Selby remains secret to scouts

January 09, 1994|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Contributing Writer

Wardell Selby longs for the day when his phone will ring.

Just one little call from a college recruiter is all it would take to make Eastern Technical's 6-foot-4 center a happy man.

A natural point guard forced by circumstance to start for the Mavericks at center, Selby averages nearly 14 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots.

Yet not a peep. Not a letter.

"He's the best-kept secret in Baltimore County," said Mavericks coach Joel Bailey.

As a 17-year-old senior who's only been playing organized basketball for four years, Selby might be the best local player you've never heard of.

"I keep on thinking that if I would have started playing basketball when I was 8 or 9, I might be more well known like a Kevin Simpson or Terrance Payne," said Selby, who has played against the highly recruited Southern and Lake Clifton stars in summer ball.

"I started later, so I need to work harder to get the notoriety."

In a relatively short period of time, Selby -- the tallest player for the Mavericks -- has developed a tremendous knack for rebounding. He pulled down 19 boards in a recent game against Lansdowne.

But at the same time, he has worked hard to nurture his more natural abilities as a point guard, learning to handle the ball, dish out assists and extend his shooting range to beyond 15 feet.

"Playing center has made me a lot tougher," said Selby, "but I'm a whole lot better when I handle the ball. Whenever I play street ball, it doesn't matter who it's against, I want to be the point guard and work on my one-on-one moves."

L The center showed off his talents in the win over Lansdowne.

Though he dominated in the paint, controlling the boards and blocking five shots, he also burned the Vikings from the perimeter.

"He wasn't just a one-dimensional player," said Lansdowne coach Mike Cromer. "He was real tough on us on the offensive boards, and he just killed us inside. But he also ran the floor nicely and hit a couple of jumpers."

Selby credits much of his success to his father, Wardell, who for years has coached an AAU girls team featuring some of the best high school players in the area.

Over the years, the elder Selby has taught his son many of the skills that have led to his success.

Ironically, though, Selby said it was his father's heavy involvement with basketball that nearly kept him out of the sport.

"Growing up, I was around it so much that I guess I just got tired of it," said Selby, the oldest of five children. "I didn't mind watching the games now and then, but I just didn't care for it that much."

Instead, he ran track and played competitive volleyball. But as soon as he started to grow as a high school freshman, coaches prompted him back onto the court.

Said Selby: "People would ask me, 'Do you play?,' and when I told them no, they said, 'Well, you should.' "

So he joined the junior varsity and reluctantly began his basketball career. Now, four years later, he continues to improve.

"Even though he's playing out of position, he's the most determined rebounder I've ever had," said Bailey.

But Selby's school life is more than basketball. He's the senior class president and a board member for the county's Tech Prep Program -- a group that meets with school superintendent Stuart Berger to discuss technical education.

Even if no coaches call, Selby will go to college to study accounting and international business -- possibly on an academic scholarship. If all goes as planned, he will attend and play for Rider, George Washington, Morgan State or St. Augustine (N.C.).

He says if he has to walk on to a team, so be it. He has worked too hard to give up now.

For a center in a guard-oriented offense who has sacrificed numbers to help the team, patience and determination are a way of life.

"It's been frustrating sometimes," said Selby. "It used to be that I came home mad that I wasn't the leading scorer. Then I thought about it and realized that I shouldn't get upset about it. Just take it easy, play my game and everything will come."

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