Friday, July 16, 2010

Miami doesn’t interest former Jayhawk Simien

All-American happy in Lawrence raising family, working as director of Called to Greatness ministry

Former Kansas University basketball standout Wayne Simien has retired from professional basketball and has started Called to Greatness, a Christian-based sports organization through Morning Star Christian Church, 998 N. 1771 Road, and Midwest Student Ministries.

Former Kansas University basketball standout Wayne Simien has retired from professional basketball and has started Called to Greatness, a Christian-based sports organization through Morning Star Christian Church, 998 N. 1771 Road, and Midwest Student Ministries.


A 2005 first-round draft pick of the Miami Heat, Wayne Simien isn’t tempted to come out of retirement to join the LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh-led squad in South Beach during the 2010-11 season.

Simien-led basketball program ends

The Call to Greatness summer basketball program at Free State High School wound down Thursday. Wayne Simien hosted the camp, which featured more than 50 high school athletes.

“I’ve been getting a lot of jokes about that, but that’s not going to be the case for me,” said Simien, a former Kansas University All-American who retired from basketball in May of 2009 after playing two seasons with the Heat and one in Spain.

He was speaking Thursday on the final day of his third-annual Called to Greatness basketball camp at Free State High.

“Literally, you can’t pay me to play right now. I enjoy what I’m doing now more than being somewhere playing basketball. I appreciate the opportunity to play in the NBA and overseas, but I’m really excited about what I’m doing now.”

That is living in Lawrence with his wife, Katie, daughters Selah (2) and Rael (1) and son, Simon (5 months), and working as director of his Called to Greatness ministry out of Morning Star Church. He’s also team chaplain for KU’s basketball and football teams and ready to take on an expanded role in mentoring athletes in all KU sports starting this August.

“There’s nothing I enjoy more than being a husband and father. It’s great to be able to do that back in the great community of Lawrence,” said the 27-year-old Simien, who was born and raised in Leavenworth.

“My main focus was with the men’s basketball team this past year,” added Simien, who started mentoring football players after Turner Gill was named coach. “Lew Perkins (AD) and the rest of the athletic department kind of want to expand that to the other athletic programs, which I’m excited to do. Whether the title (of his job) is official or not, it’s something I’m doing on a volunteer basis.”

His duties are simple.

“I go to practices, go to games, meet with players individually and do some motivational speaking with teams,” he said. “I don’t need an office. I’m not in a suit and tie or anything like that. Nothing is mandatory. It’s completely up to the coaches or if the players see me on campus and want some encouragement or have a question about something they are going through, I’m going to make myself available to help them through that.”

Simien worked with about 100 youths during Thursday’s final four-hour session of his camp. At one point, the 6-foot-9, 250-pounder stopped the action and asked the players to sit on the floor as he read passages and taught lessons from the Bible.

“We have ministry time every day. We feel that is the most important time of the camp,” Simien said. “A lot of the kids may not be able to hear that on a regular basis, to be provided an encouraging message from the Bible. We coach from a biblical perspective and of course teach them fundamentals of the game of basketball as well.

“The purpose of the camp,” Simien explained, “is to communicate the true call to greatness that we have. The greatness isn’t found in their athletic achievements or how popular they are or how much money they have, but the greatness is found in being sons of God, and we encourage them that the greatest person they could ever follow in their life is Jesus Christ, and we are able to communicate that through the game of basketball.”

One of his Simien’s KU teammates, Aaron Miles, stopped by with his young son.

Miles, who played professionally in Greece last season, spoke to the youths after a series of drills.

“It’s great because Wayne’s giving back to kids, giving back in general,” Miles said. “It’s something he is passionate about, so I support him. He is a standup guy, a great person, great friend, great husband, great family man. Even as my teammate and a friend of mine, I look up to him as far as what he does. He’s still admired by his peers.”

Simien has a big school year coming up.

He’ll be inducted into the KU Athletics Hall of Fame in September and have his jersey hung in the fieldhouse rafters in a halftime ceremony of a yet-to-be-determined game sometime this winter.

“I’m hoping to have it on a Saturday afternoon game so I can have some family come in to be a part of that,” Simien said. “I got a call a few days ago saying I’ll be inducted into the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame, I believe Sept. 25. I’m really excited. It’ll be a good fall.


overseashawk 9 years, 7 months ago

Congrats Wayne. Having your jersey hung in Allen Fieldhouse has to be the greatest honor that can be bestowed upon a Kansas basketball player. As a fellow Leavenworthian I can honestly say that you've been and continue to be a tremendous inspiration to our community. I'm sure the same can be said for Lawrence.

Dillon Davis 9 years, 7 months ago

Couldn't happen to a more deserving guy. He spoke at my baccalaureate this past spring and i got to meet him personally and he is just the coolest guy. Saying yeah stop by morningstar church and come and talk to me anytime and he's just a real stand up guy.

100 9 years, 7 months ago

Wayne already has something from Miami that Lebron, Dwayne & Chris Bosh might not ever get:

A ring.

For those wanting to see it, he gave it to KU as a gift and it's on display in Allen Fieldhouse.

How ironic is it that basketball's life story since 1891 comes full circle with Wayne: a minister created the game and brought the cradle of basketball to Lawrence, to first give daily devotionals before even thinking a moment about coaching a team at KU.

This is the same professor who hated everything about what the professional game was doing to his sport.

Naismith and Wayne Simien, two Jayhawks, two great men, separated by only a blink of the Universe's eye.

Ryan Richey 9 years, 7 months ago

Mmmhhh...don't get me wrong...I LOVE Wayne. But Dwayne won Wayne that ring while he sat on the sidelines in a suit.

Alec White 9 years, 7 months ago

If anyone has ever single-handedly won a series, it was Dwayne Wade in the 06' Finals. Just because Wayne was an all-time great Jayhawk doesn't mean we have to lie to ourselves and say he was an integral part of that championship squad. He dropped 35ppg, 8rbs, and 4ass per game...which pretty much dictated who won the series.

TenaciousD 9 years, 7 months ago

ProudKansan - Good point.

Anthonyzal - you might want to take a spoonful of reality.

Steven Mathew 9 years, 7 months ago

TenaciousD, anthonyzal was just speaking the technical truth. That would be like saying Rodrick Stewart didn't deserve the 08 Championship ring. But we all know he did deserve it. So you might wanna take a spoonful of reality.

TenaciousD 9 years, 7 months ago

Not that Rodrick doesn't deserve a ring, but that they probably would have won the championship without him on the team that year. Now without Rush, Robinson, Chalmers, Kaun, Jackson?.... Could have been a much different story.

Not all players have the same value to a team.

kcn18 9 years, 7 months ago

Dwayne Wade has a ring and the only reason Wayne has a ring is because of Wade. Wayne Simien hardly even played or didn't even play a min. on Miami's championship run. So basically he was like Adam Morrison for the Lakers.

kcn18 9 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Matt Bowers 9 years, 7 months ago

kcn18 the point is not how he got the ring but what he did with it. Why can't people just be happy for Wayne and grateful that he spends his time trying to mentor youth. As an educator, I can tell you that we need a lot more people like that. How about you stop hating and start helping.

Thanks for everything Wayne, I think this is great.

Rock Chalk

overseashawk 9 years, 7 months ago

Wayne wasn't on Miami's post season roster. He was on the bench though (in street clothes) and did get a ring thanks to Dwayne Wade. Wayne donated his ring to the KU athletic department....pretty classy.

gutter 9 years, 7 months ago

Life isn't about winning and having rings. I wish those who read this story about Wayne would realize that what Wayne is doing is so much more impressive "than winning a ring". God Bless Wayne Simien.

Steve Yeakel 9 years, 7 months ago

What a great inspiration and wise man to put God first in his life, like Daniel, Joseph, Moses, Peter, Paul, and many others. What a great example for us to follow, to put Jesus Christ first in our life and follow Him, which gives us true priorities for life. Thank you Wayne, may God richly bless you and yours in serving Him.

overseashawk 9 years, 7 months ago

Gutter, a comment about Wayne "winning a ring" isn't in any way inappropriate to post here. The omission of religious expression is also OKAY. Everyone here is a Jayhawk fan and are supportive of Wayne Simien no matter what he endeavors.

KGphoto 9 years, 7 months ago

I can't believe he's only 27. Prime of his career. He should lace 'em up and donate another ring. His basketball window is finite. I'm pretty sure God will still be there when he's done. Besides, he can always donate his earnings to the church, if it makes him feel better.

While his character is commendable, I'm sure he would still love to get a nice pass on the low post and score against the Lakers in the Finals. He's 27!! He's the same age as the Miami three egos. You know he wants to be out there.

I want him out there!

Dirk Medema 9 years, 7 months ago

The point isn't whether God will be there in a year, but whether the many hundreds athletes and campers will be. You may want him to be there, and you obviously think that he wants to be out there, but I am real confident that when he says “Literally, you can’t pay me to play right now. I enjoy what I’m doing now more than being somewhere playing basketball." that he really does mean it.

There are those that find it even more enjoyable to see others succeed (or keep from failing again) than to succeed themselves. Wayne realizes that someone gave up far more glory than any of the Lakers experienced in the finals so that he could succeed. The example that he has seen motivates him to do the same; to give of himself so that others can succeed.

Rock on Wayne.

KGphoto 9 years, 7 months ago

Oh, I see.

"There are those that find it even more enjoyable to see others succeed (or keep from failing again) than to succeed themselves."

So, you're saying he's not successful? I never said what he's doing now isn't a success story. But if you think he'd turn down an offer to play for Miami, you're high. Sadly, that offer isn't there. So he's doing life choice #2. It's not a crime. I'm on life choice #4, I think. So, get off your moral soapbox for a minute and face reality. We've all put other's lives first. Anyone with children does it everyday. We volunteer, donate, help old ladies cross the street, etc.

He's a good kid, doing good work. The End.

Tim Bingaman 9 years, 7 months ago

It's nice that Wayne is happy with his life, but the fact is that he isn't in the NBA because that ship has passed... Unless I missed the part about him getting a call from Riley or any other GM?

Good Luck Wayne!

Scott Smetana 9 years, 7 months ago

Best Post Moves Ever. Smooth down low. Classy.

justinryman 9 years, 7 months ago

Funny how people thought Head Football coach Turner Gill was such a Bible beater and yet praise Wayne for his work. What a double edge sword some carry.

Both men are great for the university and all the mentoring they are doing not only for young athletes but for anyone who needs it.

Class acts Wayne, good luck and you will do great things.

justinryman 9 years, 7 months ago

You are right, two men trying to help out today's youth make the right choices in life. So completely different, unless you are counting thier sports, then you have a point.

Randy Bombardier 9 years, 7 months ago

Hear, hear! Funny how many people don't like outspokenness in Faith in a leader, but amazing how that is manifested in his charges. Guys like Coach Gill, Wayne, Darell Stuckey are great role models, great ambassadors and just good people who raise great families. We need more men like these in our society.

bradynsdad 9 years, 7 months ago

its funny how people are arguing wether he deserved a ring. the obvious fact is he doesnt have one, he gave it to the school he loves. how many other people have done that? a man of god doesnt care about worldly possessions. i never really knew this was the type of person wayne was but now i have a whole new level of respect for him. more universitys need mentors like wayne.

RockChalk26 9 years, 7 months ago

No one can argue that Wayne isn't a good guy. But does he deserve to have his jersey hung in the fieldhouse?

RockChalk26 9 years, 7 months ago

It is people like you who make it hard to engage in conversation on this site. All I wanted to do is fire up a conversation and get peoples feedback on different topics. Then you come in calling people loons and anti-past jayhawks. Where do you get off?

If you have something to say, have your take and don't suck.

Will Babbit 9 years, 7 months ago

I actually think that the hanging of jerseys has gotten a little out of hand the last 5-10 years. If a player is marginally better than the rest of the team or makes it to the NBA their jersey gets retired...Drew Gooden? Seriously?

okiedave 9 years, 7 months ago

What a great addition to the community of Lawrence. So glad to hear the Wayne has found his niche after pro-ball. 3 small kids and great wife, doing work he loves, living in Lawrence - doesn't get any better than that -- unless the 3 small kids grow up to be great teenagers - that is when you know it does not get any better.

John Sheehan 9 years, 7 months ago

What a stupid headline. I love Simien but dislike headlines put out just to get our attention. The headline isn't really what the article is about. It's about what Big Wayne is up to. KUSPORTS - you don't have to be the freakin' National Enquierer and give headlines to draw us in...we love KU and will read even your worst articles!

And a dose of reality, Miami would probably interest Big Dub if they were interested in him. Glad to hear all the good things he does...he's doing God's work. But if he had a contract OFFER for a million bucks I bet he would take it to have more money to do more of God's work later in life.

100 9 years, 7 months ago

Wade has a ring. He won it all by himself.

I stand corrected.

100 9 years, 7 months ago

I suppose I was too busy remembering Wade's last college game against Simien's college team (Team) to even consider the minute possibility that Wade had won a championship.

And yes, I do remember Simien in street clothes at the end of the season where Wade won the ring for Wayne all by himself.

Simien was a team player (one of the best post players in the historyof college ball) put on an NBA team with a ball hog, as well as an overgrown 300 pound big man.

Simien would have fit in very well with the type of NBA teams that Nick Collison played on, where the 6'10" forwards are pulled away from the goal to allow individual moves and passes from your forwards.

Wayne's role on the Heat was laughable. Riley didn't know what to do with him, he had him wandering around the perimeter at times, occassionally clogging up the middle in too tallville. All Riley had to do was post him up at the elbow occassionally to get results and flash down. Or develop him!

Let's face it, he was a stud of a power forward with a soft 17 footer, who needed a year or two more years development.

In short he was a bad fit with Riley and that squad and (back to my original post), saw what was really important in life.

I commend him for that. Wayne's new purpose was the entire reason for Naismith's invention to begin with -- to reach a higher purpose through one amazing sport (whether you want to call that , Charlie Horse, God, mother nature, "betterness", "righteousness", Buddha, or whatever, the point is the same).

Become one with yourself and humanity through the world's greatest game while getting stellar exercise: Reach out to the youth. Reach not for money or fame for this greed is and will always be man's biggest weakness besides Samantha Ryan.

hawk316 9 years, 7 months ago

STL_HAWK, regarding the possibility of Wayne responding to any interest shown in him by Miami, I choose to take Wayne at his word. He said, "literally, you can't pay me to play right now. I enjoy what I'm doing now more than being somewhere playing basketball." These are the words of a man who has found God's true purpose for his life. No amount of money or fame can come close to supplying that kind of satisfaction.

And I absolutely love it that he is now serving as chaplain for some of our athletic teams. What a positive impact he will be able to make in the lives of these young athletes! This can a tough age for many as they try to sort out things and "find themselves." Having a wise and caring mentor such as Wayne can make a huge difference. I'm glad to know that Lew is supportive of this. Great move!

hawk780 9 years, 7 months ago

I love this line, "A 2005 first-round draft pick of the Miami Heat, Wayne Simien isn’t tempted to come out of retirement to join the LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh-led squad in South Beach during the 2010-11 season."

Miami traded him to the Timberwolves, how would Miami even be a option if he were to come out of retirement? They didnt want him then, so they would want him now with Wade, Lebron and Bosh? Come on LJ World. He played in 8 games the season Wade and the Heat won the ring he donated-big contribution to the title run.

kcn18 9 years, 7 months ago

Former Jayhawk Simien doesn't interest Miami

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 7 months ago

From another Leavenworth and KU graduate, Wayne you have always made us proud.

Hank Cross 9 years, 7 months ago

Best of luck to Wayne Simeon and I'm glad he's found his life's true calling. But, let's be honest, this is a non-story. It's doubtful the Heat even remember who he is, much less want to have him back. I really don't agree with his number being retired either. Then again, I think those two Helms foundation "national championhips" are bogus and should be taken down. KU has more than enough histroy and great players to have a great trophy wall w/o commemorating players who will be forgotten 10 years after they played and national championships that never existed.

100 9 years, 7 months ago

Then you need to take away all National football titles from teams before the BCS came along.

Those were voted on the same way KU received their national champion votes in 1922 & 1923.

Phog always called those his best teams. So...

  1. Find me a better team in 1922.

  2. Find me a better (undefeated mind you) team in 1923.

That's what I thought.

We were hands down the best team both years.

They just didn't have an NCAA tournament just like a few years ago there was no BCS.

Deal with it brother -- we were back to back champions in '22 and '23, before "the BCS" if you will...

John Wooden spoke extensively about those two KU teams, listening on the radio at home in Indiana, a move that later on resulted in him visiting Lawrence and gaining summer employment here.

There is no reason to not celebrate those two years -- we were loaded and Paul Endacott was the Michael Jordan of the time with a fighter's spirit, a local kid born and raised right here in Lawrence.

Don't hate....


Hank Cross 9 years, 7 months ago

Your football analogy doesn't apply because the Helms foundation awarded the titles a least a decade AFTER the 1922 and 1923 seasons. By contrast, teams who won the pre-BCS CFB 'mythical championship' were aware that they were playing for a championship DURING the season. This affected how they played the game, including settling for ties to remain undefeated. Would the '22 and '23 teams played as well knowing they were playing for a mythical title? Maybe they would've or maybe the would've choked. We don't know and that's the point.

BTW during the last Thursday or Friday of the 'Big 12 Crisis' HCBS stated to the press conference that he didn't see how a program with so much history, including THREE national championships could be sent to a mid-major.

Hank Cross 9 years, 7 months ago

As Rock Chalk said above, you're a loon. I've been a KU fan for decades and have forgotten more about them than you'll ever know, KU didn't beat Syracuse because of free-throw shooting. Further, they had two All-Americans on that team who should've been able to pick up the slack.

Simien was a very good player, but his name does not belong up there with names like Lovellette, Chamberlain, Manning and Pierce.

Ryan Mullen 9 years, 7 months ago

“Literally, you can’t pay me to play right now. I enjoy what I’m doing now more than being somewhere playing basketball. I appreciate the opportunity to play in the NBA and overseas, but I’m really excited about what I’m doing now.”

Of course he not interested in the NBA grind and getting paid. He is probably getting paid better working for the ministry than he would be in the league. I think it is wonderful what he is doing keep up the good work Wayne. And keep making the big dollars doing what you love.

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