Josh Selby: Anatomy of a Recruitment (Part 2)

Part 2 of our two-part story on the college decision of future Jayhawk guard, Josh Selby.

Fast forward a few months.

The unofficial visits have come to a close, and it's time to settle down and figure out which schools will garner an unofficial visit. The list fluctuates again, this time down to four – Arizona, Kansas, UCONN and Kentucky.

In previous weeks and months, to say that Maeshon had done her homework would be a serious understatement. A diligent student, she watched game tape. She studied offenses and defenses, and she studied the way coaches handled their players, watching how the players responded to them in turn. She called family of former and current players at each school to get their honest, no-holds-barred impressions.

When it came time to schedule an official visit to Kansas, great timing played as much of a factor as anything, Maeshon said. In comparing her son's schedule of games at Lake Clifton (MD) High School – to which Josh had transferred before the start of the season – an opportunity stood out to catch a weekend game in Lawrence.

And that was the important part, Maeshon noted. They wanted to see a game. They'd seen the "cool" side of Self thus far in the recruitment, but, well...Josh is Josh. She had to be certain the Kansas coaches could handle a player of his demeanor.

"That was a real big thing to me, because I know my son," she said. "Josh is a jokester. He's not mouthy in a bad way, but he is kind of sarcastic. I know he will run through a wall for coaches if that coach has his back. I was kind of concerned because I've always seen the cool side of Coach Self, but I've never seen the discipline side."

Two days after they landed in Kansas City to take in the Jayhawks' Feb. 13 contest with the Cyclones of Iowa State, that question had been answered. Maeshon had watched from behind the bench as Self ripped into his players for poor play one moment, then joked with and praised them the next.

"I was like 'Okay, you all do have what it takes to coach a kid like Josh,'" she remembered. "That was one of the things that made me easier. If Josh would have picked KU at that time, I would have been comfortable enough."

But though the Jayhawks maintained a spot at the forefront of his mind, Josh didn't commit to Kansas on that visit. And his recruitment rolled on.

••••

Fast forward again.

It's April 17. Decision time.

In the past few months, Josh Selby has solidified his spot as one of the elite – if not the elite – basketball prospects in the entire country. His combination of athleticism and skill are perhaps unmatched among guards in the 2010 recruiting class, but it's his competitive drive that sets him apart.

The killer instinct that everyone from fans and talent scouts to college and NBA coaches love so much? Josh has it in spades.

He dazzles at the McDonald's All-American Game, winning the popular Slam Dunk competition and dominating in practice sessions. The media attention grows. Where will he end up?

The list has shifted again. Now it includes Arizona, Kentucky, Kansas and Connecticut, along with a surprise. As time has softened whatever bad feelings sprung up in the wake of Josh's decommitment a year earlier, Tennessee is once again in the mix. And it all came back to his relationship with Forbes.

Rumors surfaced on message boards daily, each from individuals claiming to have inside knowledge of the situation. Selby was going to Tennessee. No, wait, it was Kansas. No, he was still trying to schedule his long-awaited visit to Kentucky.

The truth was something else altogether.

Kentucky was never a serious contender in her son's mind, Maeshon explained. Though she liked the way Coach John Calipari had used his program as a springboard for successful point guards to the NBA – with players like Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and most recently John Wall – Josh was simply never enamored with what the school and program had to offer.

In the end, it came down to Tennessee and Kansas. Which, in a lot of ways, meant that it came down to Forbes and Self. And while they loved Forbes like family, there was one, key difference that set KU apart.

Forbes is an assistant. Bill Self is a head coach.

If Forbes was the Tennessee head coach, she explained, things may have been different. But it was important to them that Josh trusted his new head coach completely, and they had that  type of bond with Self.

"They laughed, they joked," Maeshon said, of Self and her son. "Coach Self told him 'We're going to butt heads, but I'm going to have your back,' and Josh felt like he meant that.'"

So after consulting with his mom, his uncle, and close family friend Bay – a man with whom Maeshon went to grade school and has considered family ever since – he picked up a pen and signed a letter of intent.

Josh Selby was officially a Kansas Jayhawk, and all of Mount Oread breathed a sigh of relief. Self had said he wanted an immediate-impact guy, a difference maker in this recruiting class.

And he got him.

••••

There will always be a little bit of "What if..." for Maeshon in regards to Tennessee. That's what happens when you form the kind of relationship they had with Forbes.

It's why she didn't want to disappoint him. It's why she shed a few tears before sending Forbes a text on April 17, letting him know her son had picked Kansas.

"I guess I would give my right arm to Coach Forbes," she said, quietly. "I just couldn't give him my son."

Make no mistake, however. Josh Selby is all Jayhawk, and Maeshon can't wait to see what he can bring to the Kansas team in 2010.

Fans are going to have to be patient, she said. Her son is going to go through the same freshman struggles everyone else does, as he works to adjust to the speed of the game. But though she believes he'll be a featured component in 2010-2011, one of the things that made Kansas so attractive was the wealth of talent the Jayhawks are returning.

Because of experienced, talented teammates like Marcus and Markieff Morris, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson and all the rest, he won't have to carry the load that he would have had he chosen another school. He'll be allowed to shine in ways beyond what people have already seen of him and his game.

It may take him a little while to adjust to the slower pace of life in Lawrence, Maeshon added. But thanks to the welcoming nature of the Jayhawk coaches, his future teammates and – of course – the fans, she knows her son is in good hands.

"He's going to welcome KU with open arms," she said. "And I think KU will welcome him with open arms, too."

Editor's note:  This is Part 2 of a two part story.  If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.

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