1-on-1 With All-American and Future Kansas Star Wayne Selden
Words. Matthew Gibson
When talking about the best all-time basketball talent to emerge from Massachusetts, the first name that comes to mind might be Patrick Ewing . But bridging that gap from yesterday to today, three Boston natives and products of the Tilton School (Tilton, New Hampshire) have found themselves under the All-American spotlight in the past five years alone. Following in the footsteps Missouri center Alex Oriakhi and Kentucky centerpiece Nerlens Noel is Kansas commit Wayne Selden, the latest Tilton student-athlete to gain All-American accolades after being selected for both the McDonald’s All-American game and Jordan Brand Classic this spring.
I had the chance to catch up with the electrifying 6-5, 220-pound senior guard as he reflected on his memorable High School career and looks forward to Big-12 Basketball.
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High School Hoop: So you recently just finished your high school basketball career. As you reflect on your time at Tilton, is there anything that sticks out as your most memorable moment on the court?
Wayne Selden: Definitely winning the [NEPSAC] Class Championship my first year. It was just the joy for everybody and it was our (Tilton’s) fourth in a row at the time. It was really a big thing winning that championship.
HSH: Before Tilton, you also played varsity ball at O’Bryant in the 8th grade on a roster that had a few other players end up Division I (Ike Azotam [Quinnipiac], Chris Flores [NJIT], Marcos Banegas-Flores [Northeastern]). Was there anyone in the program that helped with your development at such a young age?
WS: All of them were a big help. Trying to defend Marcos at practice and stuff was a difficult challenge. Even Coach Fig (O’Bryant’s head coach at the time, Juan Figueroa) was a big push for me because he’s a coach that really thrives on discipline, conditioning, and he’s a real tough coach and that’s what really developed my toughness in the game.
HSH: When did you realize that your dream of becoming a Division I player might be a reality? Was there any defining moment?
WS: Not really. Like, it came on slow so I just kept trying to develop and develop. You always have dreams and aspirations so it’s like, you never want to think that you can’t achieve something to improve your game. I always wanted to get there (to Division I), you know what I mean? It was never like, “Damn, I’m going to actually have to do this?” It was like, “I can do it. I can do it.”
HSH: So you’re officially a Kansas Jayhawk now after signing this past fall. Talk about why you chose Kansas and what your expectations are for your college career.
WS: Definitely win a National Championship and develop as a player.
HSH: With Kansas point guard Naadir Tharpe being a New England guy and Brewster Academy grad, you guys have had some battles in the past. Talk about your familiarity with Naadir and what your thoughts are about representing New England together in the backcourt at KU.
WS: Two years ago we weren’t really to fond of each other, going head-to-head and competing, so I never really associated with him like that. Playing against him head-to-head, [Brewster] would always get us so it was really, always a frustrating thing for me. But when I went on my visit we really hit it off so that’s my boy now – we talk all the time. I would say next year it will be really good to get there with him and continue to develop and try to compete for national championships.
HSH: Now you prepare for the McDonald’s and Jordan All-American Games. Is there anything that the former Tilton All-Americans have told you in preparation for these special events?
WS: I talk to Alex [Oriakhi] and Nerlens [Noel] every now and again. A lot of dudes told me to not take it seriously and stuff like that. I’m a competitor at heart so I always go out there and compete and just try to win the games.
HSH: What do you look most forward to in those games?
WS: Competing. That’s really my big thing. Getting out there and going head-to-head with players, defending them. Fitting in, playing my game and really just having fun.
HSH: Besides the All-American games, what are your plans as you prepare for the Big-12?
WS: Conditioning, strength-training, extra shots, ball-handling, playing pickup and really just trying to continue to develop as a player.