When Kansas basketball fans found out Wayne Selden, Jr. was staying for a sophomore season, a cry went 'round the masses that the 2014-2015 season would be "Wayne's World."
Now, Selden would have the permanent green light to go off for 20+ points they way he had at Oklahoma in 2014. No longer would he be stuck in Andrew Wiggins' shadow; he could assert himself more. He could step up and be a team leader. Coach Bill Self remarked that Selden had been battling a knee injury for most of the season, which seemed to explain why he had been quiet or completely disappeared in several '13-'14 games.
Coming into KU, Selden was a Top 20 high school recruit. Most thought he would be a 'one-and-done,' hence the joyful surprise when he announced he would stay for another season.
Now that Kansas is more than one-quarter into conference play, and survived a 20-point comeback by Oklahoma in Allen Fieldhouse... perhaps Jayhawk fans should be asking, "When are we going to see 'The Real' Wayne Selden?"
But, the better question is: "Should we be disappointed in the Selden we have seen?"
Can Selden get a hot hand and go off for a new career high, the way he did at Oklahoma last year? Most certainly. He has the ceiling and capability. The only thing he lacks is the consistency.
Let's examine how Selden has performed compared to his teammates this year, and his own play last year.
According to HoopMath.com, Selden has an eFG% of 42.1 percent. To put that in perspective, that's in the same neighborhood as Sviatoslav Mykhailuk and Landen Lucas. All his fellow starters and major bench players have eFG%s in the high forties or mid-fifties. Both his percentage of shots taken at the rim and field goal percentage at the rim are the lowest among the five starters.
Compared to the other players in the main rotation, Selden lags behind them in several categories, including: field goal percentage of two-point jumpers, percentage of assisted two-point jumpers, and three-point field goal percentage. His 60 percent free throw percentage is the team's second lowest, after Landen Lucas'.
Among the rotation players, however, he does have the second-highest percentage of assisted three-pointers.
So, offensively, Selden does not seem to contribute as much or as efficiently as his teammates.
Okay, but those statistics include a very difficult non-conference schedule, including the two all-around terrible performances against Kentucky and Temple. How has Selden performed lately? A fair question. Let's take a look at fetch13's "Semi-Statistical Recaps" for our five conference games:
Wayne Selden disappeared for big stretches of this one, but he hit some big shots late, and finished 3-5 on twos and 1-4 on threes. Selden also had 4 assists and just 1 turnover, though he two seemed to struggle a bit defensively. Still, Selden hit a couple jumpers in big spots and didn't do anything too dumb, so there's something to be said for that.
Wayne Selden struggled from the field a bit, notably shooting just 1-5 from three, but found ways to contribute without shooting well, which is huge. Selden had 3 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals.
Wayne Selden did a good job chasing Phil Forte around screens, but it took away from his offensive game. Selden was 1-5 on twos, 1-2 on threes, just 1-2 at the line, and mostly faded in and out of the game. He did have 2 nice blocks though.
Wayne Selden was 3-5 on twos, 2-6 on threes, and had 3 assists and 3 turnovers. Statistically it didn't look too bad, but he took some tough two point jumpers that he needs to get rid of.
Wayne Selden was just 1-6 on twos and 1-3 on threes, and also had 2 turnovers, but for most of the game (especially the first half) he did such a good job on Buddy Hield that I'm willing to look past it.
In short, Selden seems to be all over the place. He's good defensively some games, not so good others. He comes through for us at Baylor, but seems to disappear in the nailbiter against Oklahoma. So far, in conference, he's always contributed to some aspect of the game -- whether it's in rebounds, assists, solid defense, or 'need-to-be-there' points. This explains why he has started every game since he's been here. Selden has a large body, with quick feet, and long(ish) arms who can get up in your face on defense, or grab those rebounds in the lane.
But, he's quiet, cold, and inconsistent offensively. And on this team, that's saying something. From what we've heard, he became the team's vocal leader over the summer; and it's great that he's setting a good example of contributing to the game even when the shots aren't falling -- finding open teammates, playing sticky defense, hustling for loose balls and so forth. However, another part of being a leader -- a 'go-to guy' -- is stepping up and making those shots when necessary. Selden seems to do that very seldom.
Granted, it's probably Self's decision. If it's a 'go-big-or-go-home' situation, Self's probably giving the ball to Frank Mason or Perry Ellis -- someone who's more consistent offensively, and can at least draw the foul even if the shot doesn't fall.
But, if Selden wants to have a shot at the pros... If he wants to be this team's vocal leader... If he wants to contribute efficiently in any and all aspects of the game, he has to refine his shot. He has to more productive when he drives to the rim. He needs to find a surer stroke from three. Because if Mason's or Ellis' shots aren't falling on a given night, Selden should be prepared to step up.
And that's why, perhaps, Kansas fans should be disappointed in him. He continues to start every game, even though -- compared to last season -- he's playing more, but producing less. And considering that, last year, he was playing alongside Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, and Naadir Tharpe... that's a very sad statistic. When the team is this offensively inconsistent, Self need at least a few players he can rely on to put points on the board any way they can -- whether it's in free throws, and-ones, dunks, lay-ups, jumpers, or three-point shots.
And that's the thing... Selden is capable of going off for 20+ points by hitting any and all of those shots. And it's not like the Jayhawks need him to go 7-of-8 shooting every game... But if Kansas hopes to clench its 11th Big 12 regular season title and survive a deep tournament run, Selden has to start living up to the hype that, whether fairly or unfairly, has been expected of him.