Simien Staying?

As the Jayhawks take on the Tigers at home, every Kansas player will need to step up to gain a victory. As usual, junior forward Wayne Simien bears a hefty share of this burden.

"Stopping Wayne Simien starts with stopping them in transition," said Missouri coach Quin Snyder. "He gets a lot of stuff in transition too it's not just their initial push and early post stuff."

"He's one of the more dominant post players not only in our league but in the nation. He's found a groove in his game. You don't find a lot of guys in college that can shoot over the top of you but he can."

As proof of this dominance, Wayne Simien is one of 20 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award as college basketball's player of the year.

"You can pencil him in for 20 points and 10 rebounds for the most part," said Kansas coach Bill Self.

"Those are All-American type numbers. If our team had four losses instead of seven -- he would be considered on all of the All-American teams and he still might anyway. I think he likes how we are playing and we are doing a much better job of getting him the ball."

Simien is 69 points short of 1,000 for his career, joining an elite group of only 45 players in KU history. But is Simien ready to consider the NBA Draft?

According to statements by Simien, he plans to be here to give his own Senior Speech a year from now.

"It's something that we should address when the time is right to address it -- that time is not now," said Bill Self.

"Wayne is a grounded young man and his parents are as well. They said that they will just have to wait and see. For him to say what he said (Wednesday) -- I don't think he would say it unless he believed in his heart that was the case."

The season is not over, and the NBA Draft can be fickle. Kansas fans should not ink Simien into the 2004-05 roster just yet.

"We can all learn from the process. It was good for Drew to leave -- it was hard to improve on where he was picked. If Kirk and Nick would have come out as juniors you don't know what they would have been -- late first, early second. They played themselves into an unbelievable position," said Self.

"I really believe that Wayne can be a guy that benefits like Kirk and Nick benefited from a senior year."

For now, the focus is on the games ahead. In the post season, an official decision can be expected.

"I told Wayne that once the season is over we need to sit down because there are ways to find out exactly what people are thinking. I told him not to read into stuff and he told me that he isn't even thinking about it. I was the one that initiated it with him," said Self.

In the past Simien told Self is not interested in talking with any agents or runners, preferring to concentrate on his college season. Self plans to give Simien the opportunity to gather as much information as possible -- when Simien is ready to hear it.

"It's an inexact science. I think you have to weigh all of the things there. I know Wayne and he wouldn't have said (he was staying) unless he meant it -- we will just have to wait and see what happens there."

Despite the lure of the NBA, there are plenty of reasons for Simien to stay put.

"Being from Leavenworth and growing up loving the Jayhawks for so long -- some things mean more to him than maybe somebody from outside of the area," said Self.

"It will give him the chance to go out with the guys and leave a legacy behind. He will definitely go down as one of the premier players that have played here. I think that is all very important to Wayne." Top Stories