Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Woodling: Jayhawks plentiful in NBA


I would have bet that every college basketball player who opted to turn pro before graduation would have said it.

But Julian Wright didn't.

During Wright's media session, the Kansas University sophomore never once uttered the familiar words: "It's always been my dream to play in the NBA."

Perhaps young boys don't dream of playing in the NBA anymore.

For instance, a couple of weeks ago while I was doing a stint as a Junior Achievement volunteer teacher - this time in a fifth-grade class at Quail Run School - the students had an opportunity to say what they wanted to be when they grew up.

More of the boys, I learned, were interested in becoming pro skateboarders than they were in playing in the NBA. The count was close, though.

Either way, the odds of any of those fifth-grade boys becoming professional athletes in any sport are infinitesimal. They have a better chance of making the big money - when they're old enough, of course - if they purchase a lottery ticket.

Probably, in retrospect, many of the young males in these parts have a skewed perception of the paucity of pro jobs because so many KU basketball players are in the NBA.

During the 2006-07 season, eight former Jayhawks were on NBA rosters, and their combined salaries were about $43 million, or what sounds like the gross national product of New Guinea.

Here's a look at the eight former KU players who hit the jackpot in descending order of annual salary:

Paul Pierce ($15,101,626), Boston - Weary of playing for a once-proud franchise now on the skids, Pierce could be wearing a different uniform next season. Meanwhile, his contract is guaranteed through 2011.

Raef LaFrentz ($11,532,037), Portland - LaFrentz, once the third player selected in the NBA Draft, has spent most of this season on the bench. Clearly on the downside of his pro career, he'll still be going to the bank for two more years whether he plays or not.

Drew Gooden ($6,645,402), Cleveland - Cavs hoping Gooden will be Mr. Inside to LeBron James' Mr. Outside, but Gooden remains inconsistent with his third pro team. Like LaFrentz, his contract is good through 2009.

Kirk Hinrich ($3,192,000), Chicago - Enjoying his best overall season as a pro, Hinrich may be Steve Nash in training wheels. Look for his stock to climb during the playoffs.

Nick Collison ($2,501,000), Seattle - Collison missed one full season with shoulder woes, but has shown flashes in his second full pro year. Still has an upside, but probably will need to expand his shooting range. Signed through 2011.

Scot Pollard ($2,200,000), Cleveland - With his pact running out this season, Pollard's pro days are probably over. Don't feel sorry for him, though. Despite minimal offensive skills, Pollard lasted a decade in the NBA.

Jacque Vaughn ($1,071,000), San Antonio - Like Pollard, Vaughn has spent 10 years in the NBA, mostly as a reserve. But how many extras do you know who earn a million bucks a year?

Wayne Simien ($932,760), Miami - Saddled with injuries at Kansas, Big Dub has battled illness (salmonella) as a pro, so the jury is still out. Signed through next season, with a team option for the following year.


Joe Ross 12 years, 10 months ago

As I read this story I naturally wonder which schools' representation in the NBA are the greatest and how many players there are from each of them.

Does anyone have a source to find this information?

jakejayhawk 12 years, 10 months ago

From Players in the NBA by school Connecticut 14 Duke 13 North Carolina 12 Arizona 10 UCLA 10 Michigan St. 9 Kansas 8 Kentucky 8 Maryland 7 Texas 7

justanotherfan 12 years, 10 months ago

If you want to know why players turn pro early, just look at the salary of Scot Pollard and know that he has been earning that kind of money for a decade. Pollard was never the best player on his team at KU, and has never been anything more than a reserve in the league, but when he cashes his checks he must smile.

Interesting to note that of the schools with the most players in the NBA right now, the only ones without a national title in the last fifteen years are KU and Texas.

UConn - 1999, 2004 Duke - 1991, 1992, 2001 UNC - 1993, 2005 Arizona - 1997 UCLA - 1995 Michigan St. - 2000 Kentucky - 1996, 1998 Maryland - 2002

Craig Lang 12 years, 10 months ago

When is Jacque Vaughn's contract scheduled to expire?

JayCeph 12 years, 10 months ago

Ostertag is done? When did he retire, this year?

Joe Ross 12 years, 10 months ago


Thanks for the info!!!

It's good to know where we rank in the scheme of things.

ebort 12 years, 10 months ago

You forgot about Billy Thomas and his short stint late this season.

ku98 12 years, 10 months ago

Miles is playing in France this year. He played a few games with the Golden State Warriors last year, but was cut later. I think he will find a spot on an NBA roster one day. He would make a good back-up PG.

One question for you guys: Out of this year's KU roster, who do you think will play in the NBA?

emeryhawk 12 years, 10 months ago

Arthur Collins Chalmers Rush (maybe sooner rather than later) Maybe Kaun

emeryhawk 12 years, 10 months ago

I think Arthur will end up being the best pro, when all is said and done.

hawkfan4life 12 years, 10 months ago

Pierce is making BANK!!! And Kirk is worth more.

Joe Ross 12 years, 10 months ago

One question for you guys: Out of this year's KU roster, who do you think will play in the NBA

Collins Kaun (some of you might disagree but spots for bigs in the NBA are much less competitive than guards and forwards). Arthur Rush (assuming he stays, he qualifies for "this year's roster, otherwise he'll be playing in the upcoming season anyway). Chalmers Stewart. Ok, just kidding.

ku98 12 years, 10 months ago

Another question for you guys...

Who is the better player: Kaun or Chenowith? I am just asking because Eric was definitely more skilled than Sasha, yet he never made it to the NBA.

Larry Smith 12 years, 10 months ago

Actually, Ostertag did play last Year. played 60 games with Utah. Wanted to retire as a member of the Jazz.

Please don't make me defend Chenowith again. He is obviously the better of the two.

rockchalkAZ 12 years, 10 months ago

Didn't Chenowith play for the Knicks for a while??

Joe Ross 12 years, 10 months ago

Id take Kaun over Chenowith every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

justanotherfan 12 years, 10 months ago

Kaun is much worse offensively than Chenowith, but he is a much better rebounder and defender, which translates into being a backup center in the NBA for a few years. If Kaun had some offensive game, he would be a first rounder this year. Remember, size is the one thing that is significantly lacking in all levels of basketball. Every team loves to have six extra fouls to throw down low to deter the great slashers and the good inside players. Add to that the fact that Kaun runs the floor decent for a man of his size and you have a guy that can get 10-15 minutes a game.

So the guys on this past years squad that will play (at least for a little while) in the NBA: Wright (probably 8-10 years barring injury) Rush (8-10 years) Chalmers (6-10 years, 6 if he never learns to play the point, ten if he does) Collins (4-7 years, 4 if he can't play the point) Arthur (10-12 years) Kaun (6-8 years)

Outside sleeper Darnell Jackson if he ends up on the right team. GMs like bangers who can rebound. And his good touch on the 12-16 footer may get him a look.

Larry Smith 12 years, 10 months ago

Well, for being such a poor rebounder and defender, Chenowith finished his career as #3 shot blocker, and #5 rebounder all time at Kansas. He really does get a bad rap. Oh yeah, when he was done he was also the #19 scorer all time. You would be suprised at the the names on these lists that are below him.

justanotherfan 12 years, 10 months ago

Perhaps I should phrase it another way... Eric Chenowith was soft. Guys labelled as soft with middle of the road skills don't play in the NBA.

ralsterKUMed95 12 years, 10 months ago

Boy, really tough to try to compare Sasha with Chenowith. Although I have no fond memories of Chenowith, remember we are also comparing the KU teams that they played on, which translates DIRECTLY into the expectations from the C position. Chenowith was supposed to be the 'man', and stats or no stats, he was NOT a dominating center on a KU team that REALLY needed him more. The CURRENT KU team in 06-07 is built on speed and athleticism and scoring from all 5 positions, so having "bigman by committee", although not dominating, is certainly doable with THIS team--ie, we can continue to 'develop' Kaun, Jackson, Arthur, and the incoming Aldrich. My personal feeling on Kaun, Jackson, and Arthur is LOOK OUT! in 07-08. Kaun brings a quickness and athleticism you almost cannot teach a bigman. What you CAN teach is shot and skillset, which do not forget, is all still relatively new to Sasha: ie, BIG potential and upside for NBA. Solid physical kid, too. And don't think the classroom-smart Sasha hasn't figured out he may (will) spark NBA interest with a strong showing in 07-08. We saw the hands get better this year, and maybe the shooting next year?

ku98 12 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for participating in the debate. I love it! And I like that someone mentioned Darnell with an outside chance to make an NBA roster. I think DJ has a lot of heart, and with another year with more playing time, he might have a shot. What about Robinson? Look at NBA players like Anthony Johnson or Eric Snow... not very talented, but good tough defenders with good leadership skills. I think RussRob could find his way to the league too.

JayCeph 12 years, 10 months ago

RussRob could play right along with the rest of them in the League. Unfortunately, his rep isn't getting the attention it needs to in order for the League to see him as another Snow or Johnson.

He's not as good with the ball as Jacque but I see him in that category. He just needs someone (or many 'someones') to toot his horn next season... and toot loudly.

:) (The thought of that is kind of funny, no?)

girlygirl 12 years, 10 months ago

Hinrich signed a contract extension with the Bulls that kicks in next season. So he'll be making $11 million dollars next season. The deal runs through the 2011-12 season.

Not bad for a guy who wasn't considered a legit NBA prospect by most "experts" until early in his junior year at KU.

ralsterKUMed95 12 years, 10 months ago

Robinson's senior year performance will have a major influence on any NBA chances. LOTS of the intangibles you want. Is the bare minimum size for NBA guards at 6'1" 200lbs (as a junior). The question is whether he can shoot more consistently like he did all thru March. DID show he can step up in the big games, and has done so ever since a starter. I recall the 22 pts vs aTm last year...and able to take "big", high-pressure shots. THIS EXACTLY is what separates Russell from past great KU guards like Vaughn or Miles. I saw him get some minutes as a freshman subbing for Miles or Langford and we even saw penetrating ability and finishing ability, and I remember thinking that year "a mini-Langford", but our team has evolved differently and does not require him to do that. I just like this kid (and Darnell Jackson), and hope they have big senior seasons, so they may entertain a full range of possibilities, whatever their desires...

Lance Hobson 12 years, 10 months ago

Oh my GAWD don't ever compare Kaun or anyone else of value to Chenowith. That is so harsh!

choffman 12 years, 10 months ago

Ostertag retired 2 years ago...this is his third season not playing...

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