As the Hornets look for a prospect to take with the 22nd pick in Thursday's draft, they've brought in countless players over the past few weeks. One name among them stood out to me, and not for his basketball ability, exactly, either. To be honest, I probably remembered the name because of his famous uncle.
Wayne Selden Jr. made a name for himself in March with a dunk against Baylor, and if you haven't watched it, you need to.
Yes, that's the play I was talking about, and that's the famous uncle I was talking about too. Anthony Pitts Jr. is not basketball royalty, but he should be, and after that reaction he got a fair share of his 15 minutes of fame.
But I forgot about the dunker, Wayne Selden Jr., until his workout here in Charlotte. As Nick Denning detailed, Wayne was part of Kansas' highly touted recruiting class of 2013, so I probably should've known who he was before the dunk. Selden was 1/3 of the Jayhawks 2013 "Big Three" with Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. The McDonald's All-American played well in his freshman season alongside the future #1 and #3 draft picks, but he wasn't nearly as impressive as his teammates and stayed in college two more seasons.
It wasn't until his junior year that some of that Big Three potential started to shine through. Selden saw a leap forward in production, composure, and efficiency. He averaged 13.8 points per game, shot 47.4 percent from the field, and shot 39.2 percent from the 3-point line.
His 6' 5.75" height and 6' 10" wingspan give him a good profile for an NBA winger (and a freakish reach), and his catch and shoot jumper is his most NBA-ready skill to go with his marketable dunking ability. He's also seen as an "unselfish competitor," giving maximum effort on defense more often than not, all things that we know Steve Clifford looks for in a Hornet (looking at you, Jeremy Lamb).
On the downside, Selden is not really seen as a playmaker. He dribbles a bit much, has trouble passing on the break, and has a bit of the Jeremy Lin disease, running straight into traffic to get to the hoop. His defensive skills could also use some work, because while he competes, he gets beat more often than he should. Those are all things a good coaching staff can work on, but he'll need to improve greatly under Clifford to be worth more than his projected early-second round status.
Will Cho gamble on the McDonald's All-American? He certainly could.
The "unselfish competitor" status is a big deal to Clifford and the Hornets, and his improved shot could be a big asset off the bench. He's also the same age as Wiggins and Embiid and stressed his chance to mature at Kansas in his post-workout interview. And you can't deny the Hornets need a little bit of rim shattering swagger. If the Hornets do take him, he'd certainly compete with Jeremy Lamb for playing time, so it might require some reworking of the roster, but they might feel his potential is worth the work.
Unselfish passion and 3-point shooting are key to this Hornets squad, and when you can throw in the ability for the occasional monster dunk that makes people lose their damn minds, Wayne Selden Jr. might be exactly what the Hornets are looking for late in the first round. We'll see on Thursday night.