LAWRENCE — There's a personality vacuum in Allen Fieldhouse, and the Kansas Jayhawks have to fill it. Some of them think they can do it by coming together as a team, some of them think one guy will emerge, while others have no clue how to replace the unmistakable charisma of Sherron Collins.
"I don't think anyone is like Sherron," KU junior Markieff Morris said. "The way his swag was, I don't think you can compare anybody to him."
For two years, they were all Collins' "young fellas." Even the old fellas like fifth-year senior Brady Morningstar were in awe of Collins' presence.
"He used to have the crowd in his hands," Morningstar said. "If he told them to stand up, they'd all stand up. If he told them to sit down, they'd all sit down."
In the days leading up to Collins' Senior Night last year, the usually unsentimental Bill Self had to compose himself while talking about a player who had clearly become an all-time favorite. Now Collins is gone for good, pursuing an NBA career with the Charlotte Bobcats, but Self wasn't overly emotional on Tuesday afternoon at KU's media day because he believes one player on this year's roster could be just as special.
"A lot depends on our young guy," Self said. "He certainly brings a lot of the same attributes that Sherron did."
He is Josh Selby, a 6-foot-2 freshman guard from Baltimore who was rated the No. 1 player in the 2010 class by Rivals.com. Self went out of his way to compare Selby to Collins, saying Selby reminds him of a "bigger Sherron," and why not? This is Kansas, and, as Self enters his eighth season in Lawrence, he understands that Selby's Jayhawks will be as good or better than Collins' Jayhawks for no other reason than that they have to be.
"Kansas math is unique," Self said. "My first year here, you lose (Nick) Collison and Kirk (Hinrich), but you're supposed to be better. That's Kansas math. It's kind of the same thing this year."
Of course, there's one problem: In the current Selby equation, he is a variable, not a constant. Selby's amateur status is being investigated by the NCAA, which is looking into his relationship with fellow Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony's business manager, Robert "Bay" Frazier.
Selby has not yet been cleared to play in games during the 2010-11 season, and Self said Tuesday he still has no timetable for when a decision will be reached. He can only hope it will be soon because, as of now, the Jayhawks are proceeding as if Selby will be cleared. He'll be unveiled at "Late Night at the Phog" on Friday night, and Self made him available for interviews on Tuesday.
Selby was asked why Self said he had the same kind of qualities as Collins.
"You know, from Baltimore especially, we had our own swagger," Selby said. "When you hear Baltimore, you hear hard work, dedication. Hopefully, I can live up to it."
Collins would say the same things about Chicago, describing it as a place that hardened him as a player.
"Me and Sherron both bring toughness," Selby said.
Morningstar is Collins' best friend, and even he was willing to see it that way.
"Josh kind of has the same personality as Sherron does," Morningstar said. "Just inner-city toughness."
Selby is not the only candidate to fill Collins' void, and that's a good thing, considering he may not see the floor. Self said juniors Marcus and Markieff Morris have evolved into leaders and that fellow junior Tyshawn Taylor has made strides off the court, too, in the last year.
"We need them to have a personality and be leaders," Self said, "but just being real candid, Josh brings a lot of that to the table on his own. Much likeæ.æ.æ. well, maybe like no other player we've had since we've been here in this early stage in his career."