Big 12 Sports Articles

Wayne Selden Jr. Poised for a Breakout Season

Wayne Selden Jr. has been an interesting, sometimes frustrating, and occasionally spectacular player in his first two seasons at KU.

As an incoming freshman, Selden was part of a 2013 recruiting class that included two top five NBA draft picks: first overall pick and up-and-coming NBA star Andrew Wiggins and third overall pick Joel Embiid (who is unfortunately missing his second straight season in the NBA due to injury). Also in the class were transfer guard Connor Frankamp, shooting guard Brannen Greene, and starting point guard Frank Mason.

Going into the 2013-14 season, Selden was projected as a likely one-and-done player. A 6’5 and 225 lb, 5-star coming out of high school, Selden immediately had an NBA ready frame which many scouts were drawn to. Coach Bill Self told reporters about how Selden was the hardest working player he had ever seen coming into his freshman year, which is major praise from a guy like Self who prides his players on being tough. Once his freshman year started, it was clear that Wayne Selden would be a regular starter at guard for the Jayhawks.

In his first year, Selden saw mixed results. He struggled with ball handling and seemed to play too fast at times, which would lead to turnovers. He also struggled from the perimeter, as he shot .328% from beyond the arc. That being said, he showed the ability to drive the ball to the basket and improved his defense throughout the year. He also ended up averaging 9.7 points per game, which is not bad at all, especially for a freshman.

Last year, Selden was coming into his sophomore year at KU and expectations were high. One of the main developments that Selden talked about heading into the season was his improved outside shot. This proved to be significant throughout the year as he shot .365% from three, a nice increase from his freshman campaign. Selden also continued to play solid defense throughout the year and just like his freshman year, earned major minutes as a starter. The problem though is that, once again, Selden struggled with consistency. Although he occasionally showed the ability to dominate games (scoring 20+ points on teams like Baylor, Iowa State and Florida), Selden still struggled with ball handling, finishing shots in the lane and playing a notch too fast in the offense. Overall, even though there were some shining moments throughout the season, it was not a great or drastic improvement in play from his freshman year as he had a worse FG% (.382% compared to .437%) and more turnovers as a sophomore. Fans were often frustrated with Selden, who went multiple games in a row without scoring double figures (6 times) last season, with the longest span being 7 games.

Very few things in the world of college basketball are more fun than watching a player develop from a struggling freshman into a star. This is something that is understood in Lawrence, Kansas better than just about anywhere. Coach Bill Self has an amazing ability to turn decent players into solid contributors, and good players into stars. This has been seen time and time again at KU. Former players like Cole Aldrich, Jeff Withey, Thomas Robinson, the Morris twins and Tyshawn Taylor are all examples of what a few years under Bill Self can do for a player. This leaves many to believe that Selden, now heading into his junior season at Kansas, has the ability to have a breakout year in a big way.

When Bill Self was given the opportunity to have KU (minus non-US born Cheick Diallo and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, and instead with SMU’s Nic Moore and FGCU’s Julian DeBose) play in the World University Games, he very happily took it. Playing in the games would allow KU to have some extra playing time against legitimate competition, which is something that most teams are unable to find in the summer.

Even more fortunate for Self and Kansas was the way that Wayne Selden played in the World University Games. Selden went on an absolute rampage, scoring 19.3 points per game and oozing confidence throughout the entire tournament. He was later voted the tournament’s best player. This is the version of Wayne Selden that fans caught glimpses of in years past… a confident, powerful, slashing, and most importantly, consistent player. Selden scored 19, 23, 18, 21, 16, 13, 22 and 22 in eight games. Now that’s the type of consistency and domination that KU fans could get used to seeing.

Overall, the World University Games don’t count for anything and the season is still months away, but the writing on the wall is starting to be seen for what Wayne Selden can become while at KU. Look for Selden to be a more confident and consistent player in 2015, and don’t be surprised if a breakout season is in store.

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