It is the offseason to talk about Wayne Selden. At least, it is now, after Kansas’ perfect 4-0 start while representing the United States at the World University Games. Selden, a junior guard, has been at the heart of the United States’ run, averaging 20.2 points and 6.8 rebounds while playing an astonishing 35.8 minutes per game over four contests in five days.
But Selden, of course, is worth a closer look for a few reasons:
1. This may be the best stretch of basketball he has played since arriving at Kansas before the 2013-14 season.
2. Selden has been terrific in many of the areas where he was so average during an underwhelming sophomore season.
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Let’s start there: Selden’s low-key average sophomore season was disappointing in a strange sort of way — at least from a statistically standpoint. In his second season as a starter, Selden actually shot well from three-point range (36 percent), answering one persistent question mark. But for much of the year, he dismal at finishing in the paint. Selden shot an astounding 50 percent on shots at the rim, according to Hoop-Math.com, meaning he was about a 50 percent shot to convert on dunks and layups. For the season, he shot 39.5 from two-point range and his offensive rating was 98.0, which translates to well below average for a starting perimeter player on a Kansas team.
Before the tournament, we wrote about Bill Self’s plan to slide Selden over to the wing and play him alongside two smaller guards. (This fall, it will likely be Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham; this month, it’s Mason and SMU guard Nic Moore.) In short, Self believed playing alongside two ballhandlers would free Selden up to focus on other things — attacking from the wing, shooting, defending, rebounds, all the things he does well.
Self’s backcourt roles can be loosely defined, though, and Selden has spent part of the World University Games as the Jayhawks’ secondary ballhandler. So this probably isn’t all about some role change.
But still, after six games — including two exhibitions against Team Canada — the statistical sample is large enough to take seriously. Here’s Selden’s performance in six games.
Yes, you read that right. Counting the Canada games, Selden is averaging 19.3 points and 6.6 rebounds while shooting 62.8 percent from two-point range and 44.1 percent from three. More impressive, perhaps, is that he’s shot this well with so many games crammed into such a short period.
Selden, of course, also did this against Serbia.
It’s important to take everything this summer with some major caveats. Six games is still just six games. This isn’t the Kansas team that will take the floor this upcoming season. And it’s hard to know for certain about the level of competition in South Korea. Chile was the equivalent of a low-major college team, at best, while Turkey and Brazil perhaps compared to solid mid-majors or perhaps a little better. Serbia, on the other hand, might translate to something close to a fringe top-20 to top-25 team, but again, there’s some guess work involved here.
One thing is clear, though: For six games over the last three weeks, Selden has been an efficient and effective scorer. This, more than anything, might be the most encouraging development from this whole World University Games experience.