The Star's blog on college sports, featuring Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri
What Wayne Selden's return means for KU
03/25/2014 6:16 PM
03/25/2014 6:16 PM
This is not a surprise. Not to Kansas coach Bill Self. Not to the rest of the KU staff. Not to those that grade and scout NBA Draft prospects. Kansas freshman guard Wayne Selden announced Tuesday that he will return for his sophomore season, and for a freshman wing who averaged 9.7 points and shot 43 percent, that sounds about right. Selden probably would have been a fringe first-round pick had he opted to leave school after one season. Maybe he could have climbed draft boards with some impressive workouts. He also could have fallen ever further. Instead, he decided to return. It could benefit him — and Kansas. Selden was a McDonald’s All-American guard out of the Tilton School in New Hampshire; the 12th best recruit in the country, according to Rivals.com. He was 6 feet 5 and 225 pounds when he left high school, and when he arrived on campus last summer, Self said Selden had a “man’s body.” The only question: How long would he be staying? Unlike fellow freshman Andrew Wiggins, he was not a lock to be a one-and-done player. But his stock soared last summer when he starred at the Adidas Nations summer showcase camp. Playing alongside some of the best college players in the country, Selden stood out. Suddenly, he was appearing on mock drafts and preseason watch lists. The Selden buzz began to heat up. Selden never came close to matching some of that early buzz during his freshman campaign, but overall, his freshman numbers were very respectable. He averaged nearly double-figures on a KU team that won its 10th straight Big 12 title. And at times, he was no better than the fourth offensive option behind Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Perry Ellis. He finished with 340 points on the year, just 14 shy of what Sherron Collins scored during his freshman season. In other ways, though, it was clear Selden was not a complete player. He shot just 33 percent from three-point range. He had just 25 steals while recording 66 turnovers. He wasn’t always comfortable leading the break or making plays off the dribble; his on-the ball defense could use some work, too. This, of course, is why freshmen usually become sophomores. Now, Selden can settle in and work on those areas of his game. His size and skill-set still make him an intriguing pro prospect. But Self also believes Selden could grow into one of the best on-court leaders he’s had during his 11 years at Kansas. “He’ll be one of the better leaders we’ve had at KU if he’s in school long enough,” Self said in late February. “Because he gets it. He gets it. “Wayne’s not scared of his voice.” Selden also once did this:
The decision to return also provides some stability to a Kansas roster that had to replace all five starters this past season. Senior forward Tarik Black is gone, Wiggins is a lock to enter the NBA Draft, and Embiid has a decision to make. Even still, Self should return the bulk of the roster from his latest Big 12 title team. Here’s a first look at next year’s squad (leaving Embiid out of the equation): Returning starters • Naadir Tharpe, senior guard • Wayne Selden, sophomore guard • Perry Ellis, junior forward Other backcourt players: • Frank Mason, sophomore guard • Conner Frankamp, sophomore guard • Brannen Greene, sophomore guard • Andrew White, junior guard • Kelly Oubre, freshman guard Other frontcourt players: • Jamari Traylor, junior forward • Landen Lucas, sophomore forward • Hunter Mickelson, junior forward • Cliff Alexander, freshman forward Kansas has already signed two players in the 2014 class, 6-8 power forward Cliff Alexander and 6-7 wing Kelly Oubre, both McDonald’s All-Americans. Hunter Mickelson, a transfer from Arkansas, will be eligible after sitting out this season. And if Embiid leaves for the draft, that would open up another scholarship. The Jayhawks are still chasing Myles Turner, a 6-11 center from Euless, Texas. There is, of course, always the possibility of defections via transfer. For now, the Jayhawks are returning six scholarship perimeters players — and adding Oubre to the picture. The backcourt is crowded … and Self is unlikely to stretch his backcourt rotation beyond five players. For some, the minutes will be scarce. One player that won’t have to worry about playing time, though, is Wayne Selden. With Wiggins gone, there should be more shots available and more opportunities in the offense. If he can tighten up his ball-handling and defense, he could be poised to make a significant jump.