On Friday night, Wayne Selden sat behind the Kansas bench at Allen Fieldhouse as the KU basketball team ushered in another season at Late Night in the Phog. Whatever doubts or questions Selden had about his future, they all washed away after a night in the fieldhouse and a weekend in Lawrence.
Selden, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound shooting guard from the Tilton School in New Hampshire, committed to play at Kansas on Monday, just a day or so after concluding his visit. The news, confirmed on Monday by Tilton coach Marcus O’Neil, signals a major recruiting hit for the Jayhawks and Bill Self.
Selden, rated as the No. 23 overall player in Rivals’ 2013 class, is the third top-30 backcourt player to sign on with the Jayhawks in the class of 2013. And after two years of some near misses on the recruiting trail, Self is now positioned to piece together one of his strongest classes in years.
Selden joins a group that includes Wichita guard Conner Frankamp (No. 28 overall, according to Rivals) and swingman Brannen Greene (No. 22) of Forsyth, Ga. Last week, Self also landed a commitment from Frank Mason, a point guard at Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Va.
For Selden, the choice to attend Kansas hinged on the program’s tradition of success and the relationship his family developed with the KU staff.
"It just felt like the right place for me,” Selden said following his visit. “Coach Self has a record that speaks for itself. Kansas is an elite program with a long tradition.”
Selden chose Kansas over a list of schools that reportedly included, at one point, Florida, Ohio State, UCLA, Missouri and Syracuse.
Earlier this year, Rivals ranked Selden as one of the most physical players in the class of 2013. The general view, among recruiting analysts, is that Selden can play multiple guard positions.
“When I look at Selden, I kind of look at him as a designated athlete in the backcourt,” said Eric Bossi, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. “He handles the ball really well. In fact, I think he’s at his best playing in the pick-and-roll and accepting ball screens.
“If you watch Kansas, you know that there may not be another program in the country that runs as much ball-screen action as Kansas does. So, he’s an incredible fit from that standpoint.”
Selden, who grew up in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, was originally a member of the 2013 class. But that changed when he transferred to Tilton and reclassified as a member of the 2014 class two years ago. This past summer, he reversed course again and moved back into his initial class. It’s a similar move to the one made by his former prep and AAU teammate, Nerlens Noel, a top-rated center who moved up to the 2012 class and signed with Kentucky this past year.
O'Neil, Selden's coach at Tilton, described him as a "gifted athlete with a rare combination of strength and speed."
“He is also very explosive, smart and skilled," O'Neil said. "He makes plays as a passer, shooter and driver. We've had some great players at Tilton, and Wayne is right at the top of the list."
With four commitments now in the fold, KU is perhaps in line to make a run at a big man or two to fill out the class. This past weekend, KU also played host to Aaron Gordon, a 6-foot-8 forward from San Jose, Calif., and Joel Embiid, a 7-footer from Gainesville, Fla. Following his visit, Embiid told Rivals.com that Kansas had moved to the top of his list. Kansas is also still pursuing Julius Randle, a 6-foot-9 power forward who grades out as Rivals’ No. 1 overall player.
For now, based on its current roster, KU would have five open scholarships for next season. The Jayhawks will lose four seniors this spring, and the summer departure of freshman guard Milton Doyle opens up a fifth scholarship.