Jump with me, for a minute, into the mind of Wayne Selden to see why not getting drafted might actually wind up being the best thing that could have happened to the former Jayhawk’s chances at a pro career.
Selden, as you know, has always been the type of player who seemed to perform best when he had something to prove, someone to prove wrong or a chip of any size on either of his shoulders.
Occasionally, things got so heavy during his KU career that Selden found himself carrying rather large chips on both shoulders. Almost without fail, every time that happened, Selden performed his best.
Think about the Kentucky game at home. Think about the entire three weeks the Jayhawks spent in Korea. Think about Selden responding to a sub-par sophomore season with a solid junior year.
Although the former KU guard started 108 of the 109 games Kansas played during his three seasons as a Jayhawk, consistency often was an issue for Selden. He would take us to the mountain top and show elite-level skills, but rarely hang around long enough to enjoy the view and often found himself near the base again, climbing back to the top almost as quickly as he arrived in the first place.
Case in point: Selden responded to his stellar 33-point, 12-of-20 shooting game against Kentucky by hitting for just 10 made field goals in his next four games combined. Rarely did this hurt KU’s chances at victory — a credit to the rest of the talent Bill Self put around Selden — but it did certainly hurt Selden’s chances at becoming a true standout whom NBA teams would want, perhaps even need, to draft.
So here we are, one day after the biggest day of Selden’s life and he’s looking for a team to play for. Sixty picks came and went without Selden hearing his name called on Thursday night, and now, in order to live out his NBA dream, the former KU guard is going to have to go the free agent route, impress a team or two during summer league play and make a roster the hard way.
He must be so happy.
See, Selden has all of the physical tools necessary to play in the NBA. He’s a damn good shooter, he’s got great size, good quickness, he’s strong and he’s athletic. Put him in the right situation and he’s a ready-made rotation guy off the bench.
NBA teams might not know it yet, but, by not drafting him, they did exactly that, as the right situation for Selden is way more dependent upon what’s between his ears than it is the style of play of this team or the personnel of that one.
Today, Selden is pissed. Not just because he didn’t get drafted, but also because of some of the other players who did. Throw out the Europeans because they’re here to stay and college players are just going to have to get used to that group eating up 15-20 of the 60 available draft spots year after year. Heck, it’s already been happening for years.
But there were at least a few players taken near the end of the draft who I know Selden believes he’s better than. Think Iowa State’s Abdel Nader or even his former AAU buddy Georges Niang. Think UConn’s Daniel Hamilton, Oklahoma’s Isaiah Cousins, Carolina’s Marcus Paige or Maryland’s Jake Layman.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Selden respects all of those guys, but I also would bet a pretty penny that he believes he’s better than every one of them.
So to give him that kind of fuel to go along with that undrafted tag seems to be a perfect storm of sorts.
It should be fun to watch him in summer league games this month. I’m guessing we’ll see the Selden that more closely resembles the South Korea version than the one who occasionally disappeared during the other portions of his Kansas career.
I've spent more than my fair share of time being critical of Wayne Selden's game during his first couple of seasons with the Kansas University men's basketball team.
And I stand by everything I've said in the past. But the good thing about the past is that it's always behind you. The present is what matters most, and Selden's present sure looks like a gift for the Jayhawks.
If you've been paying attention at all to what's going on in Korea — whether you've watched the games yourself or read and viewed the fantastic coverage from our own Bobby Nightengale and Mike Yoder — you know that Selden has been tearing it up.
He's averaging 20 points per game, has led the Jayhawks in scoring in three of the four games they've played — all victories — led the team in minutes per game all four times and has looked much more explosive, confident and determined than I ever remember seeing him.
His averages through four games: 1 victory, 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists in 36 minutes.
I still question whether the Selden we're seeing in July will be the same guy we see this winter, mostly because I can't help but think that the competition — and, particularly, the type of athletes he'll see in opposing uniforms — will be drastically different than what he's facing today. But still, just like a team that benefits from playing an easy schedule, all a guy can do is attack the guys who are trying to guard him and Selden has been doing just that.
One of the biggest improvements Selden has made has been near the bucket. He's still not making everything, but he is finishing in close a lot better than he did during last season's colossal struggle and a big reason for that is his aggressive nature. He's not just floating and hoping any more. He's going all the way to the rim and either finishing or drawing the foul. For a guy that size, that's always the right move. And it's often easier said than done. But props to Selden for doing it over and over overseas.
Beyond that, his outside shot — his biggest weapon thus far — has continued to look smooth and put points on the board when the Jayhawks needed them most.
It's not just the numbers that have impressed me. It's the mindset Selden has displayed. My biggest criticism of the guy throughout his career is that he always seemed, to me, to be a more worried about how he looked out there on the court than how he produced. I haven't seen an ounce of that in Korea.
Selden looks tough, is always in attack mode, is carrying himself like a true leader — something KU lacked big time the past two years — and has that presence about him that seems to indicate that he knows nobody can stop him.
So far, he's been correct. And following his lead, the Jayhawks/Team USA are in a real position to challenge for a gold medal that I'm not sure anybody thought was in reach.
Let me start by saying I thought Wayne Selden's announcement — via press release — that he was returning to Kansas University for his junior season was handled perfectly.
Selden, who enjoyed a solid freshman season but took a step back in a few areas as a sophomore, sounded sincere, outlined several good reasons for his return and even addressed how motivated he was by his rough 2014-15 season.
Good on ya.
The problem, though — at least in my eyes and surely many of yours — is that I'm not really sure Selden needed to announce that he was returning in the first place.
The stay-or-go question posed to Selden after his freshman season was legitimate given his recruiting ranking, his productive season and the inevitable departure of his then-teammates Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. But that same question was not really on the minds of those who follow KU basketball this time around.
Selden has talent. He has good size, can shoot the ball, is a terrific passer and has been trustworthy enough in the eyes of Bill Self to average roughly 30 minutes per game during his first two seasons as a Jayhawk. That last part is no small feat.
But I've often wondered what's driving Selden as a college athlete, and Friday's announcement only added to my curiosity.
To me, it seems Selden spends too much time worrying about his image — how he looks when he plays, how he's perceived in the eyes of all kinds of people and how he's talked about as a prospect. If he worried as much about consistently playing hard as he did about looking hard, I think he could become a serious impact guy and a future pro.
As it stands, he's been a pretty good college player and may very well be on his way to becoming a four-year player. Remember when that wasn't a bad thing?
Taking this a step further, this whole thing seems to be a cultural problem, though, not just a Selden problem.
So many college players these days, talented and otherwise, seem to feel like they're missing out or falling behind their peers — or, worse yet, the high school guys coming behind them — if they're not constantly thrusting themselves into the national conversation or following the ever-growing trend of self promotion that has turned college basketball into a spectacle at which even Hollywood would blush.
On the handful of 2015 NBA mock drafts I searched, Selden was listed on just one — and that was as a late second-round pick. No way that guy's going to jump to the NBA unless there were some extenuating circumstances that would make such a move necessary. With Selden there are none, which made his return to KU not only the right move but also the obvious one.
No need to announce it. No need to give it a second thought. Just get into the gym and go to work. Maybe doing that will make the question relevant again next year.
Regardless of how it was announced or whether it even needed to be, at least Selden made the right move and didn't allow outside influences or his own ego to send him down the wrong path.
That's something. And it should be very interesting to see what the Wayne Selden Experience 3.0 looks like.
Wayne Selden By The Numbers
2013-14: 9.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.5 apg, 53% 2pt, 36% 3pt, 25 steals, 66 turnovers
2014-15: 9.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.8 apg, 39% 2pt, 37% 3pt, 21 steals, 70 turnovers
It's a play that everyone was talking about (and probably still is) and one of the finest displays of all-out hustle I've ever seen in person.
So why not take another look (or 10) back at the spectacular save made by KU freshman Wayne Selden during Monday's 78-68 victory over Baylor at Allen Fieldhouse.
Sure, it appears that Selden may have stepped on the line before making the save. But it wasn't called, it still goes down as a fantastic effort and even the Baylor players were not bent out of shape about the no-call following the loss.
Here's the video replay of the SportsCenter play of the night, along with a detailed description of everything that went into the save from our own Tom Keegan.