KU’s 10 biggest stars

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wilt Chamberlain, Lynette Woodard, Gale Sayers, Jim Ryun, Danny Manning, John Hadl, John Riggins, Bill Nieder, Clyde Lovellette, Jo Jo White, Paul Pierce, Wes Santee, Billy Mills, Ray Evans, Willie Pless, Bob Allison, Otto Schnellbacher, Bobby Douglass, Nolan Cromwell, Brandon Rush, Aqib Talib. Kansas seldom falls short on star power, even in years when depth is lacking. Even by KU standards, this shapes up as a particularly bright upcoming year for stardom in Kansas sports.

Star power can’t be measured by any one number or trait, rather blends popularity, ability, value to a team, clutch performance and toughness.

Make your own list of KU athletes in terms of star power for the upcoming season and rank them from one to 10, but make sure to adhere to one rule: Only athletes who are enrolled in school can be considered teammates and only teammates are eligible for this list:

1. Todd Reesing: Has played a major role in transforming Kansas from a basketball school to a dual-threat heavyweight. Has created 10 plays more memorable than the average college quarterback’s most memorable one. Refuses to give up on a play, even when it looks as if he’s about to get creamed. Question: Is there a more exciting athlete in college? Answer: No.

2. Sherron Collins: Calls to mind 1978 College Player of the Year Butch Lee on his relentless drives to the hoop. A rare blend of strength and quickness, Collins will have more scoring help this year and is a threat to earn first-team All-American honors.

3. Kerry Meier: One day, I’d like to grow up to be as mature as Kerry Meier, but I’d rather remain brown instead of turning blue, so I won’t be holding my breath waiting for it to happen. He’s so in tune with Reesing because he understands the quarterback position so well and shares the skill of never quitting on a play.

4. Cole Aldrich: Part of his star power centers on how much he loves life as a student-athlete. Guaranteed money awaited him had he decided to make himself eligible for the NBA Draft. You have to love him for not doing so.

5. Danielle McCray: She carried the women’s basketball team to the WNIT title game and in the process nearly packed Allen Fieldhouse. She embodies everything that college sports is supposed to be about and does it with such a warm smile.

6. Dezmon Briscoe: If turf had veins it would bleed to death the way this receiver cuts so sharply after catching the ball. If he can develop the discipline to remain out of the doghouse, nothing will stop him.

7. Tony Thompson: Everybody loves a power hitter. A Triple Crown threat in any league, Thompson batted .389 with 21 home runs and 82 RBIs in 61 games. Project that over 162 games and it equates to 56 home runs and 218 RBIs.

8. Darrell Stuckey: Few things match watching Stuckey run down a player who thinks he’s on his way to six points.

9. Jake Sharp: Fast, tough, exciting, cocky — not necessarily in that order — and another example of why it doesn’t pay to obsess on size.

10. Tyshawn Taylor: The World University Games gold medal he wore around his neck Wednesday seemed to help his confidence without curbing his youthful appeal.