To say Josh Selby had a roller coaster freshman season at Kansas would be like saying Jennifer Lopez has an okay body; a gross understatement. Still, the Jayhawks combo guard chose to leave Lawrence after one season and embark a NBA career that is filled with more question marks than the Riddler‘s costume. As the NBA Draft draws near, Selby is ready to put his brief collegiate career in the rear view mirror.
By: David Kay
Selby entered Kansas as one of the top recruits in the country this past season. But before his college career could even get underway, it was marred by off-the-court issues regarding his eligibility. The NCAA ended up suspending Selby for the first nine regular-season games for accepting impermissible benefits that included clothes, transportation, meals, and lodging reportedly from a NBA business manager.
“I had the nine-game suspension, that was a frustrating part,” Selby admitted at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.
Selby served his suspension and certainly did not disappoint in his much anticipated debut against USC, coming off the bench to score a team-high 21 points in a tight tw0-point victory against the Trojans. The 6’3″ guard continued to play well into early February until he suffered a setback.
“Everything was going good until I got that injury, the stress reaction in my right foot, so I was done for quite a bit. I never could back in a rhythm,” Selby stated.
From there, the frustration mounted as his playing time drastically decreased from what is had been pre-injury. As a result, his production and confidence took a major hit as he averaged just 3.8 points during KU’s final thirteen games of the season and was pretty much a non-factor in their NCAA Tournament run. That was a far cry from the lofty expectations that were thrust upon him. It also turned Selby from a one-time surefire NBA Draft lottery pick into someone who was being projected as a second round prospect once the college hoops season concluded.
“The year at Kansas hurt me quite a bit,” Selby said. “My stock fell. I was a disappointment to the fans. I didn’t participate how I was supposed to.”
Still, Selby left Lawrence to work out in Las Vegas and decided to ultimately enter the NBA Draft despite the majority of “experts” thinking he needed another year at Kansas. Now, he faces the challenge of putting that disappointing year with Jayhawks behind him. “Me coming to the draft, I’m just trying to show them I’m back to my old self,” Selby said with confidence. “That wasn’t the real me at Kansas.”
Based on his recent workouts, the real Selby has returned as he has suddenly emerged as one of the sleepers of this year’s draft class, and appears in the first round of just about every credible mock draft out there with some having him going as high as the mid-teens. Scouts have been particularly impressed with his quickness of the dribble and his 42 inch vertical which was the highest leap of any prospect at the combine.
Selby told me that those individual workouts are very important for his draft stock. “All these other guys have a slight advantage above me because they had great college careers and I didn’t have a good college career. I have to come out here and give it my all, and show guys I’m ready to compete at this type of level.”
Questions arise about what position Selby will play at the next level. Some concerns are that he is an under-sized two who will have to learn the point guard position to reach his full potential. “I’m working on being a pro point guard,” Selby stated. “I’m listed as a combo which I don’t disagree with because right now I have a scorer’s mentality… The only disadvantage is that I’m 6’3″ and nowadays you have shooting guards who are 6’6″, 6’7″. You got to stick D-Wade so it’s both.”
Selby said he had around ten interviews with NBA teams at the combine including the Pistons and Wizards. Washington would be a homecoming off sorts for Selby who grew up in Baltimore as did his favorite basketball player, Carmelo Anthony. “He just mentored me,” Selby said of his relationship with ‘Melo. “Told me to stay focused, work hard, and everything will be fine. It’s a clean slate for me now.”
And that is what Selby must continue to prove in the weeks leading up to the draft. That his days at Kansas are in the past and he can return to being an elite player. “It’s nerve-wrecking. I never thought I’d be in this opportunity. Working out for the NBA, meeting with the GM’s, getting interviewed by you guys. Right now, I just feel blessed.”