When Josh Selby stood on the court at Madison Square Garden and announced his decision to go to Kansas it was another year where Kansas fans rejoiced the signing of a top level "one and done" talent with the potential to push Kansas over the top.
A year earlier it was Xavier Henry joining Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins on a surefire Final Four squad. The problem is, Henry was just a freshman. Henry was a very good freshman, but he was still a freshman. Henry averaged 13.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Not too shabby, but by comparison it's just another freshman as far as Kansas basketball goes.
The problem seems to be that the expectation for players like Selby and Henry has gone through the roof, while their ability to get drafted has become that much easier. The NBA values potential and that ruins the opportunity for college basketball to see a sophomore, junior or senior level Xavier Henry and quite possibly Josh Selby. Everyone knows that, it's not news and it's just a part of the game.
Out of curiosity though, how would you guess Henry and Selby compare to other Jayhawks at their position who came in as freshman?
In Henry's situation we're talking about a shooting guard/wing type and while the comparison isn't perfect, Paul Pierce comes to mind. Pierce of course stayed TWO seasons with the Jayhawks before heading to Boston where he's had a possible Hall of Fame career. I say possible because I don't watch the NBA so I'm only going off of what I hear. During Paul Pierce's freshman year at Kansas he averaged 12 points, 6 rebounds per game and that was for a Kansas team that had more talent and a higher ceiling than last years Jayhawks. It was never a foregone conclusion that Pierce would depart and Pierce did in fact return for a two more full seasons where he averaged 20 and 7 as a junior.
What about Josh Selby, the curious case of Josh Selby. The expectation was that this freshman would come in and bedazzle us with his on court playmaking abilities and elevate the Kansas Jayhawks to a Harlem Globetrotter like circus act. Penetrate, pass and rain in long range bombs. I exaggerate, but Bill Self even called Selby the best player he'd ever recruited.
Following a nine game suspension and limited action since, he's done a solid job for a freshman even showing flashes of brilliance, but there are certainly areas that could be improved. Selby's current per game stats line up at 11.4 points, 2.9 assists per game.
Comparisons for Selby? How about Jacque Vaughn. The player that epitomized the college point guard by the time he left Kansas. Vaughn's freshman year he averaged 7.8 points and 5.2 assists per game. Even Aaron Miles, another Kansas point player with known offensive deficiencies managed 7.1 points and 6.8 assists per game as a freshman.
Now it's not an apples to apples comparison obviously with Roy Williams offense differing from Bill Self's and Josh Selby playing off the ball more than on, but I'd argue that both Vaughn and Miles were a bigger impact to Kansas as true freshman and both ended up being four year players.
Most Freshman don't do what Jacob Pullen did the other night against Kansas. Most Freshman don't do what Jimmer Fredette is doing out in Provo. Freshman don't pull a JJ Reddick, an Adam Morrison, name your senior in recent memory that's elevated the play of their team and John Wall might be one of the few freshman players that actually accomplished an equal feat by himself. The basketball world doesn't churn out John Wall's EVERY year, but the media sure likes to try and that's where players like Selby and Henry can't possibly live up to the hype.
You can find numbers to support any argument you want it seems, but in the case of Josh Selby I think Bill Self has played his cards right and college basketball is just a different game than it was 10-15 years ago. Selby is a player that likely benefits a great deal from another season at Kansas. He see's a full season on the court, feels more comfortable dictating his game and becomes better adept at handling the speed of the game from a ballhandling and defensive perspective. Some of that development is already apparent. But at the end of the day we might only see Selby in a Kansas uniform for one season and not even a full one at that.
It takes a mix of three and four year players with maybe a splash of flash to do what Bill Self has done at Kansas over his tenure. Josh Selby is a freshman. A freshman that has provided a noticeable lift to Kansas on multiple occasions, but he's also a freshman that makes you wish their were sophomore and junior seasons guaranteed. There are a multitude of factors that could lead to another year from Josh Selby so I'll be keeping my fingers crossed, but the lesson here when it comes to recruiting and one and done's might just be another important one when it comes to perspective.