UConn's Adams and Selden of Kansas share a tight bond
Des Moines, Iowa — Their friendship dates back to before their high school days.
UConn freshman Jalen Adams and Kansas junior Wayne Selden, Jr., both from Roxbury, Mass., grew up playing sports together. Their families also are close.
"My grandmother is his mom's godmother, or something like that...," Selden said. "He's like my little brother. When you know somebody since you were eight or nine years old, since the sandbox, you're going to have that type of relationship. ... We played football together and pee-wee basketball together."
Now they'll oppose each other Saturday night, as Adams will try to help ninth-seeded UConn upset top-seeded Kansas in an NCAA South Region second round game at Wells Fargo Arena.
Adams plays the role of spark-plug off the bench while Selden is a vital contributor in the starting lineup. They're looking forward to competing against each other.
They last squared off when Adams attended Cushing Academy and Selden was at Tilton Academy.
"We're anxious to get on the same court together, it's been awhile," Adams said while surrounded by media in UConn's locker room. "It's going to be fun. We're going to be competitive out there, but off the court it's all love."
Selden added: "I've been proud of him, to see how far he's come. There's going to be no love lost out there because we're both competitive guys. And that's how we were raised."
The two families have had a lot to talk about.
Adams earned a place in the UConn basketball lore by hitting a three-quarter court, buzzer-beating miracle shot in the four-overtime win over Cincinnati last week in the American Athletic Conference quarterfinal. It was just one of several big baskets that Adams made during his team's postseason run.
Selden Jr., a junior guard, averages 13.3 points for a Kansas team that's considered one of the favorites to win the national championship.
"I'm sure his mom is texting my mother all the time, tweeting stuff and Instagrams," Adams said. "Me and him texted a little bit and made a couple of jokes."
If not for Selden picking Kansas, they might have become teammates. During the recruiting process, he strongly considered UConn.
"When I was 15 or 16, they were like a dream school," Selden said. "A lot of guys from Boston went to UConn. It was kind of like a pipeline thing. As I went through the years, they went through some stuff and I looked at other schools and I found a home here."
Both Adams and teammate Rodney Purvis know Kansas sophomore guard Devonte' Graham.
Graham attended Brewster Academy in New Hampshire the year before Adams arrived there. He's from the same hometown, Raleigh, N.C., as Purvis.
"We play pick-up ball in the summer time, anytime we're both back in the city," Purvis said. "He's always been a good guy. He's always smiling and having a good time."
A winning routine
With Thursday's first round win over eighth-seeded Colorado, Kevin Ollie improved to 7-0 in NCAA games as a head coach. He led the Huskies to six straight wins in the 2014 national championship season.
Ollie says a key is sticking to the same routine.
"We don't do anything different," Ollie said of his postseason approach. "We just do what UConn teams have been doing. We practice very hard. We're very detailed oriented, and we allow the kids to challenge each other.
".... We want to make sure we win every possession and that's how we go about our business."
The Huskies are just playing follow their leader.
"His intensity level is never going to change," Purvis said. "He expects the best out of each and every one of his guys. It may take longer for certain guys to get it, but when it really counts that's when most guys get it and I think that's why we're clicking now."
Taking down No. 1 seeds
UConn has a history of beating top-ranked teams in the NCAA tournament. The Huskies are 3-5 overall, winning the last two, beating Duke, 79-78, in the 2004 national semifinal in San Antonio and defeating Florida, 63-53, in the 2014 national semifinal in Arlington.
Assistant coach Ricky Moore has been part of UConn's success as an underdog, helping the Huskies shock top-seeded Duke, 77-74, in 1999 for the first of the program's four national championships.
Now the Huskies expect to pull off the upset.
"Now, at this stage, winning four national championships, it's just part of the process, so to speak," Moore said. "If we're a ninth seed or seventh seed, whatever it may be, usually we're playing big time games when you're playing a higher seed, so you come in with that mindset.
"For our guys, I think it's a great motivator that we're the seed that we are right now. Your back isn't up against the wall. You come in and play free and then whatever happens, happens, as long as you competed at the highest level and gave everything you had."
News and notes
Kansas coach Bill Self wants to keep UConn, the nation's leading free throw team, off the line. "We know that's a big part of their offense." ... UConn has limited its turnovers during its season-high tying five-game winning streak, averaging just 9.4 turnovers. "We just know every possession counts," Sterling Gibbs said. "You can't turn the ball over in order to win." ... Former UConn star Caron Butler and his wife, Andrea, made a donation to support the Werth Family UConn Basketball Champions Center. The gift amount is private. Butler was recently inducted into the Huskies of Honor. "Andrea and I met at UConn, and it has always held a special place in our hearts," Butler said in a release.
At Wells Fargo Arena
Des Moines, Iowa
UConn 74, Colorado 67
Kansas 105, Austin Peay 79
Kansas (31-4) vs. UConn (25-10), 7:45 p.m. (time approximate)
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