Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Column: Seeing Stars? Wake Forest turns out more NBA All-Stars than Kansas

During the combined 27 years Bill Self and Roy Williams served as head coach of the Kansas University basketball team, the Jayhawks have gone to six Final Fours, made four NCAA title-game appearances and won one national title. But KU has produced only one NBA All-Star, Paul Pierce.

During the combined 27 years Bill Self and Roy Williams served as head coach of the Kansas University basketball team, the Jayhawks have gone to six Final Fours, made four NCAA title-game appearances and won one national title. But KU has produced only one NBA All-Star, Paul Pierce.


Bill Self and Roy Williams, Kansas University’s only two basketball coaches for the past 27 years, combined for six Final Fours, four NCAA title-game appearances and one national title for KU. They have done so employing different coaching styles and personalities.

Self, from Edmond, Oklahoma, and Williams, from Marion, North Carolina, have at least one thing in common. Both men have coached more great basketball teams than super-loud basketball talents, a compliment to their ability to judge talent well in compiling deep rosters and in their ability to make the talent mesh.

Quickly, off the top of your head, offer a guess as to how many combined NBA All-Stars Self and Williams have coached at Kansas.

The answer is ... not in this paragraph, because cheaters who peek do not get rewarded.

The answer is in this paragraph: One. Paul Pierce, who last played for KU in 1998, is KU’s only NBA All-Star since Danny Manning earned his second honor in the 1993-94 season. In Williams’ 27 years as a Div. I head coach, Pierce remains his lone NBA All-Star. In Self’s 22 years, including four at Oral Roberts and three apiece at Tulsa and Illinois, former Illini point guard Deron Williams is his only NBA All-Star.

Now more than ever, in the age of one-and-done, landing superstars isn’t as important as compiling depth, roster balance and flexibility.

Interestingly, during the combined Williams-Self eras, Wake Forest, not a consistent winning program, has had four NBA All-Stars (Tim Duncan, Josh Howard, Chris Paul and Jeff Teague).

NBA Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins makes Self the favorite to have a second All-Star before Williams, not that the coaches compete on that level. Harrison Barnes, Markieff Morris and Joel Embiid also are candidates.

If two more Self players compete in the showcase event, Self will become the only Kansas coach to have three NBA All-Stars. Dick Harp coached Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Bridges, Phog Allen coached Clyde Lovellette, Manning played for Larry Brown, JoJo White for Ted Owens and Pierce for Williams.

This coming season’s KU team doesn’t have a player on the roster who easily projects as an NBA All-Star, which hurts the Jayhawks’ chances of reaching the Final Four not one bit. None of the six Final Four teams during the Williams-Self era had an NBA All-Star playing for it. Mario Chalmers, who averaged a career-best 10.2 points for the Heat this season, has been the best pro from the 2008 national-title team.


Joe Ross 6 years, 5 months ago

I've long lamented the fact that while Kansas sends many players to the NBA, not many of them establish themselves in a way that makes people (read "anyone other than Jayhawk fans) remember where they came from.

Keith Gellar 6 years, 5 months ago

Joe ross, we are in the minority here. Majority of the posters on here only care about KU basketball and are satisfied with winning the B12.

and for all the posters who are saying the NBA and college games are completely different and it doesn't matter how many players become all stars are either just straight ignorant or are living in the past.

the college game is moving towards the NBA and will continue to do so (reducing shot clock, increasing the 3 point line- all closer to what the NBA has in place).

Tom Jones 6 years, 5 months ago

Hilarious post, Keith, from the "majority of posters are satisfied with winning to the Big 12" to "anyone who says it doesn't matter how many KU alums become all stars are either just straight ignorant or are living in the past".

The first quote is just utterly ridiculous and something you say, knowing it is false and the second one...well...a lot of the best KU fans don't watch the NBA. So it DOESN'T actually matter to them. What matters to them is how KU does when these future NBA All Stars or future NBA players or future European or D League players or future businessmen wear a Kansas jersey. So that means they're either "straight ignorant" (irony much?) or "living in the past?"

Good stuff, man.

John Pritchett 6 years, 5 months ago

I'm not sure you understood the point of this article. College basketball is about great teams, not great individual players. To have the success we've had with so few dominant individual players is a testament to the program.

Do you really think the coach or the school is responsible for turning a Michael Jordan into a Michael Jordan, or a Wilt Chamberlain into a Wilt Chamberlain? What matters most is that a coach or a school gets the most out of its players and teams, and KU has consistently done that. I'd rather have a Jeff Withey story than a Wilt Chamberlain story. Wilt was always going to be great. Withey became far more than he was expected to become. That speaks more to the strength of a coach and a program than the number of all-stars produced.

Robert Moore 6 years, 5 months ago

Your point is? Really, who gives a d*<m? College basketball and college coaches shouldn't be about creating NBA All-Stars but quality basketball. NBA "all-stars" are a bunch of spoiled rich guys, who are payed excessively for entertaining.

Joe Ross 6 years, 5 months ago

There's nothing set in stone that says you can't be an All Star and play quality basketball simultaneously. So saith Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Cousy, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Moses Malone, Oscar Robinson, Bill Russell, Julius Erving ("Dr. J"), Patrick Ewing....

Yeah. We shouldn't create these guys. They're totally bad for basketball.

Joe Ross 6 years, 5 months ago

"Create" was a word first used by Mr. Moore above, so I stayed in the same vein. However, I do not shy away from what is observably true: that even for the greats, their college experiences helped shape them and their games immensely. Not only in terms of skill, but in terms of confidence. Magic Johnson without Michigan State may still have made it to the NBA, but as players are products of their experience there is no doubt he gained from his playing days. Same goes for Jordan and Carolina, Jabbar and UCLA, Maravich and LSU. I refuse to accept any line of argument that says Paul Pierce got nothing from his playing days at Kansas. If you zoom out and look at the question more broadly, one may translate it in the following way: does playing the college game help players--even great players--develop skills? The answer is unquestionably "yes". At Kansas I don't have to go through the number of players who have been better served by playing at Allen. To even try to think that playing in AFH didn't help develop skills is sacrilegious to my way of thinking.

Now the question becomes, if playing in college helps impart skills and confidence, are the best players immune from having their games impacted in a similar way? I dare say all the all-stars mentioned above would testify to the same. Moreover, many detractors of the OAD rule express very clearly how these players--the phenoms, mind you; the best of the best--could improve by staying in college.

But here is the most important point of all: there IS, in fact, a difference between today's all-stars and yesterdays. Todays are heavy on talent, and short on skill; whereas those of yesteryear were young men who studied the game, practiced hard, took their games to college and grew and, when their time was done, took what skills they had perfected to the professional ranks. In essence, they were skilled players who undoubtedly increased their skill level at their respective college.

There is no doubt about this whatsoever, and to imply otherwise is to embark on an escape from what the reality is.

Glen Miller 6 years, 5 months ago

Hard to get on the NBA All Star team. It's the same players every year mostly, except for one or two here and there. Only 5 guys from each conference can be on the court and probably only about 18-20 play any kind of meaningful minutes. When you have LeBron, Kobe, Harden, Durant, Westbrook, Curry, Paul, Griffin and the likes making the team year in and year out, it changes the dynamic of cracking the team. I don't take much stock from all stars in the NBA..... How many titles did Duncan, Howard, Paul and Teague win at Wake? Exactly.....

We may not have a ton of All-Stars, but we've got various guys that are in the twilight of some very productive basketball (Hinrick, Collison, Chalmers, Gooden). Some guys just getting started (Wiggins, Morris twins, Embiid, Robinson and McLemore) and some guys that will be drafted (Oubre, Svi, Diallo and more). I feel like talent wise, not many other teams have or will produce more talent and longevity than us..... All-Stars be darned.

Humpy Helsel 6 years, 5 months ago

Stars are stars, and there can only be so many. The truth is, (aside from The Truth) the college game and skills don't easily translate to the next level. Why are there so many players in the NBA you have to look up where they played their college ball? The factor of being drafted or signed by the right team with the right coach and opportunity are also factors. As noted yesterday on another story, let's compare KU guys as GM's in the NBA as compared to coming from other programs. Apparently, there is some "stuff" translating from KU to the NBA at the executive level.

Waylon Cook 6 years, 5 months ago

The late Skip Prosser obviously had an eye for NBA talent. Unsure what exactly this article is talking about. Teague I think was only one not a Prosser guy and Wake is on their 3rd coach since his death I will also be happy if Danny starts churning out all stars.

Micah Lemons 6 years, 5 months ago

I have distinct memories of Harrison Barnes NOT going to KU. I wonder who Keegan is thinking about.

John Pritchett 6 years, 5 months ago

He's lumping Self and Williams together, considering both their time at KU and at other schools. Harrison Barnes played for Williams.

John Brown 6 years, 5 months ago

Keegan writes a lot of "Penis Envy", Napoleon Complex types of articles. I hope that the readership of the LJW has a greater education than that of a middle school child. I thought KU was supposed to have a good School of Journalism.

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 5 months ago

This site is not run by the University of Kansas, it's run by the Lawrence Journal World. Tom Keegan did not attend the University of Kansas, he graduated from Marquette University.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 5 months ago

It is somewhat interesting how both Williams and Self have been able to compile remarkably successful careers without the top talent available, assuming future NBA All-Star potential is the metric. It would be nice for KU to have more NBA All-Stars but like NCAA Championships is not a requirement for KU to be considered the bluest of blue blood elite programs. Consistent success is the true metric and nothing better demonstrates that success than the 11 straight Big 12 titles (55 or so overall conference titles) and nearly 30 straight NCAA post-season appearances.

I can't put to much stock in the relatively poor NCAA tournament showing because of the format used, which is perfect for creating drama and betting pools.

Keith Gellar 6 years, 5 months ago

yes, nothing like consistent success in a watered down league where the teams are always overrated and barely can even get into the tourney.

Nothing like dominating a league where none of the other schools can come close to matching our recruiting for top talent.

yes, lets use that as our measuring stick and ignore the consistent 2nd round flameouts.

Matt Herrera 6 years, 5 months ago

Would you believe me if I said KU football had 3 players in the 2015 Pro Bowl last season?

Byron Watkins 6 years, 5 months ago

Hilarious that three times equals "consistent 2nd round flameouts" even though Self has made it to the Elite Eight or beyond nearly twice as often. I mean, he's made it to Championship Game one fewer time than he's lost in the 2nd Round.

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