After strong showing at the LeBron James Skills Academy this week at the University of Akron, Wayne Selden found himself sitting in his hotel room Friday night wondering how he was going to get down to Little Rock, Ark. today to join his Boston Amateur Basketball Club in the AAU Ninth Grade Championship.
Not sure of what time his flight was to leave, the Roxbury resident decided to give it the ol' college try and pull an all-nighter. He left for the airport today at 3:30 a.m., flew out at 7 and caught "maybe an hour" of sleep on the plane (thanks to a connector flight in Atlanta) before touching down in Little Rock at 11 a.m. and heading straight to the gym at Phillander Smith College to join his team.
Regrettable decision? Selden said at first he "felt nothing", but about three minutes into the championship game with the Louisiana-based Ascension Jaguars, "I didn't have my legs, I was exhausted."
Ultimately, the 6-foot-4 Selden persevered to lead the club with 20 points and chipped in five assists to lead the BABC to a 78-66 win and the national championship.
"I knew I had to be with the team," Selden said. "They worked so hard to get here, I felt I had to work hard and push through. It was all in the mind."
New Bedford native and St. Andrew's forward Bonzie Colson also had 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Fall River native and Putnam Science forward Tyree Robinson had 15 points, eight rebounds and five blocks to contribute to the win.
"It’s a beautiful feeling," said coach Eggie McRae. "It's been a long year, but it was worth every minute of it after grabbing that big trophy."
BABC trailed just once through the entire tournament, today when the Jaguars scored the opening basket. And while the impact today of Selden was evident -- the Tilton (N.H.) swingman is currently the No. 2 shooting guard and No. 7 overall player in the Class of 2014 -- this tournament run was more testament to the arrival of undersized point guard Jonathan Joseph.
With a short bench and no backup point, the 5-foot-8 Brockton resident -- who earlier this year was named to ESPNBoston's All-Freshman Team -- excelled with clean entry passes to the bigs and scorers like Selden, Curtis Cobb and Damion Smith. McRae's troops preferred to attack from the inside out, so when Joseph was left open on the wing he made the opposition pay.
"People thought I'm too small to run a team," said Joseph, who is transferring to Putnam Science Academy (Conn.) and will re-classify to the Class of 2015. "But honestly, I don’t think size has anything to do with it. It's about how big your heart is. I have the biggest heart, and nobody's taking that away."
Said McRae, "We had the best point guard in the tournament. He just ran the show. Little Johnny joseph, dictated tempo, made all the right decisions, gave everybody good looks."
Added Selden, "He knows how to set up. He may make a bad decision one in a while, but overall he's the one that got us to the national championship."
KING JAMES EDITION
Selden's getting some much-needed rest tonight, but his final day at LeBron Skills Academy will no doubt be on his mind forever.
On the final day, Selden got to run alongside his idol as LeBron James joined in on some scrimmages. On one fast break, James fed Selden a behind-the-back pass for a dunk.
"I loved it," Selden said. "He's my favorite player, and playing against the best competition, it was just a real good experience."