Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
When Josh Selby makes his long-awaited debut for Kansas Saturday against Southern Cal, he has one simple goal.
“The only thing I would like to do is don’t mess up the chemistry of my teammates,” Selby, an explosive freshman combo guard, said Monday on a teleconference. “They already have a great chemistry out there, as you can see, when you watch the games.”
The NCAA ruled last month that Selby, a McDonald’s All-American who averaged 32 points a game at Baltimore’s Lake Clifton High, must sit out nine regular season games and repay $5,757.58 in impermissible benefits to the charity of his choice. Selby reportedly received the benefits from Robert Bay Frazier, the business manager of Carmelo Anthony. Selby has admitted to having a personal relationship with Frazier, who, like Anthony and Selby, is from Baltimore.
“To be honest, I would have never done anything different because I don’t feel I really technically did anything wrong,” Selby said. “There are some rules you have to apply (to) but for people who are in my situation, what I would tell them is to just think twice before you do things. That’s the biggest thing I would say.”
Still, he knows he’s fortunate to have missed only nine games while the NCAA ruled Kentucky freshman forward Enes Kanter permanently ineligible last month because he received benefits above his actual and necessary expenses while playing for his Turkish basketball club.
The NCAA decided Kanter received over $33,000 above his necessary expenses for the 2008-09 season.
“I do feel that I am lucky because when I saw what happened with the Kanter situation, I wondered if they (the NCAA) would do the same thing with me,” Selby said. “But God does things for a reason and I am just thankful that God gave me the opportunity to play a game in college.”
Selby said he never considered leaving Kansas to play professionally in Europe or elsewhere.
“I never thought about leaving Kansas because they put so much work into this situation and they never gave up on me so I was never thinking about giving up on them,” he said.
Kansas (9-0) is undefeated and ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press Top 25 without Selby.
How much better can they be with him?
“I think it will change a lot,” sophomore forward Marcus Morris said recently. “Josh is a good defender and he can score real well. Having another threat on the floor like Josh will be great for us.”
Tyshawn Taylor, a Hoboken, N.J. native who played for Hall of Famer Bob Hurley at St. Anthony, is the team’s primary ball-handler and head coach Bill Self saidthat will remain the case even when Selby returns.
“We need Ty to be our primary ball-handler and that way it can take some pressure off of Josh,” Self said. “I don’t see it changing anything with Tyshawn, other than the fact that we maybe can play a little bit faster because we get a little bit more athletic.”
While Kansas is loaded with scorers in the Marcus and Markieff Morris, Taylor, Tyrel Reed and Thomas Robinson, what they lack is someone who can break down defenders off the dribble and create his own shot.
“From what my teammates have been saying in my ear, (I am) somebody who can create his own shot and (I also provide) a toughness,” he said.
Selby has the potential to have an impact similar to the nation’s other top freshmen — Duke’s Kyrie Irving (before the injury), Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, Kentucky’s Terrence Jones, Tennessee’s Tobias Harris and North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, yet Self said it may take until the start of the Big 12 conference schedule for Selby to get accustomed to his teammates.
For his part, Selby went out of his way to praise his teammates and said he would take a “backseat” to them on offense.
“Whatever my team and the coaching staff needs me to do, I will do it for them, to win,” he said. “If it’s scoring or playing the point guard, that’s what I will do.”
Four of the Top 10 teams in latest AP poll are from Big East: No. 4 UConn, No. 5 Syracuse, No. 8 Pitt and No. 10 Villanova….Former Paterson Catholic teammates Jordan Theodore and Fuquan Edwin tallied 17 points apiece as Seton Hall routed Longwood 78-51. A Big East source who attended the game said there had been no resolution on the issue of having the Seton Hall student section so close to the visiting bench. League officials are concerned this could be an issue during league games…There is still no official word out of #Tennessee on whether Marquette transfer Jeronne Maymon will play Tuesday vs. Oakland. He is waiting to be cleared…Christ the King junior guard Omar Calhoun enjoyed his weekend unofficial to North Carolina and has no date set for a UConn visit, but will trip there in 2011…Arizona State coach Herb Sendek watched Huntington (WV) Prep combo guard Maurice Aniefiok Sunday at Freedom Hall and will trip to Huntington to visit him as well, according to Joe Boncore, Aniefiok’s mentor…Findlay Prep plays Yates (Texas) Thursday at 9 EST on ESPN, so St. John’s fans see Amir Garrett, Arizona fans can watch Nick Johnson and Texas supporters can witness Myck Kabongo.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.