MEMPHIS, Tenn. —Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace ended Josh Selby's slide in the NBA Draft. Now he's putting all the pressure of sticking around on the young guard's shoulders.
Wallace introduced Selby to reporters in Memphis on Friday afternoon. The general manager even recreated a moment Selby missed by being picked 49th overall, making Selby stand up before presenting him with a Grizzlies' hat the guard would have been given by NBA commissioner David Stern if he had been drafted in the first round.
The general manager said he hopes luck has shined on the Grizzlies in finding a talented player at No. 49, but he admitted they took Selby based off his high school pedigree and not what he did in his lone year at Kansas.
"I know Josh is disappointed the draft didn't quite go his way. It was an up and down season for him this year at the University of Kansas, but now this is the beginning of his professional career. We're starting here with a blank slate, and we're anxious to see what this very talented young man can do," Wallace said.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"It's all up to him now. He's jumping on what we call a moving train coming off the best season of the franchise. Josh, the challenge is for you to come in here, show us your talent and make coach (Lionel) Hollins have to play you, OK?"
The Grizzlies are coming off their deepest playoff run, going seven games in the Western Conference semifinals before losing to Oklahoma City.
The 6-foot-3 Selby was a high school star coming out of Lake Clifton High in Baltimore in 2009-10 after averaging 32 points and seven assists. But he was suspended for the first nine games at Kansas for accepting impermissible benefits in high school, and then he was hampered by a stress fracture in his foot. He left college averaging 7.9 points and 2.2 assists.
Selby said he couldn't believe it when he heard he was drafted by the Grizzlies. He said he was sitting in the car with his mother listening to the radio when he heard the news and started crying. But he said he's been to Memphis before and loves the city.
He's also eager to play after an injury that he said held him back at Kansas. He sees Memphis as a great situation because he knows Rudy Gay already, and the Grizzlies also have former Kansas Jayhawks on the roster in Darrell Arthur and Xavier Henry.
"I didn't have the season everybody expected me to have," Selby said. "I'm just going to try to prove that I'm supposed to be here in this NBA along with everyone else."
Selby was asked about criticism of his maturity and character. He said he doesn't usually say anything because he knows that's not who he is, and he sees Memphis as a clean slate to change that perception.
"They say I'm cocky. I don't think I'm cocky at all. I just have a certain way I carry myself," Selby said. "They say I have a temper, a bad attitude. I don't have that at all."
Selby will be joining about 19 free agents at a minicamp this weekend with practices today and Sunday. Wallace said this camp will help replace the summer league. The NBA has less than a week before the collective bargaining agreement expires, and the Grizzlies continue looking for more three-point shooters and a post player who could spell Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.