The biggest question coming into today’s action was what kind of player Josh Selby would be.
A damn good one.
Kansas survived a scrappy USC team this afternoon, hanging on to win 70-68 after blowing a double digit second half lead at the Phog. Selby was the savior. He hit a huge three with three minutes left in the game to give Kansas the lead back after USC had taken a 64-62 lead. And he hit an even bigger three — the eventual game winner — with 17 seconds left, giving Kansas a 69-68 lead.
All told, Selby finished with 21 points and five boards, knocking down five of his eight threes. When he checked in coming out of the under 16 time out, Selby immediately scored 10 straight points.
Selby is the missing piece for the Kansas team. He’s a dynamic scorer and a big time shot maker. He’s a kid that clearly isn’t afraid to take, and make, a clutch jumper. I don’t know that the Jayhawks have another player like that.
But it isn’t just the clutch play and impressive shooting that made Selby’s debut so impressive. He played defense. He did his damage within the framework of the Jayhawk offense; of the 11 shots he took from the floor, only one — a forced three in the first half after he had hit two in a row — was a bad shot.
And we still haven’t seen him aggressively attack the rim. His reputation wasn’t as a shooter coming out of high school. He’s more of a driver, using his size, quickness, and explosiveness to get by his man and to the rim.
The reason he wasn’t really attacking the basket is that Selby was playing off the ball. Tyshawn Taylor was the Jayhawk’s point guard for the first month of the season, and he was this afternoon as well. Selby’s shooting was a by product of the Jayhawk’s ball movement and team play.
The question now?
How long will this last? How long will Selby be fine playing off the ball? Will Bill Self be forced to make a change?
Kansas is a team in transition. If Josh Selby continues to play this way, Bill Self is going to have give him more minutes, more shots, and more control of the game.
If that is the case, and the Jayhawk’s current starters can accept a freshman playing a leading role, then it won’t be long until Kansas is mentioned in the same breath as Duke.