Not quite two years ago, Josh Selby was considered this past NCAA season’s top-rated incoming freshman according to many recruiting outlets coming out of high school in Baltimore, MD.
He ended up being suspended as a result of allegedly receiving improper benefits to begin his Kansas career, and he never really got into the rhythm he would’ve at Kansas had he not been forced to watch his first ten games in street clothes as a result.
He still played well enough to be drafted after only one season with the Jayhawks, 49th overall to Memphis, but he probably should’ve went higher. Something that hasn’t been lost on future Grizzlies All Star teammate Zach Randolph.
This from Randolph in an article with the Commercial Appeal in Memphis this morning:
“Selby’s spent most of his time this summer with the likes of [Carmelo] Anthony, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul. And it didn’t taken long for Griz pillars Mike Conley, Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo and Zach Randolph to vouch for the 20-year-old Selby’s potential.
“He’s the steal of the draft,” Randolph said. “The young fella is going to help us.”‘
He’s not lying either. I watched Selby in person for a week out at Impact in Vegas, where he scored 42 points in a game with the likes of Mo Williams, Dahntay Jones, Tony Allen, JJ Hickson, and others on the court with him, and I walked away thoroughly impressed with how good this kid could be next season. Depending on how the minutes shake out down there for Selby, on a playoff caliber Grizzlies team positioned to make deep post-season runs for a while, I would not be surprised if the second round pick is in the mix (top-five) for Rookie of the Year Honors whenever next season does play out.
He has been is impressive from a highlight reel and statistical standpoint for sure as of late, but the way he’s approached this lockout as a time for growth and development as a player is something that shouldn’t be dismissed either. Every time there has been an on-court gathering of NBA players – whether that be a charity game, a lockout league, a local showcase, or whatever – Josh Selby has been there, wherever it has been. Dude is flying from Vegas, to Indianapolis, to Philly, to Atlanta, then to Winston-Salem, for example, on back-to-back-to-back nights, and playing in games with LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Chauncey Billups, and a long list of others each and every time he steps off the plane. In addition to competing with those guys, he’s also making an effort to learn from them in the process too; which is just as important, if not more at this point.
Selby went on to talk about that in the Appeal article too:
“It’s a blessing to learn from guys who are where you want to be,” Selby said. “I’ve been playing with All Stars. And they recognize talent. Players are players. If you can play a little bit then they take you under their wing.”
Which is theme he continues to focus on. I caught up with him two weeks ago and he told me the same thing then for an article I published at SLAM Online:
“These games have been a great experience for me,” Selby said. “Anytime you can come out here and play with guys who’ve been in the League, or who are still in the League, it’s just a great situation to be able to learn from these guys who’ve been playing for so long.”
Teaching points that Selby says guys like Chauncey Billups, Mo Williams, Kenyon Martin, Tony Allen, and many others have been more than willing to offer.
“Just simple things like making one move and go, or not dancing with the ball, or reading defenders when you’re coming off a pick and roll, are some of the things I’ve really been able to pick up from these guys,” Selby added. “And they’ve all been great as far as being willing to teach me too, which has really helped.”
It’s also worth noting that Selby’s criss-crossing the country on his own dime. He has no NBA money yet, or even insurance at this point. He’s taking a risk in a lot of respects, considering the threat of injury, but it’s been an extended off-season of high reward for him too. He’s reiterated the fact that he belongs in the NBA with each game he plays, and also reminded the basketball world that the sky is still the limit as far as his potential is concerned. Regardless of whenever it was he got drafted.