Whenever Kansas’ football or basketball teams gather for a pregame prayer, they’re led by a chaplain who has not only been in their shoes but also set a standard of athletic excellence for them to strive for.
As a highly skilled, 6-foot-9 forward, Wayne Simien was a key part of Jayhawks hoops teams that won 110 games from 2001-2005 and made two trips to the Final Four, including an appearance in the 2003 national title game. As a senior in 2005, Simien earned First Team All-America and Big 12 Player of the Years — efforts that were rewarded in January of 2011 when the school retired his No. 23 jersey.
A first round selection by the Miami Heat in the 2005 NBA Draft, Simien played professionally for just four professional seasons before retiring at the age of 26, seeking a life and career change.
“I still love the game of basketball, can play at a high level and make a great living, however I have more of a passion to pursue other things,” he explained to the Lawrence Journal-World in 2009. “That passion being for Christian ministry and youth athletics.”
In addition to his duties as KU team chaplain, Simien is the director of youth sports and a campus minister for Called to Greatness, a Lawrence-based youth ministry organization.
The Jayhawks host intrastate rival Kansas State on Monday night. Wayne Simien profile