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Monday, March 14, 2016

NCAA preview: Top 12 KU players responsible for the conference-crown winning streak

Kansas senior point guard Sherron Collins gets an emotional hug from head coach Bill Self as he is honored by the Allen Fieldhouse crowd before tipping off against Kansas State, Wednesday, March 3, 2010.

Kansas senior point guard Sherron Collins gets an emotional hug from head coach Bill Self as he is honored by the Allen Fieldhouse crowd before tipping off against Kansas State, Wednesday, March 3, 2010.

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Every Kansas University basketball player who has a Big 12 championship ring from 2005 on has a share in the remarkable streak of 12 consecutive regular-season Big 12 championships.

Identifying the 12 players with the biggest shares of the streak is a task as difficult as choosing the 12 biggest insults leveled from one candidate to another during this particularly lively campaign season.

12 Ben McLemore: A second-team All-American and first-team All-Big 12 pick in 2013, McLemore led the team in scoring, showing equal skill shooting threes and dunking and played strong defense.

11 Andrew Wiggins: A second-team All-American and first-team All-Big 12 in 2014, Wiggins exploded for 41 points in a loss at West Virginia. His blurry-quick first step and long stride led to many thrilling dunks, and his long arms enabled him to recover with a steal or blocked shot after getting beaten off the dribble. He’s the favorite to become the first Bill Self-coached Kansas player to participate in the NBA All-Star Game.

10 Wayne Simien: He would be much higher on this list if he had participated in more than one of the seasons (2004-05) of the 12-year title run. He earned first-team All-American honors and was Big 12 Player of the Year.

9 Jeff Withey: The 7-footer went scoreless in a game at Missouri and failed to chase down a loose ball at the next Kansas practice. Self made him run the Allen Fieldhouse steps while his teammates continued to practice. Withey turned into a beast from that point forward. His wide shot-blocking range enabled Thomas Robinson to concentrate more on rebounding than defending, and they complemented each other beautifully all the way to the national-title game in 2012. The next year, Withey joined McLemore as first-team All-Big 12 and second-team All-American. Two-time selection to the Big 12 All-Defensive squad.

8 Mario Chalmers: He earned Big 12 All-Defensive team honors and was the team’s second-leading scorer to Brandon Rush in each of his three seasons at Kansas. Long before The Shot, he had gained a reputation as being the team’s best shooter with a game on the line.

7 Marcus Morris: A three-year starter who arrived at Kansas as a passive player who didn’t seem terribly interested in mustering the energy to dunk, Morris developed into a nasty competitor who attacked the rim with vicious dunks, had great vision he used to set up teammates and a soft shooting touch down low, at mid-range and on the perimeter. His hands were even softer, and he never bobbled a pass or a rebound. As a college player, he was even better than his brother, Markieff. A three-year starter, Marcus earned All-Big 12 first-team honors as a junior and was a second-team selection as a sophomore. He was a second-team All-American as a junior.

6 Perry Ellis: A four-time state champion in high school and a four-time Big 12 champion for Kansas, Ellis is a three-year starter and two-time All-Big 12 first-team selection. Come out to try to prevent him from scoring from the perimeter, and he’ll blow right by you. Play off of him, and he’ll bury a jumper in your face. Quick and fast, Ellis quietly has had a terrific career.

5 Cole Aldrich: A rugged rebounder and a shot-blocker who covered so much ground, Aldrich steadily improved, all the way to second-team All-American in his third and final season, 2009-10. Two-time All-Big 12 first-team and two-time Big 12 All-Defensive team honoree played with smarts, toughness and for a while with a hockey-goalie mask.

4 Thomas Robinson: The strength and explosiveness were evident from his freshman season, but he was out of control at the start of his career. Developed into Wooden Award runner-up and first-team All-American during his junior season. Played with such power and hustle that he seemed to demoralize opponents.

3 Tyshawn Taylor: The lone four-year starter during the streak, Taylor played 33 minutes eight days after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus. KU had no shot of continuing its conference-title streak without a big freshman season from Taylor. He delivered. KU needed a big-scoring senior season from Taylor, who did not average double figures in his first three seasons, to keep the streak alive. Again, he delivered, averaging 16.6 points.

2 Brandon Rush: He and Andre Emmett of Texas Tech are the only three-time All-Big 12 first-team selections. Rush led the team in scoring in each of his three seasons in Lawrence. His blend of length and quick feet made him a terrific on-ball defender on a variety of different type scorers.

1 Sherron Collins: He played basketball the way late, great Joe Frazier boxed, forever the aggressor, always advancing, never retreating. He played a huge role on all four of his championship teams, going from a wild, super-quick freshman to a senior who didn’t have quite the same quickness because of a knee history and added pounds. He more than compensated with savvy, slicing apart any opponent silly enough to try a zone defense against Kansas. An excellent finisher and shooter, Collins could get a shot whenever he wanted and knew how to dish to teammates after breaking down defenses on relentless drives to the hoop.


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Comments

Kevin Boone 1 year, 6 months ago

Great list! I would've put Russell Robinson in there somewhere alongside Chalmers, maybe ahead of Wiggins. We've had some tremendous players, and I think the streak is in good hands with our returning players. Rock Chalk!

Dirk Medema 1 year, 6 months ago

Withey is a great NBA compliment to TRob but at KU he often sat against teams with a perimeter 4 because neither was going very far from the paint.

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