is like on those teams. And we possess that. We just have to mature.”