Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mom expects to be emotional at Selby’s debut



Josh Selby, right, gives his mother, Maeshon Witherspoon, a hug on the court following the Jordan Brand Classic. Selby announced that he would play basketball at Kansas University on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Josh Selby believes his mom will be in serious need of tissues late Saturday morning in Allen Fieldhouse.

“I know she’ll be shedding tears,” Selby, Kansas University’s freshman guard, said of Maeshon Witherspoon, who will watch proudly as her son makes his long-awaited major-college basketball debut against USC.

So what about it, mom?

Will the tears flow before, during and/or after the 11 a.m. tipoff?

“I’m going to cry Friday night. By that time, I’m hoping to have all the crying out. I’m hoping it turns out that way,” she said Wednesday.

Witherspoon — who has been in town visiting her son as he completed his season-opening nine-game NCAA-mandated suspension — will be seated with her brother and some of Josh’s cousins, who will make the 15-hour drive from Baltimore.

“We don’t fly,” Witherspoon said of the immediate family.

Yet they’ll all be on Cloud Nine watching’s No. 1-rated player fulfill a family dream.

“We never thought Josh would have the opportunity to play in college. Not because of the NCAA (investigation), but because of where Josh came from. Most kids don’t make it out of the neighborhood,” Witherspoon said.

She chronicled Josh’s upbringing in a single-parent household in rough west Baltimore in a previous Journal-World story.

“We appreciate what he’s been through and overcome to play his first collegiate game. Words cannot express how much we’re looking forward to his first college game. Our family has an unexplainable gratitude to the state of Kansas, university and fans the way they have embraced Josh. Everybody’s been so supportive,” Witherspoon said.

She said Josh is holding up well this final-exam week — he has three tests and five papers to complete — as he gears for Saturday’s game.

“I think Josh is handling it as strong-willed as possible,” Witherspoon said. “Of course, there has to be a little nervousness. I’m nervous for him, not about necessarily living up to the hype. Some of that is high school hype.

“I want him to go out, have fun and contribute to the team and be proud of the name on the front of the jersey, because the fans, the coaching staff and everybody really rallied and supported Josh. I want us as a family to give something back.

“I don’t think there will be a whole lot of ‘highlight reel’ his first game — him dunking on any 7-footers, if USC has any,” she added. “I just want to see a release — (like) ‘I’m happy to be here.’’’

She has read media reports quoting KU coach Bill Self as saying Selby likely will come off the bench versus the Trojans.

“I don’t care about that (decision either way). If I was coach Self, I wouldn’t start him,” Witherspoon said, “because he has not played nine games. You have five guys on the floor who have been competing very well. That’s not to say Josh is not competing at practice, but practice is one thing. Game time is something different. That’s the reason I wouldn’t start him.

“It is a lot of pressure. I think Allen Fieldhouse will go nuts the first time he’s in uniform even in the layup line. It’s about him getting in rhythm. It’s not if you start, it’s how you play when you are in the game.”

Witherspoon — a good basketball player in her own right, having been the first freshman to start on varsity at Overlea High School in Baltimore — was asked what were realistic expectations for the 6-foot-2 combo guard Saturday.

“I wouldn’t expect anything. It is his first game trying to fit in,” she said. “At the same time, I wouldn’t be shocked if he does something spectacular.”

Self has said he’ll open with Selby playing “off the ball,” though in KU’s offense both the point guard and shooting guard bring the ball up-court, whichever player touches the ball first.

“I don’t see Josh being a 2 very long, but he is a scoring point guard,” Witherspoon said. “Any given night, one guy can emerge as scoring leader on this team. What I’m hoping he brings to the table is (to) defend the guards because they will be coming after him. We all know Josh can score (32.0 ppg, 7.0 apg, 5.0 rpg last year at Baltimore’s Lake Clifton High). Right now he has to prove he can be the energy guy because he does play with passion.

“Josh needs to be known for lockdown ‘D.’ I hope we see that.”

Witherspoon has seen improvement in her son just since his arrival on campus last summer.

For one thing, he has packed on pounds.

“He’s gotten big awfully fast. I don’t know what Kansas has in the water. I’d say he’s about 200 (pounds), with no fat on him,” Witherspoon said. “The first time I saw him (this semester), I said, ‘My goodness.’ I know Josh has always been a gym rat. He always wants to work on his body. It’s a job for him.”

Witherspoon was pleased to be able to see another sign of her son’s maturity on Tuesday night. She wandered over to Walmart to watch the Jayhawks’ annual Santa’s Helpers outing for charity.

“It was a really beautiful day when the university decided to do that,” Witherspoon said of the basketball program shopping for needy families over the holiday season. “One thing Josh said, ‘Doing this shows how blessed I am.’ He realizes not everybody has the opportunity to go to college. He understands how blessed he is to be in this situation.”

Witherspoon — she’s not yet decided whether to stay in Lawrence through the spring or head back to Baltimore — has enjoyed seeing her son’s growth.

“What’s the right word? It’s so shocking because everybody looks to him as ‘Josh Selby, ranked No. 1 in the country.’ To me, he is Josh, ‘Ma, can I get a hug?’ He is still a big mama’s boy. I don’t see him in the same light as everybody else,” she said.

“What I like the best (about KU) is it’s about all those kids, the whole team. The whole team is happy he’s a part of the team and now able to play. This team can do something special,” she added.


Randy Maxwell 7 years, 4 months ago

Wasn't every other players mom emotional when their son first stepped on a DI court? The Selby's must be so different. Guys this player is not a bigger recruit than Rush or Henry. He's definetly no Manning or Chamberlain who when KU got them it was a life changing experience. good luck to Josh can he ever live up to your hype?

Don Everett 7 years, 4 months ago

What a downer you are. This family has waited an extra 9 games to see Josh play. Danny and Wilt didn't wait that long. Yes, the wait did have some to do with the NCAA, but give the kid and his mom a break. There very well could be some more emotion than normal as at one point they didn't know how long he would be out. Yes, it is media hype to an extent, but comments like yours are not needed or helping matters. I would just as soon you go anywhere else as KU doesn't need a "fan" like you.

fansincewilt 7 years, 4 months ago

Did you see the McDonald's game? This kid is really good. When he was in the game he took it over. Even with all those hyped up recruits, he still controlled the game. I know that was just one game but he showed himself that night to be really good among the best with the ability to handle the spotlight (announcement that he was coming to KU). He could elevate us to a final four team.

jayhawktalk 7 years, 4 months ago

Maxhawk = kstate or misery fan

no way a real jayhawk poster would be this classless. unfortunate anyone would feel the need or be so petty as to find entertainment in these kinds of posts. bitter, bitter little people.

Gordon Penny 7 years, 4 months ago

Actually, Wilt had to wait a whole year because freshman were not allowed to play varsity ball back then.

Jim Roth 7 years, 4 months ago

Wilt waited a whole year. Freshmen weren't eligible to play then. Just saying...

Jim Roth 7 years, 4 months ago

I really need to remember to refresh before I post.

Matt Bowers 7 years, 4 months ago

Thanks Captain Bring Down. If Josh does live up to my hype then I will be the happiest Rock Chalker around! Good luck on day one Josh, I know that I can't wait to see you in uniform.

Rock Chalk

92Jhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Actually, he IS a bigger recruit than Rush and Henry...and he's on par with Danning Manning so I'm not sure what you're talking about (I was @ KU at the same time Manning was and have followed the recruiting process for 20 years...but I have no idea about the hype surrounding Wilt).

Will he live up to the hype? I don't know but this story isn't about Josh or hype, it's about a proud mother who loves her son and about her gratitude to Jayhawk Nation (so I hope she is not a frequent vistitor to this site) for the support it's shown her son.

As for the family "following the rules", I can see how blurry lines can be and were crossed and so can the NCAA which is why a mother will more than likely be crying in AFH on Saturday as she watches her baby boy take the court.

Ken Sedgwick 7 years, 4 months ago

Maxi-padhawk, your all wet, your full of yourself, and your stinkin up this board.

jayhawktalk 7 years, 4 months ago

Half these quotes are what I would expect HCBS would say if he were the parent of a child going through the same situation. I love her!

Please keep her close to Josh in Lawrence through the season. Maybe as assistant coach?

Not sure, Ms. Witherspoon, whether you will ever read this, but I am ridiculously excited to see your son take the court for the first time as a Jayhawk, and couldn't be more happy you are both part of the KU family and legacy!!!

kufan80 7 years, 4 months ago

I was thinking the same thing. Put her on the bench next to Danny Manning as a coach.

Great article and congratulations to the Selby family. Rock chalk.

hawk316 7 years, 4 months ago

Wow! I'm impressed with how "basketball savvy" this woman is! No wonder Josh is so far along.

Mrs. Witherspoon, thank you for sharing your son with the KU family.

100 7 years, 4 months ago

That is one classy & articulate mom you have Josh!

Welcome to Jayhawk nation!

(and we might need you as a coach someday if you keep that up, great interview & basketball IQ).

Dan Cook 7 years, 4 months ago

I've had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Witherspoon and she is a great lady, great mother. We're not only lucky to have Josh, but also his mom and family, as part of our extended family. Take your time Josh. We know it takes all freshmen guards some time to get into a groove. The next several games will be your pre-season and I think knowledgable fans, of which KU has plenty, will be very patient. No pressure young man, just go have fun and the rest will take care of itself. Rock Chalk!

Steve Brown 7 years, 4 months ago

Crimson & Blue Go KU.

We have had the best "mom's club" for about 30 years, KUAD should have a thank you alumni mom's dinner every year to (thank) them. Show old highlight reels, invite high school recruit mom's, bring your son or not, but if your kid wore the jersey you are invited, i don't fall into HC club, but it does take a village.

Marcia Parsons 7 years, 4 months ago

That's a really good idea. Moms probably suffer through more with their kids than any of us realize. There's probably an NCAA rule forbidding inviting the moms of recruits (why not--they have one against just about everything else pertaining to recruits), but the word would still get out. You should forward this suggestion to the acting AD.

voygr1 7 years, 4 months ago

Ms Witherspoon thanks for being the class person that you are!! Its easy to see why Josh has followed in your footsteps. I would hope that all of our future recruits in all sports can see how important family is and what it means. While I know Josh may only be here a short time when he does leave he will have the entire Jayhawk nation in his corner. You are both a part of the Jayhawk nation and family for life!!! To all of your family Thanks!!!

minnhawk84 7 years, 4 months ago

Come on Hawk fans in the Lawrence area, find this intelligent and articulate woman a job and a place to live so she can stay......

planojayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Never post before, but after reading your typical repuklican cold blooded school yard immature no brain big jerk bully comments, I can't resist to show my total rejection of your classless comments.

Go away. We don't need your kind here.

92Jhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Couldn't agree more that Max made some harsh and unwarranted comments...BUT, as a proud conservative, I'm every bit as offended by your "repuklican" comment. Libs who feel they have a monopoly on compassion cause me to shake my head in sadness.

Scott Oswalt 7 years, 4 months ago

Hey Maxhawk - you're what the French call les incompetents.

esteshawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Max- this post doesn't say "city or the state or the governments" find her a job. This was reaching out to the fans. Don't let your bias do your thinking for you.

Adam Collins 7 years, 4 months ago

All I ask for is one break away dunk by Selby this year. Just one. My guess for his dunk selection: between the legs.

Coyotehawk 7 years, 4 months ago

That wont happen.

Coach wasnt happy with Relefords reverse, he deff wont allow a between the legs.

Martin Rosenblum 7 years, 4 months ago

To me, he is Josh, ‘Ma, can I get a hug?’ - Josh's mom

He will get the largest hug of his life starting Saturday from Jayhawk Nation!

REHawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Nice article, Gary. Would be dandy if Ms Witherspoon could stay in Lawrence for the remainder of Josh's collegiate playing time. Good luck, Josh. Please don't feel the need to push too hard in this Saturday contest. As other posters have said, the Jayhawk Nation is very knowledgeable about basketball. We know that it will take time for the adjustment, and we are aware of your skills. Have some fun Saturday. Think defense and ball control. Your scoring opportunities will come.

Bryan Hurford 7 years, 4 months ago

I absolutely did not like or agree with the suspension. Although has given me a very heightened excited anticipation that I would not have had otherwise. It not that I expect every time Josh touches the ball to be a highlight reel, it is more like a family member being away for years and has come home.

FSUJHAWK 7 years, 4 months ago

Selby Family = Very Classy Jayhawk Family = Beyond Awesomeness

NCAA GANG = Hypocrites

Show them what you're made of JS! RCJHGKU!!!

Coyotehawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Lets see some titles for the Henry family. ;)

92Jhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

I didn't think that it was possible but I've just become a bigger fan of the Selby/Witherspoon family. I can see why Josh is growing into such a nice young man.

This story is full of insights into Josh and his mother but the line that hit me the most was:

“One thing Josh said, ‘Doing this shows how blessed I am.’ He realizes not everybody has the opportunity to go to college. He understands how blessed he is to be in this situation.”

This is a young man who gets it. This season is full of gifts for all Jayhawk fans. During a regular year, we spend months waiting for that first game of the season with anticipation, this year, we get that game one feeling TWICE!

Dean Huggins 7 years, 4 months ago

+1. Both on Gary's behalf and for the genuine & prudent quotes. RCJH.

Ryan Sullivan 7 years, 4 months ago

Maxhawk Have the holidays really got you down or what? Seriously, what's your deal? Seems like you have a personal problem with this 18 year old kid and his mom. Have you met them? Do you know them? Did they cut you off in traffic or something? Have some egg nog and shut the hell up.

chaggs 7 years, 4 months ago

Thank you Ms Witherspoon...for lending KU your son for a time.

HawkInAL 7 years, 4 months ago

Not the typical- "He's excited and we're excited." drivel.

You can definitely tell that Josh's mom played and that she really understands the game based on her assessment of the Jayhawks, Josh's game, and what to expect from him in his first game. Also, she knows what he needs to do to get where he wants to be. She mentioned that he needs to be known as a lockdown defender, which was the primary concern of NBA scouts, along with his perimeter shooting. That just goes to show that he picked the right coach to play for- if he doesn't play the defense that Self expects he'll take a seat.

I expect a solid overall performance with a couple of flashes of greatness, including a tomahawk dunk on a fast break. Wouldn't mind to see him break out the crossover either.....

KUbsee69 7 years, 4 months ago

“He’s gotten big awfully fast. I don’t know what Kansas has in the water."

It's not the water, it's Andrea Hudy ... at true KU prize.

Also, how about a new name for MAXHAWK ... like MINHAWK!

Clarence Haynes 7 years, 4 months ago

Hey Maxhawk! This is not a comparative analysis of those great players preceding Josh. This a story about Josh's first game as a 'hawk and what it means to his family! I recently went through W Baltimore and believe me, anyone living there is lucky to have survived those elements (I never have seen many police surveillance cameras in my life)! Best of luck Josh and continue to exhibilt good character and athleticism that will make Jayhawk's proud of you! We continue to support you!

Greg Lux 7 years, 4 months ago

What a wonderful story. I am so proud of Josh's MOM for all the sacrifices she has taken to give her son a true chance at a wonderful life. And to Josh for his ability to stay away from the hood and make something of himself. This is the type of story we need more of in the country if we are going to be successful down the road. Kudos all around to that wonderful family. Welcome Jayhawks forever.

Rock Chalk

Ann Oneill 7 years, 4 months ago

Imagine how proud Mom would be if Josh stayed for four years and got his degree!!!! (hint, hint)

Marcia Parsons 7 years, 4 months ago

In the article that's linked in the above story, she says she doesn't believe in the one and done rule. Also that he's given her half of what she asked for by getting into college. The other half is a diploma.

lee3022 7 years, 4 months ago

Holy mama! Can we please get a class for parents of H.S. basketball players to be taught by Mrs. Witherspoon? Make an instructional video? This is one classy lady!

I was so delighted by the quotes from Josh yesterday and now we see the source. This is one hot mama who knows where the earth meets the sky - grounded and focused on the right things. Get your degree Josh! This will be your most satisfying and rewarding years of your career. One and done does not suit you and you deserve more than instant money.Of course as a KU alum my bias is showing as I want you for ourselves as long as possible.

Thanks to Gary whose ability to illuminate a great woman without getting in the way deserves kudos as well.

Carolyn Hunzicker 7 years, 4 months ago

Hey MAMA SELBY, you be real sure and keep your son in college...That college degree is something...........Good Luck You have a very nice and polite did good !

Carolyn Hunzicker 7 years, 4 months ago

Hey MAMA SELBY, you be real sure and keep your son in college...That college degree is something...........Good Luck You have a very nice and polite did good !

AverageCitizen 7 years, 4 months ago

Love ya, Ms. Witherspoon! You and Josh have had such a tough early go of it, Josh should stick around for his degree. I didn't know it at the time but my college years were some of the best of my life. Josh should enjoy these fun times before going to the NBA because even tons of money can't buy the memories he is making now. They are the best carefree days of his life!

You and Josh are now our family and always will be. You've done a good job raising your boy. RCJH!

Adam Collins 7 years, 4 months ago

Don't know if this has already been posted, but I thought it was pretty cool to see into Selby's world before heading to KU.

KU_FanSince75 7 years, 4 months ago

Dang, Dynamite----everytime I see those youtube clips, it really gets me fired up for Josh.

@ slaterman------thanks for sharing your clip. I had not seen that one before.

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