Quentin Grimes had the type of performance against Eastern Michigan that was expected to be the norm. And it still could be by March, but for now it was a welcome sign.
The play of Grimes has been a popular talking point so far this year. That’s what happens when you’re a freshman who is highly rated out of high school and goes off in your first game against a top-10 team before coming back to Earth against a tough non-conference slate.
It’s not an unfamiliar story. Many freshman go through early-season struggles as they adjust to the faster pace of the college game, and freshman at Kansas are no exception. The popular comparison I’ve seen for Grimes has been to Kelly Oubre, a fellow five-star prospect who battled confidence issues early in his career. I can see the similarities. Oubre was benched for long stretches, had trouble with the adjustment and his aggressiveness, and averaged 9.3 points per game, which is close to Grimes’ current 8.1 ppg.
But there were some key differences, too. Oubre was kept out of the starting lineup for most of the non-conference season, while Grimes has started every game. Oubre was also a better rebounder (five boards per game) but worse passer (0.8 assists), and attempted fewer 3s.
Oubre makes some sense, but there’s another recent Jayhawk that provides a better comparison to Grimes’ season.
Freshman year Wayne Selden.
Let’s take a look at the numbers. Mind you, this is looking at Selden’s complete season and Grimes’ first 12 games.
Grimes: 8.1 ppg (48% from 2 on 3.7 attempts per game, 31% from 3 on 3.5 attempts per game, and 66% from the line on 2 attempts per game), 2.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.1 turnovers.
Selden: 9.7 ppg (53% from 2 on 4.3 attempts per game, 33% from 3 on 3.7 attempts per game, and 63% from the line on 2.5 attempts per game), 2.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.9 turnovers.
Those are extremely similar numbers, and in all likelihood Grimes’ points per game and 2-point field goal percentage will increase as the season goes on, making him even closer to Selden. Not only that, but Selden also started every game—like Grimes has so far—and had up and down statistical performances.
The comparison came to me while watching Grimes in the second half, and was validated by looking at the numbers afterwards. But if you need more further convincing, kenpom.com lists Selden as a similar player, along with Wayne Ellington, Malcolm Brogdon, Zach LaVine, and Jodie Meeks.
That should give you optimism as to the potential Grimes’ possesses, even after a slow start.