Once Josh Selby returns, Kansas becomes a title contender

The chants of "We Want Selby" that echoed through Phog Allen Fieldhouse during Kansas' first few games did not fall on deaf ears.

Elite recruit Josh Selby will make his long-anticipated college debut Dec. 18 against USC after the NCAA ruled Friday that he must sit out the first nine games of the regular season and pay back $5,757.58 in impermissible benefits to a charity of his choice.

The nine-game suspension is a result of gifts Selby accepted from Bay Frazier, a former classmate of his mother and the business manager for Denver Nuggets wing Carmelo Anthony. According to Kansas, Selby received clothes, transportation, meals and lodging for himself and his family prior to his arrival in Lawrence.

"I'm happy I got everything over with the NCAA. I did nothing wrong," Selby said Friday in a postgame news conference. "I'm just happy that it's not the entire year because it could have been worse than it is."

If the NCAA ruling Enes Kanter permanently ineligible two weeks ago knocked Kentucky from the ranks of the top title contenders, the show of leniency for Selby elevates Kansas back to that upper echelon. Sure, he'll miss potential marquee games against UCLA, Arizona and Memphis, but he'll be back in time for conference play and fully integrated into Kansas' system by NCAA tournament time.

Selby, Rivals.com's No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2010, provides Kansas with an athletic high-scoring guard capable of setting up his teammates, shooting from the perimeter or finishing at the rim. Pair the 6-foot-2 Selby with Tyshawn Taylor and Brady Morningstar in the backcourt and the Morris twins down low, and that's a lineup that can not only lead Kansas to a share of an eighth straight Big 12 title but also propel the Jayhawks deep into the NCAA tournament.

"From this point forward, we can practice (Selby) in a way, mentor him in a way and tutor him in a way that on the 18th, the transition is more seamless," Kansas coach Bill Self said in a postgame news conference Friday. "He's going to have a coach work with him every possession so he can absorb as much as we can, but I still think it's going to be conference play before the team learns how to play with him."

So far without Selby, Kansas has rolled to a 3-0 start against the likes of Longwood, Valparaiso and North Texas. Having him back will nonetheless be a huge boost because the Jayhawks will need him once the schedule stiffens.

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