Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Top shots: A look at Bill Self’s best shooting guards

The top shooting guards in the Bill Self tenure at Kansas University, as recalled by the Journal-World and staffs, clockwise from top right: Tyrel Reed, Jeremy Case, Ben McLemore, Conner Teahan, Michael Lee, J.R. Giddens, and, at center, Mario Chalmers (and, yes, that is THE shot).

The top shooting guards in the Bill Self tenure at Kansas University, as recalled by the Journal-World and staffs, clockwise from top right: Tyrel Reed, Jeremy Case, Ben McLemore, Conner Teahan, Michael Lee, J.R. Giddens, and, at center, Mario Chalmers (and, yes, that is THE shot).



J-W File Photos

The top shooting guards in the Bill Self tenure at Kansas University, as recalled by the Journal-World and staffs, clockwise from top right: Tyrel Reed, Jeremy Case, Ben McLemore, Conner Teahan, Michael Lee, J.R. Giddens, and, at center, Mario Chalmers (and, yes, that is THE shot).

During the first installment of this year’s summer series, which will look back at the top players and moments in the 10-season Bill Self era, the Journal-World and staff dissected the top point guards who ran Self’s offenses and guided the Jayhawks to unprecedented heights.

This week, we turn our attention to the off guard position, which not only included some of the biggest names to come through Kansas but also produced some of the best memories in the storied history of the program.

Seven players made the cut, with the top three shooting guards making the top three on all four lists, and two lists included the same five guys, albeit in a slightly different order.

Here’s a look:

Gary Bedore

  1. Mario Chalmers: The pride of Anchorage, Alaska, hit the biggest shot in KU history, which means he’s the best shooting guard in KU history as far as I’m concerned.
  2. Ben McLemore: He’s undoubtedly one of the greatest athletes in KU history. His assortment of dunks was just incredible. Can you imagine if this was a different era and he could play two, three seasons here?
  3. Tyrel Reed: The classy kid from Kansas, who grew up a Jayhawk fan, was a fierce competitor who wound up being a major contributor. He proved to small-town kids everywhere that, yes, you can make it as a Jayhawk basketball player.
  4. Michael Lee: I’ll never forget how excited he was to earn a KU scholarship, courtesy of Roy Williams. He went from a likely bench-warmer to a guy KU coach Self could count on. Also one of my favorite Jayhawk interviews of all time. He actually likes the media.
  5. Jeremy Case: The long-range bomber from Oklahoma caught a bad break at KU. There never was any playing time available, but he studied the game intently and now is an assistant coach.

Tom Keegan

  1. Ben McLemore: Combination of shooting touch and leaping ability made him the most exciting player during the Self era.
  2. Mario Chalmers: Timely steals and clutch shots made him more than worth the $90,000 salary his father drew as director of basketball operations.
  3. Tyrel Reed: Good leaper and a strong shooter in the clutch, he didn’t take bad shots and was an intense competitor.
  4. J.R. Giddens: Without his transfer to New Mexico after the Moon Bar incident, Kansas doesn’t get Brandon Rush.
  5. Michael Lee: Solid player who did a lit bit of everything. Underrated shooter, perhaps, because the shot remembered most was blocked by Hakim Warrick.

Matt Tait

  1. Ben McLemore: Few players at KU have possessed more talent, and few, if any, made the game look so easy. McLemore will be remembered for his three-point shooting and ability to fly through the air but should also be remembered for how much he loved being a Jayhawk.
  2. Mario Chalmers: One of the most clutch players in KU history, Chalmers also brought that key element of cockiness to any floor he ever stepped on. If not for his huge shot, he’d probably be most remembered for that smirk on his face.
  3. Tyrel Reed: Proof that hard work and buying into everything KU offers can turn a good player into a big-time player. The Burlington native was a part of a KU-best 132 career victories.
  4. J.R. Giddens: Giddens’ off-the-court issues overshadowed his skills on the floor, but for a couple of seasons, he flashed a little of what we saw from McLemore in 2012-13. I can remember a stretch during his freshman season when I thought every shot he took was going in.
  5. Conner Teahan: I know it was just for one season, but that season turned out to be pretty spectacular, and Teahan was part of it. Dubbed at times by Self as KU’s “sixth starter,” the sweet-shooting Teahan often was overmatched but never outworked.

Jesse Newell

  1. Mario Chalmers: Ranked in the top 16 nationally in steal rate in each of his three seasons. That alone makes him the best defensive guard Self has had.
  2. Ben McLemore: One of the most athletic players Self has brought in to Lawrence. McLemore left KU after one season with the school’s freshman scoring record (15.9 points per game) and a highlight reel full of dunks.
  3. Tyrel Reed: His 1-for-9 performance in KU’s Elite Eight loss to VCU is a shame, as many KU fans won’t remember how good of a player he became. Reed was exceptional his senior year while battling through a left-foot injury. His steal percentage that year would have ranked first on the 2012-13 Jayhawks, while his low turnover rate and accurate three-point shooting (72 of 190, 38 percent) made him an ideal role player on a powerful offensive team.
  4. J.R. Giddens: I’m only basing this on his on-court performance, and, statistically, Giddens followed a strong freshman year with a so-so sophomore campaign. To Giddens’ credit, he became a much more well rounded player in his final two years at New Mexico after basically serving as a three-point, spot-up shooter at KU.
  5. Michael Lee: Solid role player for three straight KU teams and a nice guy to boot.


gwenthejayhawk 10 months ago

Our program is sad if Jeremy Case is top 5.


Ralster Jayhawk 10 months, 1 week ago

To have Case on this list totally stupifies the whole premise: 5best? What are you smoking? Best practice SG, maybe? And Teahan, REALLY????????????????????? Who wasn't even the best SG on his OWN team? That same championship run year's starting SG was EJ, but you pick a bench guy over the starter? What a slap in everyone's face! Got any defensible logic whatsoever? (Yes, players named Collison, Collins, EJ, Reed all blew big games personally, but we DONT kick them off a best list in favor of a bench guy).


Ralster Jayhawk 10 months, 1 week ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.


Preston Dwiggins 10 months, 1 week ago

Teahan and Case IMO should not be listed. Had Teahan been on the bench where he should have been if McLemore was eligible, we might have won it all in 2012. Case from what I hear was terrific in practice, but could not carry it over to actual games. I think we are in for quite a treat from here on out with our guards.


jaybate 10 months, 1 week ago

To those comparing Roy's Boys with Bill's Boys today, remember to compare apples with apples, i.e., only Roy's first ten years of players with Bill's ten. On that basis, I suspect Bill's Boys will stack up pretty well.


Kevin Huffman 10 months, 1 week ago

Hey, did anyone see Chad Ford's latest Top 30 or whatever and he drops McLemore yet again.

Down to No. 6 from No. 4 the week before.

Starting to get ridiculous! Although I did hear that he woudln't work out with / against Oladipo & Muhammad while out for the Suns.

Could be another OAD that fades away into nothingness! :(


John Fitzgerald 10 months, 1 week ago

My top 5:

  1. Mario Chalmers - Clutch, Clutch, Clutch! This guy was a true defender, great distributor, and an intelligent player. His fast break points came easy, when we needed a 3 he made it happen, and was a team leader for the national championship team. He's in my top 5 of all time KU players since I've been watching them.

  2. Ben McLemore - Talk about raw talent. This kid only had one flaw, he's too dang nice! If he had the attitude of Marcus Smart, watch out, we win the national championship last year. But, being nice also has its perks, as he wasn't only a top scorer, he wasn't too selfish to pass and loved helping his teammates. He was also strong on the defensive end.

  3. Brady Morningstar - If I remember right, Morningstar played a little bit of point and SG depending on the lineup. I'll probably get a lot of disagreement with this one, but I feel like he contributed a HUGE amount during his time here and was always playing 120%. He had some archy shots, and even though it took forever for them to go in, they did, and quite often. Also a very strong defender and a stand up guy.

  4. Michael Lee - Loved watching this guy play! When he was on, man he was on fire. Probably a better guy than a basketball player, but he still contributed a lot and made people better around him. One of my favorite players to watch especially when it came to him getting media coverage. Very charasmatic and fun to listen to. I think he'll be a great coach one day!

  5. J.R. Giddens - He wasn't around long, and transfered to New Mexico, but man he was good. Given different circumstances, and better decisions on his part, I think he turns into a Ben McLemore type of player. Probably not as talented, but he still had a pretty shot and could lay down some exciting dunks.


Tony Bandle 10 months, 1 week ago

My list of the posters I'd most like to sit down and have a beer [well, rootbeer for me] and talk Hawk Ball all night.

1] Jaybate - My good buddy and fellow "old timer" who like me actually remembers having to get up and change the TV channels by hand.

2] Big Man U - alias KUShaw, by renaming himself changed the course of KU Ball with the influx of footers and dunkers.

3] Ralster - Never wavering is his positive outlook or maintaining a classy response..even if he disagrees with me and is wrong....of course. :)

4] Bennybob - You have to admire someone who, without exception, can always find someone that gets pissed with one of his responses...I kind of like that!!

5] ParisHawk - Always ready to bring in the very logical feminine view. I am assuming you are a girl..if not and you're a guy, congrats to you for developing your female side.

6] HEM - Analyzer extraordinnaire...he sometimes make the talking heads look like...well...talking heads!!

7] drgnslyr - Nothing specific comes to mind yet I always enjoy your're kind of "stealth-like."

8] ahpersewithexperience - See Number 4...ditto!! :)

9] turdferguson - I just think you've got the best post name of us all!!!!!

10] soobawls - I miss the old byotch.

I'm sure I could name another thirty or so but my boss is looking at me and wondering why I am actually working so hard...better go!!


texashawk10 10 months, 1 week ago

The problem with trying to do this kind of list is that so many players under Self don't have a set position because of Self's love of players capable of playing multiple positions like Tyshawn, EJ, Brady, Langford and so on. T There are valid arguments for all of those players at the different positions being discussed both by the writers and other oosters on here.


FarSideHawk 10 months, 1 week ago

The article I really want to see: Roy Williams best 8 versus Bill Self's best 8. Who would win?

Roy's Boys:

  1. Jacque Vaughn (Adonis Jordan)

  2. Kirk Hinrich

  3. Paul Pierce

  4. Nick Collison (Wayne Simien)

  5. Raef Lafrentz (Drew Gooden)

Self's Squad:

  1. Sherron Collins

  2. Mario Chalmers (Ben Mclemore)

  3. Brandon Rush

  4. Thomas Robinson (Marcus Morris)

  5. Cole Aldrich (Jeff Withey)

Seems like Roy's team has more talent, but Roy vs Self history favors Self.


Steve Gantz 10 months, 1 week ago

They're all the best, they're Jayhawks!


Dillweed 10 months, 1 week ago

Don't get the need for Mr Keegan to throw in the dig on Mario's dad. Seems like a hater type comment


wpjayhawk 10 months, 1 week ago

Memories appear to be short on this thread. I would rank Terry Brown with any of these guys. And this will show how old I am, but perhaps some of the best shooters in KU history played well before the 3-point line era. Mark (Marc?) Williams and Delvy Lewis come to mind, along with 50-point game Bud Stallworth, not to mention Jo Jo White who, but for an at best controversial out of bounds call, would own the second biggest shot in KU history, his disallowed game-winner against Texas Western in 1966. Although, on second thought, White should probably be considered a point guard.


TKELuke 10 months, 1 week ago

LOL, I would consider Langford as a SG. If you watch his highlight reel on YouTube... you can clearly see that JR Giddens plays the small forward position with Simien and Padgett down low and Miles running the point.

Maybe there is some confusion because he is a slashing style guard instead of a jump shooter.


William Blake 10 months, 1 week ago

This is all just argumentative stuff... but I put Rio ahead of BMac because he got it done. Execution when it counts is at that top of my list.

If we had won a NC this year and BMac hit the winner... I'd probably put BMac ahead because I like his stroke.


Steve Yeakel 10 months, 1 week ago

Where does Kirk Heinrich fit in, was/is tremendous guard at KU and very good one in NBA?


Matt Stephan 10 months, 1 week ago

Seriously, I am sorry I follow these articles pretty well. I know it is hard to define what position some of these guards play. For example, Elijah Johnson started as a 2 in 2012 and a 1 in 2013; Tyshawn Taylor started as a 2 in 2009 and 2010 and a 1 in 2011 and 2012. But for the Bill Self era, Keith Langford started at the 2. He was the 3 for the Roy Williams teams. JR Giddens was a 3. I know people knock down JR Giddens for his attitude and obviously the Moon Bar incident, but he still started for two seasons for KU. He probably contributed more in his career then Xavier Henry and Josh Selby. Regardless, Keith Langford is a 2 and JR Giddens is a 3. With that said, here are my rankings for the 2 guards under Self.

After reevaluating my PG Top 5. I decided to consider Elijah Johnson a 2 instead of a 1.

  1. Mario Chalmers 2. Keith Langford 3. Ben McLemore 4. Elijah Johnson 5. Tyrel Reed

From the PG article, here was my top 5 PG

  1. Sherron Collins 2. Aaron Miles 3. Tyshawn Taylor 4. Russell Robinson 5. Nadir Tharpe

Kevin Huffman 10 months, 1 week ago

The "3" next week's going to be interesting.

They're going to include Langford & X. Henry in there. And then you have Releford, B. Rush, Morningstar

I wonder how they'll list it...I'm thinking:

  1. B. Rush
  2. Langford
  3. Releford
  4. X. Henry
  5. Morningstar ..........feel like I'm probably missing some.

jayhawkrob 10 months, 1 week ago

morningstar was def a 2 guard and should be put right behind rio and b mac


Kevin Huffman 10 months, 1 week ago

Now see, Mi. Lee & Teahan I count as SF's, but NO WAY do I consider Langford a SF. Yes, he wasn't a long-range bomber type of SG, but he was a Kenny Gregory slashing type of SG.


Kevin Huffman 10 months, 1 week ago

I ALWAYS think of Mi. Lee & Teahan as SF's.


ArgyleJayhawks 10 months, 1 week ago

He seems like a great dude and all but, Jeremy Case?!?!?!


Reuben_J_Cogburn 10 months, 1 week ago

You guys are all wrong....

....CJ Henry.


johnsont1 10 months, 1 week ago

Does anyone know if Elijah was eligible for this? He did help us get to a nc. I would put Mario, Elijah, mclemore, reed, lee.. With a large emphasis on post season performance.


David Brown 10 months, 1 week ago

Four years down the road, wouldn't it be great to add "Conner Frankamp" to this list? Of course Conner hasn't played a minute yet, so his history has yet to be written. For whatever reason, I just feel, or want to feel, that he will be a gutsy, clutch outside shooter who will win us some games outright, or shoot us back into contention in others.

Bring on the new season, the new faces, and let Coach Self mold them into something magical once again. This group sure has the athletic talent. Once they add some KU experience and additional X's and O's knowledge, they could really take off. Can't wait for this upcoming season.


nuleafjhawk 10 months, 1 week ago

Wrong title for this article. For the most part, it should be titled:

*Our favorite guys that happened to wear a Jayhawk uniform and shot the ball sometimes.

I'm sorry, just because they're nice guys and good interviews doesn't make them "Top Shots".


andersonalex 10 months, 1 week ago

Regarding ppg for Mario vs. Ben, I think it's good to keep in mind that Mario played with a team that was much more talented overall. If he played on last year's team, he very well may have needed to go for more points for himself. To me, the combination of his ball control and defense made him the stronger sg of the two. He really made opposing teams nervous and disrupted their flow. His higher number of assists also suggests that on average he was more involved in the offense on the occasions where he wasn't the one shooting.


GrammarPolice 10 months, 1 week ago

more retardation that you all considered Elijah a POINT GUARD. He would be #3 on this list... and shouldn't be on the PG list at all.


Jonny Swift 10 months, 1 week ago

Ya this whole ranking thing is kinda flawed. When you look at this list, it makes you think - are these really the only SGs we've had during the Self era? Let's take a look...

First of all, I don't know why Langford isn't on this list. Is he not a SG? Did he not play 2 seasons under Self, the same as Lee? I know he played a lot of the 3 spot at KU, but his natural position is SG and is what he's played his entire pro career. Anyways...Lee/Langford passed off to Chalmers, but after his reign, during the '08-'09 and '09-'10 seasons, the starting guards were Sherron and Tyshawn. You could argue that they kinda switched off like RussRob and Mario did between PG and SG (Sherron liked to run the show but sometimes was a better scorer off the ball with Tyshawn distributing), but both Sherron and Tyshawn were listed in the PG rankings. If you argue that Sherron was the true PG during that span, then Tyshawn played SG for two years and PG for two years. And for his final two years as undisputed starting PG, Tyshawn's starting SGs were Brady Morningstar in '10-'11 and Elijah Johnson in '11-'12 (enter McLemore!). But I don't see Morningstar on this list (I kinda always considered him the 2 guard since he handled the ball a little bit more and Reed the 3 even though they were kind of interchangeable...can't really consider Brady a SF). And Elijah was listed on the PG list even though he played the 2 guard most of his Kansas career (and is more his natural position). That's the confusion you get with Self's combo guard system I guess haha.

I thought I read somewhere that these rankings were supposed to be based on the player's true position, not necessarily what they played at KU. But in that case, shouldn't Langford, Elijah, and Morningstar be on this SG list? This list of 2 guards - Chalmers, McLemore, Reed, Lee, Giddens, Teahan, and Case - seems so depleted because our 2 guards from '08-'10 (Tyshawn) and during the '11-'12 season (Elijah) were on the PG list, and it looks like Morningstar and also Langford will be on the SF list? Who knows. If so, the 3 spot is stacked (not that it wasn't already) - Rush, Langford, Morningstar, Releford, Little, Wright, and That's pretty ridiculous.

One other cool tidbit - Teahan is the only guy on any of these lists that was on the '08 championship team and played in the '12 championship game. That's gotta count for something.


Jim Erickson 10 months, 1 week ago

I hate that Giddens is on here... He was a streaky spot up shooter that had to skip town because he couldn't behave. I met Giddens and Wayne Simien in the same month when I was a Freshman at KU. I'll leave it at this: Giddens lacked class.

Simien on the other hand was with a mutual friend when we met briefly and a month later I heard somebody yelling my name. I looked around and saw Wayne Simien, the best basketball player in college basketball, going out of his way to say hi to me. It seems like everyone who met Wayne has a similar story. Awesome guy... We would have another championship if he was healthy against Syracuse.


FinalFinal 10 months, 1 week ago

I am guessing Langford is classified as Small Forward. He has played guard as a pro.

Regardless, he was incredible.


Michael Auchard 10 months, 1 week ago

Keeg's point on Chalmers illustrates his whole writing style: usually painful to read and at least slightly off topic.


Jim Erickson 10 months, 1 week ago

My picks for best OVERALL guards:

1. Collins... Huge in the championship game and was dominate for 2 more years.

2. Chalmers... Too bad he always choked under pressure :)

3. McLemore... Would have been higher but only payed a year.

4. Taylor... Amazing senior year. There is no way we could have made it to the championship without him.

5. Miles... Incredible pure point guard. His numbers are good (#1 in assists, serviceable scorer) but it was the fact that he facilitate the careers of Simien and Langford that made him great.


Jim Erickson 10 months, 1 week ago

Love these articles!

I don't claim to be the worlds expert on guards (I never made it past the NBA D-League) but it seems like the guard position under Coach Self is often more of a combo guard rather than a traditional point guard and shooting guard. This was a bit of an exception (McLemore screams shooting guard) but in some of the years past it has often been combo. That championship year especially... Robinson, Chalmers, and Collins rotated for a pair of combo guards it seemed.

In short... I'd like to see do an additional article on the best guards in the Bill Self era.


Dirk Medema 10 months, 1 week ago

Comparing Rio and Ben is a bit distorted by Rio being remembered for his 3rd yr vs. Ben's 1st/2nd yr.

It is really amazing that in 10 years we have really only had 2 SG's, and that only for 4 years of PT. Makes it even more amazing that Coach has cobbled together 30+ W's per yr.


ja_hok91 10 months, 1 week ago

Mario is by far the best SG we have had.


Allen Shepard 10 months, 1 week ago

Wow... we have been so thin at guard....


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