This time last year, it was all speculation on what Wayne Selden Jr. would do. Would he head for the draft or return for his junior season? After tense and questionable times, Selden decided to put his draft dreams on hold to come back for his third season with the Jayhawks. And it turned out to be the best decision he could have made.
2014-15 wasn’t exactly a stellar sophomore year for Mr. Selden, as he battled inconsistency issues throughout the year. In Wayne’s freshman year, he averaged only 9.7 points per game. To make it worse, in his sophomore year, that mark lowered to 9.4. For those that struggle in math, that is a third of point worse than what he mustered in his freshman year. It was not exactly an easy or unbelievable ride for Selden, but the overall journey will be something that Jayhawk fans remember for life.
You might remember when Bill Self was recruiting the 6’5″ shooting guard. Many Jayhawk fans were salivating at the thought of Wayne Selden Jr. joining the Jayhawks for the 2013-14 season. He was a five-star prospect, a top-15 recruit in nearly every ranking system, yet flew under the radar due to Kansas’ massive incoming high school class. It was hard not to like Selden, who boasted unbelievable athleticism and an impressive wingspan. This isn’t even mentioning his knack for big-time dunks, which carried through his college days. After being shadowed by Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre in his first two seasons, Selden broke out in year three to quiet the doubters, putting up big numbers in several contests.
For months, he was overshadowed behind other players. At some point, he was so lost that he was a total non-factor on the court in big games. In his first two seasons, Selden scored a combined 10 points in his four career NCAA tournament games. He was 4/21 from the field. Finally, Selden pushed his inconsistencies aside by breaking out with a huge 2015-16 nonconference slate, averaging 15 points per game in the season’s first two months.
He had finally hit his groove. It was Wayne Selden’s time to shine, and no one could tell him differently. It is impossible to describe the magnitude of his January 30 performance, as he arrived on the national stage against the biggest of opponents. Wayne rocked the Allen Fieldhouse crowd, putting up a career-high 33 points in a 90-84 overtime victory.
However, immediately following his legendary showing against the Wildcats, Selden’s numbers regressed, and the inconsistencies that plagued him for the first two years of his career re-appeared. Selden put up a nice performance against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, where he scored 18 points, but it was never a game where the Jayhawks faced the threat of losing. You could see flashes of the true Selden, as he managed to seemingly alternate between hot and cold shooting performances.
It wasn’t until the NCAAs when Selden finally kicked it into third gear.
After dropping 14 points against Austin Peay in KU’s tournament opener, Selden lead the way for the Jayhawks in the Round of 32, scoring a game-high 22 against UConn. He went on to score 19 against the Terrapins of Maryland in the Sweet Sixteen, and another 16 in the heartbreaking loss to Villanova in the Elite 8 with a trip to Houston on the line. Not bad for a guy who had averaged 2.5 points per game in his first two NCAA tournaments.
Fans could always look at Wayne Selden and see big things. Yes, his eyes are pretty cool, but Selden did more than just show his features. He became a Kansas leader, and in the process, became a pioneer in the “one-and-done” era.
As Wayne Selden arrived at the doorstep of Allen Fieldhouse, many speculated that it would be a maximum of two seasons for the supposed “one-and-done” freshman. He stuck it through and built many memories at the same time. The Roxbury, Massachusetts native proved them wrong, sticking through three incredible seasons under Coach Self. Alongside Perry Ellis, Andrew Wiggins, and even Joel Embiid, Selden was a superstar of his own. Of the many Kansas greats to walk the halls of Allen Fieldhouse, Wayne Selden etched his name and proved that he belonged. He departs the program as the No. 37 all-time scorer in Jayhawk basketball history. He finishes his career with a home record of 45-1. He won three Big 12 regular-season titles and a gold medal in last summer’s World Games to go along with second-team All Big 12 honors this year. He even proved to America’s youth that it is not about rushing to the pros, but more about maturing before taking that big step. Selden did in fact mature, and his ability to guide a team through a daunting schedule for all three seasons of his career would serve him well in college, and it will do him good when he gets to the NBA.
Despite some experts saying he is overrated, all fans must respect what Wayne Selden did for Kansas. From the monster dunks that made fans scream to the clutch shots that sealed the deal, Wayne Selden, was in fact, for real.