Wayne Simien Born: March 9, 1983 (Leavenworth, KS)
Graduated: Leavenworth High School, 2001; University of Kansas, 2005
Wayne Simien, a touted prep hoopster from Leavenworth, Kansas, grew up in the shadow of the University of Kansas. Growing up just twenty minutes away from Lawrence, he watched KU greats like Kansas Sports Hall of Famer Danny Manning and would dream of one day playing on the same court in Allen Fieldhouse.
When he got his chance, he didn’t disappoint.
Simien was already a household name in basketball circles by the time he came on campus as a freshman at KU. Throughout his high school career, he built up a resume that would be the envy of any young athlete. After guiding the Leavenworth Pioneers to a state championship during his junior year, Simien followed it up with a senior season that saw him earn consensus All-State honors, Mr. Kansas Basketball honors, Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year honors, and McDonald’s All-American honors.
Indeed, Simien was on nearly every collegiate basketball coach’s recruiting radar but jumped at the first opportunity he received to play for the Jayhawks.
It would have been easy for a young star to not live up to the expectations of coaches and Jayhawk fans. But Simien blossomed under the tutelage of head coach Roy Williams and current head coach Bill Self to become one of the most dominating forces in the Big XII.
Simien will be the first to admit that his personal accomplishments are secondary to what the team accomplished during his years at KU. During his career, the Jayhawks posted a record of 110-28, including three Big XII Conference titles, four trips to the NCAA tournament, two Final Fours, and one Elite Eight.
Although his team’s accomplishments during his years at KU are impressive, one look at his individual numbers show just how pivotal a role Simien played during those years of dominance.
Simien ended his career at KU twelfth in scoring with 1,593 points, seventh in rebounds with 884, and fourth in double-doubles with 38, despite losing nearly half of his sophomore season to injury. He was a two-time All-Big XII Conference selection, the 2005 Big XII Player of the Year when he averaged a double-double, a consensus first-team All-American, and the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award winner in 2005.
Drafted in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft, he went on to win one NBA Championship with the Miami Heat in 2006 before retiring from basketball in 2009.
A true Kansan, Simien continues to display the same characteristics that have endeared him to thousands of Jayhawk fans across the state.
Currently, Simien, along with wife Katie and children Selah, Rael, and Simon, reside in Lawrence where he is a Chaplin for the KU football and basketball teams, and a KU Campus Minister for the Called to Greatness Organization.