“With the 49th selection in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Memphis Grizzlies select Josh Selby, guard from Kansas.” And with those words, “Showtime” became the latest potential Boy in Beale Street Blue.
Those of you who follow basketball the way that guys like I do will have been familiar with Selby from long before draft night, of course. He’s been a big-time name amongst hoops heads since he was in high school. As Gary Parrish astutely pointed out on his radio show last week, if Selby had been allowed to enter the draft after his senior year — a season in which he posted the following stats: 32 ppg, 7 apg, 5 rpg — he would have been a no-doubt Top 10 selection. However, given the tumultuous way that his brief college recruitment and career played out, it’s not great surprise that his stock fell drastically and he found himself in the second round.
Let’s not beat around a sugar-coated bush here — the kid has some major red flags flying over his head. His recruitment was rife with questionable practices, including the fact that he flew to colleges on unofficial visits, ostensibly with the help of a “family friend” who just happened to be connected to some NBA players, and he also showed up driving a Mercedes occasionally. Then there was his decommittment from the University of Tennessee and his two-step with Kentucky before finally enrolling at Kansas, which raised even more questions about him. He earned himself a 9-game suspension to start off his NCAA career, which was further compounded by a foot injury that obviously affected him throughout the remainder of the season.
So…with all of that said, why would Chris Wallace take a chance on this kid, albeit a small chance given that second round picks don’t usually get guaranteed contracts? Simple questions deserve simple answers: Josh Selby is a very talented basketball player. That’s all anybody needs to know. However, it gets better because anybody who listened to his interview with Chris Vernon heard him state quite clearly that he is motivated by being a second round pick, going so far as to proclaim that he’s going to ask for the #2 for his uniform this season as an added reminder. (Incidentally, this is also the same interview where I found out that Selby’s nickname is “Showtime”, which I lovelovelove!) I don’t know about you, but I like to have motivated, talented players on my team’s roster.
In case anyone has forgotten, our own Zach Randolph came in with a laundry list of question marks a mile long before turning his career around to the point where he is being talked about as a Top 5 power forward in the league. Rudy Gay was much-maligned after his sophomore season as UConn as well before the Grizzlies traded for his draft rights. Both of those guys have turned out ok so far the last time I checked.
As I can recall reading on this very blog several times in the past, “We need basketball players, not choir boys”. Josh Selby is a basketball player, through and through. He was lauded as one of the most talented point guards in the country a year ago, and I, for one, am eager to see what he can do as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. I would have liked to have seen him in summer league action, where you can typically get a good feel for wing players’ abilities and especially the readiness of point guards. (Lest we forget, last year’s summer league helped to prove once and for all that O.J. Mayo is not an NBA-calibre point guard.) However, with the CBA situation looming over everything, we won’t get that opportunity.
Josh Selby has size, athleticism and speed. He’s been a big-time player before, and I’m eager to see what he can do at the next level despite his poor showing in college. Taking a chance on potential in the second round makes a lot more sense than doing it with a Top 10 pick, after all. Who knows…..maybe Showtime will show us all something we weren’t expecting this season.