KU Men's Basketball 2010-2011: The Importance of Josh Selby (Selby cleared to play starting December 18th!)
Rivals.com's #1 player for 2010 is a Jayhawk
In the late signing period, the Kansas Jayhawks landed the player they needed when they signed Josh Selby, Rivals.com’s #1 high school player, to a national letter of intent. Kansas coach Bill Self compared signing Selby to “hitting one out of the park.” Josh Selby’s talent remains unquestioned as the 6’3” senior averaged 32 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals per game for Lake Clifton High School in Baltimore. He can drive the ball, has a good jump shot, and is said to be a good defender. His task as a Jayhawk will be to replace the player with the most wins in KU history: the graduated Sherron Collins. Can Selby replace one of the most successful, celebrated Jayhawks of all time? Based upon the company he keeps, the answer is yes. Rival.com’s top players in years past have included John Wall, Michael Beasley, Greg Oden, Dwight Howard and LeBron James. Demonstrating that nothing is certain in the world of sports, Rivals.com also picked B.J. Mullens and Gerald Green as their top high school players in 2008 and 2005, respectively. It must also be noted that from this list of players, only Greg Oden ever played in the NCAA championship game. That fact is somewhat misleading, however, since three players from this list went directly to the NBA. It does suggest that lofty credentials guarantee nothing.
There is great optimism on Mt. Oread for the 2010-2011 season, and most of it originates with Selby. Josh Selby will certainly play and contribute, but what will his role with the Jayhawks actually be? To answer this question, it is important to look at KU’s other backcourt players.
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What to look for in the 2010-2011 season
KU returns a wealth of backcourt talent, although questions remain. Junior Tyshawn Taylor is the most experienced returning guard, logging major minutes as a freshman starter and splitting time in the lineup with Brady Morningstar during his sophomore campaign. Taylor is a good college player, but not yet a great one—he makes too many unforced errors and possesses a marginal outside shot. He is athletically gifted and gets points driving to the basket. Despite his flaws, he can play either guard spot with some success, making him the type of guard coach Bill Self favors.
Tyrel Reed returns for his senior year and is guaranteed minutes as the Jayhawks’ best outside shooter. He is not a reliable ball-handler or defender, but works hard and is better than he’s given credit for. He is a valuable third or fourth guard and helps the team with his play.
Elijah Johnson is the mystery man in KU’s backcourt. A highly touted high school player from Las Vegas, Johnson rarely saw action his freshman year while older, more experienced players received the majority of playing time in the backcourt. Fans wondered why Johnson didn’t see more court time when Tyshawn Taylor’s lackluster play limited his minutes, but most believed Coach Self simply chose to go with the more experienced Brady Morningstar.
Morningstar historically receives the bulk of his minutes as a reserve small forward, and will likely be called upon again to provide mistake-free play off the bench in the frontcourt.
The other guards are red-shirt sophomore Travis Releford, walk-on Conner Teahan (if he does not choose to red-shirt in 2011), and freshman Royce Woolridge. Releford will earn minutes if his jump shot improves. Teahan and Woolridge will probably be restricted to mop-up duties.
KU’s returning players are talented but limited, and Selby will likely be the best and most complete guard on KU’s roster the moment he arrives in Lawrence. The local newspapers have suggested he might be a better player right now than Sherron Collins ever was for KU, which would certainly help. It is assumed that Selby will start in the backcourt with (probably) Tyshawn Taylor, giving Bill Self two players who can man either the point or shooting guard position. If Elijah Johnson’s game (and jump shot) improves over the summer, he would be the third man on the roster capable of filling both positions, and Coach Self would have a three-man rotation of versatile, athletic players. Tyrel Reed would see duty as a fourth guard, and his minutes will depend on how well the other guards shoot. If they falter from outside, expect Reed’s court time to increase.
The beauty of Josh Selby’s teaming with an experienced backcourt is that Bill Self doesn’t need to push him to become a leader. The Jayhawks won’t have to start from scratch with Selby learning to run the team since Taylor and Johnson are capable of playing point guard. If he can take over orchestrating the offense from the outset, KU will be that much better.
KU doesn’t necessarily need Selby to bring the ball upcourt and run the offense, but they do need a go-to guy—someone to step up in a close game and make plays on both ends of the floor, or to take big shots with a game on the line. This is how Josh Selby can best help the Jayhawks in 2010-2011, and it is what Sherron Collins provided for the last two years. Before Collins there was Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush to make big plays. Before they arrived, Wayne Simien, Aaron Miles and Keith Langford stepped up when KU needed leadership. If Selby wants to lead KU to an NCAA title, the leadership role will be his for the taking.
Can Selby be the next Derrick Rose or John Wall?
Can he be the big play guy for the Jayhawks? Based on his reputation and the accolades he has received the answer is yes, but it is impossible to say for certain until he takes the court. We don’t know yet if Selby will be the next John Wall, or if he will play more like Avery Bradley (no offense intended to Texas Longhorn fans). If Selby can establish a rapport with Coach Bill Self, the possibility of an outstanding 2011 season presents itself. If he is not up to the challenge, KU can still rely Tyshawn Taylor or Elijah Johnson to run the team. That is the beauty of this squad—it is talented and deep. KU’s success does not depend on a single player—even the highest rated player entering the college ranks this season.
It could be a fun year for KU fans. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
SELBY LEADS KU WITH 21 POINTS IN HIS DEBUT!
Selby will wear jersey number 32; the number his mother wore in high school.
Selby eligibility cleared. On November 19th the NCAA ruled that Josh Selby must sit out nine games before suiting up for the Jayhawks. He will be eligible to play for Kansas beginning with their December 18th game against USC. Josh Selby's amateur status and his eligibility to play college basketball was examined by the NCAA because of his relationship with Robert Frazier, the business manager for Carmelo Anthony. Amateur athletes can have contact with sports agents, but if an agreement for representation is reached, the athlete's eligibility is compromised. It was determined Selby received $4,607.58 in "illegal benefits" including clothes, transportation, meals and lodging. Selby must pay back that money to a charity of his choice. When a player has been determined to have accepted over $1,000 in impermissible benefits, NCAA rules state he must sit out 30% of the season's games. The suspension seems long, but Coach Bill Self said the rules were "black and white" and seemed pleased with the outcome. Unfortunately, the meat of KU's non_conference schedule falls into Selby's suspension period, and KU will play Arizona, UCLA, and Memphis without his services.
Selby's first game as a Jayhawk was a big one. He came off the bench to score 21 points against USC, including a go-ahead three-point basket with 24 seconds left in the game. KU squandered a 14-point lead against Southern California, but Selby came through with clutch shooting and led the Jayhawks to their 65 consecutive home victory. His first game was timely--without Selby, KU would likely have lost the game. Josh Selby showed what he brings to the Jayhawks, and it is just what they need--someone who can make plays under pressure. He will be a huge factor for KU before long.
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