Waiting for an NCAA ruling regarding her son’s future proved excruciating at times for Josh Selby’s mom, Maeshon Witherspoon.
“Imagine this if you can: It was like being in labor,” Witherspoon said Saturday, a day after college’s governing body finally acted on Selby’s amateur status.
The long-awaited verdict — which was revealed after Kansas University’s 93-60 rout of North Texas — has the freshman point guard from Baltimore sitting six additional games (nine total) for accepting impermissible benefits prior to his signing an athletics-aid agreement at KU.
The benefits, provided by long-time family friend Robert Frazier, include clothes, transportation, meals and lodging for Selby and his family. The university and NCAA determined the value of these benefits is $4,607.58. Selby must now pay that money to a charity of his choice.
“When coach (Bill) Self called before the game, I let out a sigh — as in a sigh of relief. I think it was both relief and happiness, relief more than happiness, though,” Witherspoon said in a phone interview.
Witherspoon — she and her son both cooperated in speaking with NCAA officials during the investigation — was asked to offer her opinion of the organization.
“I have no feelings for the NCAA. I don’t think it’s good or bad. I don’t have any feelings,” Witherspoon said. “The NCAA ... I understand it has its rules. (But) I wish there was a way to educate kids and parents on the do’s and don’ts.
“I’m glad I’m the parent who went through this. We have a lot of players in the Baltimore area. I can share this with those families. It is my duty to educate people in the area, and I plan on doing that in the future.”
She praised Frazier (Carmelo Anthony’s business manager) for his role in mentoring her son the past seven years — since Josh became an AAU teammate of Frazier’s son.
“Robert Frazier is not going anywhere. I’ve known him my entire life,” said Witherspoon, who said she had known him since grade school. Though she said she lost contact with him in middle school, they reunited seven years ago, before she was “bombarded” with calls from agents and college recruiters the past couple of years.
“Mr. Frazier is a great guy. He’s like my brother,” Witherspoon said. “We don’t just talk about basketball, but life. He is not just an adviser, he is family.
“If not for Mr. Frazier, Josh would not be in college. The amount of calls I was getting from agents with my financial situation (as a single mother working different jobs) ... everybody suffering from the recession ... the offers from Europe ... Mr. Frazier advised us and said overseas is not worth it. Look at the great experience Carmelo Anthony had (one year at Syracuse).
“Roles change in life. When I started getting bombarded with calls, his role changed.”
Witherspoon said there was a preliminary plan to pay the $4,607.58 to charity.
“My understanding is it does not have to be paid all at once,” she said. “My family ... we come together. It’s been said ‘It takes a village’ to raise a child. We’ll come together and do whatever it takes.”
A lucky charity or two will receive quite a donation from Josh and his mom.
“I have no idea which charity Josh will choose,” Maeshon said. “I hope he picks cancer (research) as his charity. We have had several family members (suffer from) that horrible (disease). It affects people in all walks of life.”
Witherspoon said above all, she’s thankful Selby will make his collegiate debut Dec. 18 against Southern California in Allen Fieldhouse.
“I am thankful my son will now be able to achieve a dream of playing college basketball,” Witherspoon said. “He came to Kansas to be a student-athlete. He is working hard as a student right now and now will get to play college basketball and show the fans the kind of player he is.”
Witherspoon says she is appreciative of the fans who chanted, “We Want Selby” during Friday’s rout.
“I was not at the game, but I was told how the fans acted,” she said. “I appreciate the fans letting Josh know they will support him whether he’s playing or not.”
Recruiting note: Ben McLemore, a 6-foot-5 senior guard from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., did not orally commit to either KU or Missouri on Saturday. McLemore’s uncle said a family meeting would likely be held today. McLemore is back in his hometown of St. Louis for Thanksgiving break.