Following the '12-'13 season, McDonald's All-American Wayne Selden was set to highlight a top-notch recruiting class by Bill Self. The class included top 50 perimeter talents Brannen Greene & Conner Frankamp, as well as the mystery big man Joel Embiid. While Embiid was the most intriguing with his tremendous upside, Selden was thought to be more "out-of-the-box" ready to star for the Jayhawks. Fans were expecting very big things from the Massachusetts native.
Then Andrew Wiggins announced he was signing with Kansas, and everything changed. Selden was often the forgotten man for the Jayhawks a season ago, both in the media and on the court. Overshadowed by both Wiggins and Embiid, he averaged a respectable, if unspectacular, 9.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg, and 2.5 apg. He also earned honorable mention on the All-Big 12 team.
It was later revealed that Selden played most of his freshman season with an injured left knee, for which he had off-season surgery to repair. Early reports this summer from camp games and scrimmages are encouraging regarding his post-recovery explosiveness.
Selden returns as likely one of two returning starters, manning the shooting guard position for Self's squad. And despite only being a sophomore, many are expecting Selden to assume a position of leadership for the still relatively young Jayhawk squad. Junior forward Perry Ellis is the other likely returning starter, but expecting him to be the vocal leader of this team seems unlikely for the soft-spoke post player.
So the burden falls on the broad, athletic shoulders of Selden. No longer playing in the background of bigger names, this could very well be his team. He has a toughness to him that teammates will respect and in all likelihood respond to. He's an early favorite to lead the team in scoring, and he has the tools to take over the role of lock-down perimeter defender previously held by Wiggins last season. Many experts are already projecting him to be worthy of a first-round pick in the all-too-early NBA mock drafts.
If healthy, Selden could be poised for a breakout season.
While Selden holds down one of the positions that is not likely going to be open to a position "battle", where the back-up minutes go when he comes out of games is definitely open to debate. The role could go to either Brannen Greene or Conner Frankamp if they don't win starting jobs themselves at other positions. With a year in the system under their belts, those two will have a leg up on their freshman teammates also vying for minutes.
In limited action last season, Greene would often provide a spark for the Jayhawks off the bench. The best example of this came in the February 10 overtime loss to Kansas State. In the closing minutes of that contest, with his team down 7 with about a minute and half to play in regulation, Greene triggered a furious comeback with a put-back dunk, followed by a steal and subsequent lay-up. In the span of 15 seconds the lead had been cut to 3. The mere fact that Greene was on the court in such a situation is of note, and speaks to the potential Self sees in him.
Greene and Frankamp essentially have the same primary asset - their outside shooting ability. But everything else being equal, Greene, at 6'7" with an impressive wingspan, holds the size advantage on Frankamp. Self is on record (albeit jokingly at the team banquet) as saying "defense" isn't in Greene's vocabulary. But Greene's size provides him with the ceiling to be a good defender. So if he can show improvement in that area, Self would obviously feel more comfortable subbing him in more often.
Of course, everything else probably isn't going to be equal. Frankamp would provide an additional ball handler, and while Greene's ball handling appeared to be above average, it's probably not on par with that of Frankamp. Last season Frankamp dished 15 assists while only turning it over 3 times. That's a 5:1 assist to turnover ratio. Those figures might not be so gaudy if given extended minutes, but it does indicate a penchant for valuing the basketball.
Greene might be more spark, but Frankamp provided the biggest relief and stabilizing force of the season during the NCAA tournament games. When starting point guard Naadir Tharpe faltered, Frankamp came to the Jayhawks' rescue, providing steady ball handling and three point shooting. He played a combined 43 minutes and scored 22 points in those games. If those skills translate while playing off the ball and he can defend better than Greene, he could be the preferred option, at least in situations where his height can't be exploited by taller players.
Now while Greene and Frankamp both have the reputation of deadly outside shooters, their freshman shooting percentages left something to be desired. Greene shot 10-30 (33%) from beyond the arc, while Frankamp struggled even more shooting 15-48 (31.3%). If neither can improve upon those numbers, it might open the door for their younger teammates to garner playing time.
We're not really sure where to slot Ukrainian freshman Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. At a reported 6'8", he has the height for the small forward spot (as does Greene for that matter). But we've been told he possesses the ability to play all of the perimeter positions, so depending on how good he actually is, Self may try and find minutes for him at the 2.
Freshman Devonte' Graham, while primarily projected as a point guard, might also possess the necessary skills to play off the ball on the perimeter.
Self definitely has the luxury of multiple options coming off the bench, but Selden should be the rock. The mainstay. And in all probability - the leader of the '14-'15 Kansas Jayhawks.
Prediction: No-brainer - Selden starts and plays 30 mpg.
Bolder prediction: Greene gets first crack at earning (and keeping) the bulk of the back-up minutes