Wayne Selden signed autographs, posed for pictures and made small talk with dozens of Kansas basketball fans for 75 minutes Saturday afternoon at Kansas Sampler in downtown Lawrence.
The ever-present smile on his face provided proof that the 6-foot-5 former KU shooting guard from Roxbury, Mass., has long forgotten the disappointment of not being selected in the June 23 NBA Draft.
“I don’t know (why I wasn’t picked), but I’m happy. I’m really happy,” the 21-year-old Selden said after his appearance.
He’s spent the last several weeks in Memphis, working out for the Grizzlies, who signed Selden to a non-guaranteed free-agent deal in July.
“I wake up. I’m in the gym four to five hours a day, then go back at night. It’s a pretty ideal life,” Selden said. “I’m there through training camp at least, so I’m happy with the situation.”
Selden, who had to cancel several predraft workouts after undergoing arthroscopic right knee surgery at the conclusion of KU’s 2015-16 season, chose the Grizzlies partly because of their patience regarding his injury.
“Memphis wanted to get my knee better. They wanted me to rehab (and skip summer league). I had to find the best situation for me. I thought that was the best situation,” Selden said, adding, “the knee is fine. I’m cleared to do everything, all activity. I’ve still got to manage it. I’ve got to make sure I do maintenance on it, keep icing it, make sure it’s doing well. It’s great.”
KU fans have wondered if Selden experienced knee discomfort late in his junior season, in which he averaged 13.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game for the 33-5 Jayhawks, who won their 12th straight Big 12 title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.
“Yeah it did (bother me) at times,” Selden said. “I feel it’s a mind-over-matter type thing. It wasn’t a super-agony type injury, just a nagging type deal. I don’t think it hindered me.”
Selden, who wrote a long post on Instagram after signing with Memphis but hadn’t given any post-draft interviews until Saturday, has no regrets about entering the 2016 draft. He could have returned to KU for his senior season.
“I kind of was strong in my decision when I made it. I knew the new rule (being able to attend the NBA Combine yet return to school as long as one hadn’t contracted with an agent), but I was pretty set in what I wanted to do. I am still happy with my decision.”
Selden says KU has a strong roster without him.
“I think they’ve got the best two point guards in the country on the same team,” Selden said of Frank Mason and Devonté Graham. “I may be kind of biased, but I think they are the best. With young guys coming in, with Svi (Mykhailiuk) returning and stuff like that, I think they’ll be the best team in the country.”
Selden, who said he was in Lawrence only for the weekend, said he won’t put any extra pressure on himself as he returns to Memphis trying to impress and ultimately make the roster.
“I’ve just got to go out there and play my type of basketball,” he said.
Selden provided some good news for local high school fans. His brother, Anthony, will remain in Lawrence for his junior season at Lawrence High.
“He’s growing. He’s about my height, getting athletic. He will finish up high school here,” said Selden, who thus promises many return trips.
“It’s been great being back home,” he said.