Friday, January 2, 2009

Thriving overseas, Simien keeps close tabs on Jayhawks

Former Jayhawk basketball star Wayne Simien will have his jersey retired on Jan. 29, 2011.

Former Jayhawk basketball star Wayne Simien will have his jersey retired on Jan. 29, 2011.


It’s challenging, but not impossible, for Wayne Simien to follow the day-to-day fortunes of Kansas University’s basketball team while living in Caceres, Spain.

“The toughest part has been having to wake up at 3 a.m., to check up on KU football and basketball and my Chiefs on the ESPN live ticker,” said Simien, the former KU All-America power forward.

Since late October, Simien has been playing power forward and center for Cáceres Ciudad de Baloncesto in Spain’s top pro hoops league.

“I keep up with everything Jayhawk by getting on daily and follow the game stats live on,” added Simien, whose clock ticks seven hours ahead of the ones in Lawrence.

“It’s tough to get a read on the team with only seeing highlight clips and reading articles, but I do know coach (Bill) Self and his staff will bring the best out of that young team.”

Simien — he’s averaging 16.2 points and 8.1 rebounds a game through 10 games — is pleased to report he’s faring well during his comeback season of sorts overseas.

Remember, the 25-year-old Simien, who played for the Miami Heat two years, missed all of last season as he battled back from left knee surgery.

“My body is feeling good, and my knee has not been giving me any problems, which is very encouraging. We play one game a week and usually practice twice a day,” said Simien, who has hit 60 percent of his floor shots and 76 percent of his free throws while logging 32 minutes a game.

“I’m still learning the ‘Euro’ style of playing. It’s more of a halfcourt game, with not as much running, but the ball still bounces, and the hoop is still 10-feet high. I was surprised how different it is, and the traveling calls have been the hardest to figure out. I’ve had to almost erase some offensive moves from my arsenal, but am still able to be effective. The style of play is really physical in the paint. I can’t believe I ever argued a call in the Big 12,” he joked.

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Simien is impressed at the popularity of the game in Spain.

“The fans are a lot like college fans, but I never would compare them to the Jayhawk Nation,” Simien said.

He said he, his wife, Katie, and daughters Selah and Rael have adjusted well and are in no hurry for their European adventure to end this May, when they return to the U.S.

“We are really enjoying the city we live in. It’s actually a lot like Lawrence, about 80,000 people with a good-sized university and lots of young people,” Simien said of Caceres. “Thanks to having a good high school and college Spanish teacher, I have been able to communicate just fine with neighbors and teammates and am learning the language quickly.

“We have made some really good friends here in the city, and thanks to the Internet we can see and talk to our friends and family in the States nearly every day,” added Simien, recently reunited with his parents, who traveled from Leavenworth overseas for Christmas.

“My family is enjoying this, and I wouldn’t have been able to do this without them. My wife used to live in Spain, so a lot is familiar. It’s one thing to visit another country, but to live there and immerse yourself in its culture is an amazing experience,” added Simien, who also speaks regularly with former Jayhawk Aaron Miles, who plays for a team in Greece.

Of course, he’s not the only former U.S. college star competing in Europe.

“I’ve run into some familiar faces that came through the fieldhouse when I was there. Taylor Coppenrath from Vermont and Pat Carrol from St. Joseph’s and K-State’s Jeremiah Massey is playing up the road in Madrid,” Simien said. “There’s still some talk of Richard Scott in these parts, which is cool because he is one of my all-time favorite Jayhawks.”

Simien is counting his blessings as 2009 begins.

“I am happy I decided to come and play here in Europe. I feel very fortunate to be able to make a good living doing something I love and see the world,” he said. “I will finish this season in Spain and make an effort to get back into the NBA this summer as well as run our second Called to Greatness camp (in Lawrence, information to be coming on his Website”

His New Year’s resolution?

“The Simien family New Year’s resolution this year is to increase our charitable giving. The state of the U.S. economy has a lot of people worried and has led people to save for themselves and not give both of their time and finances,” he said.

“Instead of raising our standard of living, we want to raise our standard of giving. It is better to give then receive: Acts 20:35,” he added. “We would encourage people to consider the same.”

• Big game Saturday: KU’s basketball team (9-3) is slated to practice in Allen Fieldhouse this afternoon. Tennessee’s squad (9-2) will practice tonight in preparation for Saturday’s 1 p.m. game. Both practices are closed to the public.

“They’re defending national champions, and they have a 31-game home win streak. They don’t want to give it up,” UT junior guard J.P. Price said in an interview with the Knoxville News Sentinel. “It’ll probably be the toughest environment we’ve been in since we went to Memphis last year.”

Tennessee defeated NCAA runner-up Memphis, 66-62, last Feb. 23 on the Tigers’ home court.

• Historical perspective: KU and UT have yet to meet in men’s basketball. The Vols are 2-0 all-time versus the Jayhawks in women’s hoops. UT is also 2-0 versus KU all-time in football and 2-1 versus KU in baseball.


Benjamin Clay Jones 11 years ago

The comments by Simien read as though they were made in an e-mail, not a phone conversation. If so, that should have been made clear in the article. To pretend otherwise is fraudulent, and Bedore should know better.

rockchalkAZ 11 years ago

i miss big dub. one of my favorite jayhawks of all time

rockchalkAZ 11 years ago

Did Bedore ever say he had a phone conversation with Simien?

jaybate 11 years ago

Pritchard is crazy, if he doesn't pick Simien up next year.

Joe Ross 11 years ago

speakeasy...SO WHAT???Bedore is a good enough writer, thank you very much. Apply for an editorship at some two-bit small town Gazette so you can have an outlet to have your axes grinded. He's one of the finest writers here.

milwaukeeJAYHAWK 11 years ago

Yeah, who cares if it was call or email? What's up with everyone always criticizing the guys? i was looking forward to seeing comments on simien, not the editor.anyways, about simien.....he's one of my favorite hawks too. that sounds fun living in another country, still making a living playing ball. heck, i'd love to do that myself if i had some b-ball talent. he seems to be really focusing on the positive side of it, rather than bemoaning his absentia from the nba.

milwaukeeJAYHAWK 11 years ago

oh, and Wayne, if you read this (which I'm sure you will since you go to this website every day) - good luck!

yates33333 11 years ago

I hope Pritchard reads this paper and realizes Jaybate knows basketball talent. I have trouble understanding why it matters if the interview was by telephone or e-mail. They both could have been by using the internet.Hope things go as you wish Wayne.

Houstonjay 11 years ago

I remember the Bobby Douglass Kansas beating Tennessee in football in 1967 or 1968 in Knoxville.

Houstonjay 11 years ago

I stand was 1973 and we lost to Tennessee 28 to 27. It was a much better memory as a win...

Westfieldhawk 11 years ago

I lived in Spain a bit myself abut 6 Mos. I LOVE SPAIN - Great quality of life - I miss Jamon Serano. Wayne if you read this try to get up to Pyrennes on French border. It's a beautiful area, kids would love it and they have some incredible Churches in the Mountains.Wayne is totally grounded and has a fantastic outlook. It's what you can do for others - I try to do that but it's tough.

Michael Mulvihill 11 years ago

loved watching wayne in HS as he took us to the 2000 state champions at LHS and loved it even more when he put on the red, white and crimson of KU. cant wait to see you back in the NBA where you belong.

MinnesotaJay 11 years ago

Congratulations, Wayne. It's great to hear that you're feeling good and playing well. I hope you do get a chance to get back to the NBA and maybe even play with some fellow Jayhawks. But mainly, it's good to hear that one of the good guys is back on track. Best wishes to you.

rockchalks7 11 years ago

Good Luck Wayne, great to hear your doing well and cant wait to follow you next year when you make an NBA squad. Come on down to OKC with Collison.

WisconsinJayhawk 11 years ago

My fave Wayne moment: he was at McDonalds on 6th, I was in line behind. The lady ahead of him, from out of town and no BB fan, turned, saw Dub towering over her, and said: "I hope you play basketball". Wayne, instead of being the ego sports star, says, "No." She says, do you play any sports?" He says, "I am on the chess team". She was flummoxed and I just about died laughing. Guy has a good sense of humor and is a down to earth fella. Good luck in everything you do.

actorman 11 years ago

"I have trouble understanding why it matters if the interview was by telephone or e-mail."I have no trouble understanding; it's clearly so that speakeasy can continue to impress us all with his brilliant, incisive commentary.That's a great story, Wisconsin, and sums up Wayne perfectly. What a great person to have representing KU and Lawrence to the world! If ever there's an ex-Jayhawk (or former - I forget which one people say is preferable) who deserves to be successful in the NBA, it's Wayne.

sportdan30 11 years ago

How neat would it be for Simien to replace Danny Manning one day on the bench for KU?

B60 11 years ago

Its good to see Wayne do well. The league that he plays in is the LEB gold league.This is the second level league in Spain. The ACB league is the highest league. You can follow his games on If you use google you can use the translate option and read the print in english.

Justin Diederich 11 years ago

Hopefully big dub will play a few years, then come back to Kansas and coach when Danny Manning decides to become a head coach.

Benjamin Clay Jones 11 years ago

Actually, whether Bedore spoke to Wayne long distance in Spain, e-mailed him, or saw him when Wayne dropped by the J-W offices, the context of the conversation should have been made clear for readers. It's Journalism 101. Not that I would expect a J-W writer to know that, or you nitwits to understand.

chanutejayhawk 11 years ago

Wayne, I pray for you and your family every day!STRONG!

Lance Hobson 11 years ago

What a class act, I'd love to see him back in the NBA. Even more than that I'd like to see his jersey hanging in Allen Field House.I second Nschmi04's suggestion, and thanks also in advance.

Tony Bandle 11 years ago

Holy Moses...It looks like Little is going to play Tuesday against Siena!!!! Just having him on the bench in uniform will be a boost and he might be able to give short bursts of hard play to boot. Can anyone confirm this rumor????

Tim Quest 11 years ago

Actually, Speakeasy, that's NOT Journalism 101. In fact, it's completely irrelevant to the article. Had you ever taken Journalism 101, or stepped foot in a college classroom, you might know that.

Benjamin Clay Jones 11 years ago

Actually, Farney, I have a degree in news-editorial journalism from KU and have spent much of my life in newsrooms. And the expression is not "stepped foot" (a common malapropism these days), it's "set foot."And it's never irrelevant to an article to know the medium by which a source was interviewed--especially when that medium involves writing rather than speaking. Or have you never read the words "said in a written statement" in a newspaper story before?

jacqueshock 11 years ago

Quote of the story:"There’s still some talk of Richard Scott in these parts." I guess the legend never dies.

Bob Robertson 11 years ago

Thanks for the article and update on Wayne Simien. Always a class act at KU and still is. Got to see him on Sr. night. Thanks to Mr Simien for being a great person and good Jayhawk. God bless you and your family!

Drew Bender 11 years ago

Actually I just got a singing telegram from Gary Bedore... He said that him and Wayne were actually communicating through Morse Code...... Who cares????

Commenting has been disabled for this item.