« Men’s Basketball 2004-05

Wayne Simien

Wayne Simien Winner


As one of the most beloved players in the long and storied history of basketball at the University of Kansas, Wayne Simien earned the respect of the fans, media and his teammates and coaches both on and off the basketball court. For a boy that grew up as a Jayhawk fan, pretending he was Danny Manning playing in his driveway, to be able to stand at center court in Allen Fieldhouse and give a speech on Senior Night was about as good as it got. When the time came to decide if he was going to leave to play professionally after his junior season in 2003-04, Simien knew he had to come back.

Simien went on to make the most of that senior season. He was named the unanimous choice for Big 12 Player of the Year and became the only player in the conference to average a double-double over the season with 20.3 point and 11 rebounds per game. Kansas coach Bill Self says Simien is the most grounded player he has encountered in his coaching career. “He is a big-picture guy,” Self said. “He is one of the few guys in college basketball who sees the future as where he will be at 34, 40, 50. Most see the future as this month. My personal opinion is he has one focus—how to better serve God. That’s it, how to be a better husband in the future, father, role model.”

And he definitely earned his moment in the Allen Fieldhouse spotlight. On March 2, 2005, almost 16,300 Jayhawk fans stayed until well after 11 pm to hear the speech that Simien had been waiting his whole life to give.