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Posts tagged with Mario Chalmers

Dedric Lawson repeatedly reminded of painful March Madness memory from his childhood

Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) turns around for a shot over Texas forward Jericho Sims (20) during the second half, Thursday, March 14, 2019 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) turns around for a shot over Texas forward Jericho Sims (20) during the second half, Thursday, March 14, 2019 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Nick Krug

Kansas City, Mo. — Prompted Thursday night after his Big 12 tournament debut to take a trip down his personal March Madness Memory Lane, Dedric Lawson’s roots popped up.

A native of Memphis, Tenn., and, of course, a former Memphis Tiger himself, it came as no surprise that his hometown college basketball program left quite an impression on him as a child.

Though Lawson said he didn’t run around Memphis as a youngster wearing a Derrick Rose or Chris Douglas-Roberts jersey, those were his two favorite players when he first started following the game closely.

The Memphis basketball program really began to take off under then-head coach John Calipari when Lawson was in elementary school, and Lawson found himself drawn most to Douglas-Roberts, a versatile small forward not too dissimilar from the player Lawson would grow to become.

“He was more of like a 3,” Lawson said of why as a child he chose the 6-foot-7 Douglas-Roberts as his favorite player instead of the explosive point guard, Rose. “I met those guys when they were at Memphis. We used to go around the program and things like that. They was real cool. Robert Dozier (a Tigers big man), he was real, real cool, too.”

Years later, when Lawson was a member of the Memphis program, playing his first season under coach Josh Pastner and his second for Tubby Smith, some of those Tigers he grew up admiring would come back around.

“We played pickup together and things like that. Those were cool people,” Lawson said.

And with Memphis basketball so much a part of his DNA, Lawson couldn’t help but laugh about the fact that his favorite childhood team lost to Kansas in the 2008 national championship game.

Lawson was 10 years old when the man who is now his head coach, Bill Self, guided the Jayhawks to an overtime victory against Calipari and Memphis.

Was he bitter at the time?

“I definitely was,” a smiling Lawson admitted, adding he remembers it like it was yesterday.

Kansas guard Mario Chalmers elevates for the three-pointer that put the game into overtime. Chalmers connected with 2.1 seconds left to tie it at 63, and the Jayhawks went on to win, 75-68 in overtime, April 7, 2008, in San Antonio.

Kansas guard Mario Chalmers elevates for the three-pointer that put the game into overtime. Chalmers connected with 2.1 seconds left to tie it at 63, and the Jayhawks went on to win, 75-68 in overtime, April 7, 2008, in San Antonio. by Nick Krug

Perhaps unfortunately for Lawson and those old March Madness scars from his time as a fan, he gets a reminder of that pain before every KU home game, when the hype video plays a clip of Mario Chalmers’ iconic 3-pointer that sent the 2008 title game to OT.

“I’m cool with it now,” a laughing Lawson shared. “I’m a part of both cultures. There’s not really too much bitterness no more. And Mario, he’s a cool guy, as well. It was great for Mario. It was something great that happened for him, something sad that happened for Memphis.”

Of course, Lawson and the Jayhawks aim to create their own March Madness memories this weekend and beyond. And right now, their focus is on Friday night’s semifinal at Sprint Center, where they will meet up with an unlikely foe, No. 10 seed West Virginia.

Lawson couldn’t have imagined before the Big 12 tournament began that KU would be facing the Mountaineers.

“Nah. We was definitely expecting Tech,” Lawson said. “Of course, everybody probably was. Just to kind of play them again — we lost to them by like 20 — so we wanted to play against them guys again,” he added, referencing KU’s 91-62 loss at Texas Tech on Feb. 23.

“But it’ll definitely be a competitive game,” Lawson said of facing a WVU team that upset Kansas in Morgantown, W.Va., back in January. “They’re not gonna quit. They’re gonna come out playing with a lot of intensity and very hard.”

Reply 3 comments from Phil Leister Dirk Medema Tyson Travis

Amid rumors and speculation, Mario Chalmers defends LeBron James as ‘great teammate’

FILE — The Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) speaks with Mario Chalmers (15) during the first half in Game 7 of the NBA basketball championships against the San Antonio Spurs, Thursday, June 20, 2013, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

FILE — The Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) speaks with Mario Chalmers (15) during the first half in Game 7 of the NBA basketball championships against the San Antonio Spurs, Thursday, June 20, 2013, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

In what is typically the most dormant time of year in the NBA, the league remains abuzz in late July thanks to some off-the-court drama coming from the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions. News came out this past week that Cleveland All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, who helped the Cavaliers win the 2016 NBA championship, asked the organization to trade him.

From there, rumors and speculation exploded — via social media and legitimate news outlets — on a perceived strained relationship between Iriving and four-time league MVP LeBron James.

While there are layers to the story that might not be revealed for months, or even years, many are left asking themselves why someone wouldn’t want to play with James, the greatest player of his generation.

What is James like as a teammate? Someone who knows the answer to that question, former Kansas guard Mario Chalmers, shed some light on the subject during an interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio.

Chalmers, of course, won two NBA titles while playing alongside James in Miami for four seasons. Now a member of the Memphis Grizzlies, the eight-year veteran complimented The King on SiriusXM, but admitted it can be “tough sometimes” to play on the same team as LeBron, due to his dominant presence.

“He’s the best player in the NBA, so it boils down to the coach. Is the coach going to get everybody else involved, or is he gonna let ’Bron decide when he wants to get everybody else involved? So that’s one of the things we were going back-and-forth with in Miami,” Chalmers began. “But as a teammate — he’s a great teammate. I’ve never had any problems. Even when we had that one argument on the court. At the end of the day, we’re still brothers. We were over that after it had already happened, and the media made it more than what it was.”

Although Chalmers and James had their differences, the role-playing guard wasn’t about to call James a bad teammate. If Chalmers had to guess, Irving’s desire to abandon a lineup that’s the favorite to reach The Finals for a fourth straight year stems from something other than it being difficult to play with James.

“He’s a great teammate, a great dude,” Chalmers said. “And when you’re a guy like Kyrie, and you’re young and you’re the man, I can see him wanting to be traded to be on his own team. But I don’t think it’s as personal as what everybody is trying to make it seem.”

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Devonté Graham projects as one of KU’s all-time great point guards

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) gets in for a bucket against Kansas State during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) gets in for a bucket against Kansas State during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

From time to time during Devonté Graham’s freshman season at Kansas, the young point guard exhibited the shooting, passing and decision-making of a veteran.

The 6-foot-2 lead guard from Raleigh, North Carolina, scored a team-high 14 points in his debut, came away with three steals against Florida in a comeback victory, didn’t miss a shot on his way to a career-high 20 points against TCU and got KU to overtime by hitting two clutch free throws late against West Virginia.

The floor general in the making, though, made his most lasting impression in the Jayhawks’ season-ending loss to Wichita State in the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 32. Graham led KU with 17 points, pilfered five takeaways and knocked down three 3-pointers.

For a program that has suffered two consecutive early exits in March Madness, optimism abounds for Kansas heading into the 2015-16 season. The Jayhawks are expected to be just as good as — if not better than — any of the nation’s projected top teams, such as North Carolina, Kentucky, Duke, Maryland, Iowa State, Virginia and Arizona. The return of Graham, Perry Ellis, Frank Mason III, Wayne Selden Jr., Brannen Greene, Jamari Traylor, Landen Lucas, Svi Mykhailiuk and Hunter Mickelson to go with another highly regarded recruiting class brings on those expectations.

At Kansas, one comes to expect significant individual improvements from season to season, and Graham has heaps of potential as a point guard. Just ask his coach, Bill Self.

“Devonté’s gonna be our next Aaron Miles,” Self proclaimed at KU’s end-of-season team banquet. “That’s what Devonté is. He’s Aaron, but can actually shoot it better than Aaron. A lot better than Aaron.”

Miles could be considered the last true point guard to start at Kansas. Most of Self’s primary ball-handlers through the years have played more like combo guards or scoring point guards.

How does Graham compare to Miles and other former KU ball-handlers? We’ve only seen one season of Graham, so it helps to narrow down the sample size for all the players in the discussion. Check out the NCAA Tournament numbers for Miles, Graham and every other lead Kansas guard to play a significant role during his freshman season in the past 15 years.

Each Jayhawk point guard is listed with the season of his tourney debut and the seed KU earned that year.

Kirk Hinrich — 2000, No. 8 seed

Kansas University players Kirk Hinrich, left, and Drew Gooden, try to steal the ball from Colorado's Jamahl Mosley. KU defeated Colorado, 84-69, to register the 1,700th victory in program history.

Kansas University players Kirk Hinrich, left, and Drew Gooden, try to steal the ball from Colorado's Jamahl Mosley. KU defeated Colorado, 84-69, to register the 1,700th victory in program history. by scott-mcclurg

• vs. No. 9 seed DePaul — 81-77 win (OT):

8 points, 3/4 FGs, 2/2 3s, 4 assists, 5 turnovers, 4 rebounds in 29 minutes

• vs. No. 1 seed Duke — 69-64 loss:

12 points, 4/7 FGs, 3/5 3s, 1/3 FTs, 6 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 rebounds in 28 minutes

— Averages: 10 ppg, 63.6% FGs, 71.4% 3s, 33.3% FTs, 5.0 assists, 4.0 turnovers, 3.0 rebounds in 28.5 minutes

Aaron Miles — 2002, No. 1 seed

Jayhawks Aaron Miles, left, and Keith Langford, hug each other in
the waning moments of Sunday's Midwest Regional final in Madison,
Wis.

Jayhawks Aaron Miles, left, and Keith Langford, hug each other in the waning moments of Sunday's Midwest Regional final in Madison, Wis. by Scott McClurg/Journal-World Photo

• vs. No. 16 seed Holy Cross — 70-59 win:

7 points, 3/8 FGs, 0/1 3s, 1/1 FTs, 1 assist, 5 turnovers, 2 steals in 36 minutes

• vs. No. 8 seed Stanford — 86-63 win:

8 points, 2/4 FGs, 0/0 3s, 4/4 FTs, 5 assists, 4 turnovers, 4 rebounds, 1 steal in 25 minutes

• vs. No. 4 seed Illinois — 73-69 win:

13 points, 5/11 FGs, 1/3 3s, 2/2 FTs, 5 assists, 3 turnovers, 7 rebounds, 1 steal in 35 minutes

• vs. No. 2 seed Oregon — 104-86 win:

6 points, 2/10 FGs, 0/2 3s, 2/2 FTs, 8 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 rebounds, in 30 minutes

• vs. No. 1 seed Maryland — 97-88 loss:

12 points, 1/7 FGs, 0/4 3s, 10/12 FTs, 10 assists, 3 turnovers, 3 rebounds, 2 steals in 28 minutes

— Averages: 9.2 points, 32.5% FGs, 10% 3s, 90.4% FTs, 5.8 assists, 3.6 turnovers, 3.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals in 30.8 minutes

Russell Robinson — 2005, No. 3 seed

Kansas University freshman Russell Robinson, right, drives against
Texas A&M's Dominique Kirk during a game Jan. 5 at Allen
Fieldhouse. Robinson and fellow backup point guard Jeff Hawkins are
battling for the right to be No. 2 off the bench behind senior
Aaron Miles.

Kansas University freshman Russell Robinson, right, drives against Texas A&M's Dominique Kirk during a game Jan. 5 at Allen Fieldhouse. Robinson and fellow backup point guard Jeff Hawkins are battling for the right to be No. 2 off the bench behind senior Aaron Miles. by Journal-World File Photo

• vs. No. 14 seed Bucknell — 64-63 loss:

Did not play

— Averages: DNP

Mario Chalmers — 2006, No. 4 seed

Kansas guard Mario Chalmers drives to the bucket against the Bradley defense in the second half.

Kansas guard Mario Chalmers drives to the bucket against the Bradley defense in the second half. by Nick Krug

• vs. No. 13 seed Bradley — 77-73 loss:

15 points, 6/11 FGs, 2/4 3s, 1/2 FTs, 0 assists, 5 turnovers, 3 steals, 3 rebounds, 5 fouls in 34 minutes

— Averages: 15.0 points, 54.5% FGs, 50% 3s, 50% FTs, 0.0 assists, 5.0 turnovers, 3.0 steals, 3.0 rebounds in 34.0 minutes

Sherron Collins — 2007, No. 1 seed

Kansas guard Sherron Collins lunges to the bucket above Kentucky guard Jodie Meeks during the first half of Sunday's second-round game against the Wildcats at the United Center in Chicago. Left is Kansas forward Darnell Jackson and right is Kentucky forward Sheray Thomas.

Kansas guard Sherron Collins lunges to the bucket above Kentucky guard Jodie Meeks during the first half of Sunday's second-round game against the Wildcats at the United Center in Chicago. Left is Kansas forward Darnell Jackson and right is Kentucky forward Sheray Thomas. by Nick Krug

• vs. No. 16 Niagara — 107-67 win:

15 points, 4/9 FGs, 2/3 3s, 5/6 FTs, 6 assists, 0 turnovers, 4 steals, 1 rebound in 20 minutes

• vs. No. 8 Kentucky — 88-76 win:

8 points, 4/11 FGs, 0/2 3s, 2 assists, 3 turnovers, 1 rebound in 26 minutes

• vs. No. 4 Southern Illinois — 61-58 win:

2 points, 1/3 FGs, 0/1 3s, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, 2 steals, 3 rebounds in 23 minutes

• vs. No. 2 UCLA — 68-55 loss:

0 points, 0/4 FGs, 0/1 3s, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 1 rebound in 15 minutes

— Averages: 6.3 points, 33% FGs, 29% 3s, 83% FTs, 2.8 assists, 1.8 turnovers, 1.5 steals, 1.5 rebounds in 21.0 minutes

Tyshawn Taylor — 2009, No. 3 seed

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor charges up the court after a steal during the first half Friday, March 27, 2009 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor charges up the court after a steal during the first half Friday, March 27, 2009 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. by Nick Krug

• vs. No. 14 seed North Dakota State — 84-74 win:

8 points, 4/9 FGs, 0/1 3s, 0/1 FTs, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 2 rebounds in 27 minutes

• vs. No. 11 seed Dayton — 60-43 win:

3 points, 1/5 FGs, 0/1 3s, 1/3 FTs, 3 assists, 6 turnovers, 1 steal, 3 rebounds in 27 minutes

• vs. No. 2 seed Michigan State — 67-62 loss:

8 points, 2/4 FGs, 0/1 3s, 4/4 FTs, 2 assists, 3 turnovers, 1 steal, 1 rebound in 28 minutes

Averages: 6.3 points, 38.8% FGs, 0% 3s, 62.5% FTs, 2.0 assists, 3.7 turnovers, 0.7 steals, 2.0 rebounds in 27.3 minutes

Elijah Johnson — 2010, No. 1 seed

Kansas defenders Thomas Robinson, left, and Elijah Johnson pressure Nebraska forward Christian Standhardinger during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2009 at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Kansas defenders Thomas Robinson, left, and Elijah Johnson pressure Nebraska forward Christian Standhardinger during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2009 at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. by Nick Krug

• vs. No. 16 seed Lehigh — 90-74 win:

0 points in 1 minute

• vs. No. 9 seed Northern Iowa — 69-67 loss:

Did not play

— Averages: 1 GP, 0.0 points in 1.0 minutes

Josh Selby — 2011, No. 1 seed

Kansas guard Josh Selby elevates for a bucket between Boston defenders Patrick Hazel, left, and Dom Morris during the second half on Friday, March 18, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa.

Kansas guard Josh Selby elevates for a bucket between Boston defenders Patrick Hazel, left, and Dom Morris during the second half on Friday, March 18, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa. by Nick Krug

• vs. No. 16 seed Boston — 72-53 win:

4 points, 2/6 FGs, 0/2 3s, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 2 rebounds in 15 minutes

• vs. No. 9 seed Illinois — 73-59 win:

0 points, 0/0 FGs, 2 assists, 0 turnovers, 1 rebound in 10 minutes

• vs. No. 12 seed Richmond — 77-57 win:

9 points, 3/9 FGs, 3/5 3s, 0 assists, 1 turnover, 3 rebounds in 17 minutes

• vs. No. 11 seed VCU — 71-61 loss:

2 points, 1/5 FGs, 0/3 3s, 0 assists, 0 turnovers, 1 rebound in 15 minutes

— Averages: 3.8 points, 30% FGs, 30% 3s, 1.0 assists, 0.5 turnovers, 1.8 rebounds in 14.3 minutes

Naadir Tharpe — 2012, No. 2 seed

Naadir Tharpe (1) launches a three-point basket to pull KU back to within 4 points in the first-half of KU's third-round game against the Purdue Boilermakers in Omaha, Sunday, March 18.

Naadir Tharpe (1) launches a three-point basket to pull KU back to within 4 points in the first-half of KU's third-round game against the Purdue Boilermakers in Omaha, Sunday, March 18. by Mike Yoder

• vs. No. 15 seed Detroit — 65-50 win:

0 points, 0/3 FGs, 0/1 3s, 1 assist, 2 turnovers in 13 minutes

• vs. No. 10 seed Purdue — 63-60 win:

3 points, 1/3 FGs, 1/3 3s, 0 assists, 1 turnover, 1 rebound in 4 minutes

• vs. No. 11 seed North Carolina State — 60-57 win:

Did not play

• vs. No. 1 seed North Carolina — 80-67 win:

Did not play

• vs. No. 2 seed Ohio State — 64-62 win:

Did not play

• vs. No. 1 seed Kentucky — 67-59 loss:

Did not play

— Averages: 1.5 points, 17% FGs, 25% 3s, 0.5 assists, 1.5 turnovers, 0.5 rebounds in 8.5 minutes

Conner Frankamp — 2014, No. 2 seed

Kansas guard Conner Frankamp puts up a three over Stanford guard Chasson Randle to get the Jayhawks within two points with less than a minute remaining on Sunday, March 23, 2014 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

Kansas guard Conner Frankamp puts up a three over Stanford guard Chasson Randle to get the Jayhawks within two points with less than a minute remaining on Sunday, March 23, 2014 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

• vs. No. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky — 80-69 win:

10 points, 3/6 FGs, 0/2 3s, 4/4 FTs, 4 assists, 0 turnovers in 25 minutes

• vs. No. 10 seed Stanford — 60-57 loss:

12 points, 4/8 FGs, 4/7 3s, 0 assists, 0 turnovers, 2 rebounds, 1 steal in 18 minutes

— Averages: 11 points, 50% FGs, 44% 3s, 100% FTs, 2.0 assists, 0.0 turnovers, 1 rebound, 0.5 steals in 21.5 minutes

Frank Mason III — 2014, No. 2 seed

Kansas guard Frank Mason dumps a pass inside against Stanford during the first half on Sunday, March 23, 2014 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

Kansas guard Frank Mason dumps a pass inside against Stanford during the first half on Sunday, March 23, 2014 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

• vs. No. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky — 80-69 win:

2 points, 1/1 FGs, 0/2 FTs, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 4 rebounds in 9 minutes

• vs. No. 10 seed Stanford — 60-57 loss:

2 points, 0/4 FGs, 0/3 3s, 2/2 FTs, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 2 rebounds, 1 steal in 22 minutes

— Averages: 2 points, 20% FGs, 0% 3s, 50% FTs, 3.0 assists, 1.0 turnover, 3.0 rebounds, 0.5 steals in 15.5 minutes

Devonté Graham — 2015, No. 2 seed

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4), left, celebrates in front of New Mexico State guard DK Eldridge (1) after the Aggies threw the ball out of bounds in the first-half of the Jayhawks second-round NCAA tournament game against New Mexico State Friday, March 20, 2015 at the CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Neb. .

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4), left, celebrates in front of New Mexico State guard DK Eldridge (1) after the Aggies threw the ball out of bounds in the first-half of the Jayhawks second-round NCAA tournament game against New Mexico State Friday, March 20, 2015 at the CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Neb. . by Mike Yoder

• vs. No. 15 seed New Mexico State — 75-56 win:

8 points, 2/6 FGs, 2/2 3s, 2/2 FTs, 4 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 rebounds in 25 minutes

• vs. No. 7 seed Wichita Stte — 78-65 loss:

17 points, 5/13 FGs, 3/8 3s, 4/4 FTs, 3 assists, 1 turnover, 1 rebound, 5 steals in 29 minutes

— Averages: 12.5 points, 37% FGs, 50% 3s, 100% FTs, 3.5 assists, 2.0 turnovers, 1.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals in 27 minutes

Now let’s throw all those stats in one place to make things easier, and see which KU freshman point guards/combo guards truly performed the best.

Key: BLUE NUMBERS = Best in the group; RED NUMBERS = 2nd-best

KU Freshman PGs NCAA Tournament Numbers — 2000 to present
Player (year) GP PPG FG% 3% FT% APG TOPG RPG SPG MPG
Kirk Hinrich ('00) 2 10 64% 72% 34% 5.0 4.0 3.0 -- 28.5
Aaron Miles ('02) 5 9.2 33% 10% 90% 5.8 3.6 3.2 1.2 30.8
Russell Robinson ('05) 0 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Mario Chalmers ('06) 1 15 55% 50% 50% 0.0 5.0 3.0 3.0 34.0
Sherron Collins ('07) 4 6.3 33% 29% 83% 2.8 1.8 1.5 1.5 21.0
Tyshawn Taylor ('09) 3 6.3 39% 0% 63% 2.0 3.7 2.0 0.7 27.3
Elijah Johnson ('10) 1 0 -- -- -- 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0
Josh Selby ('11) 4 3.8 30% 30% -- 1.0 0.5 1.8 0.0 14.3
Naadir Tharpe ('12) 2 1.5 17% 25% -- 0.5 1.5 0.5 0.0 8.5
Conner Frankamp ('14) 2 11 50% 44% 100% 2.0 0.0 1.0 0.5 21.5
Frank Mason III ('14) 2 2.0 20% 0% 50% 3.0 1.0 3.0 0.5 15.5
Devonté Graham ('15) 2 12.5 37% 50% 100% 3.5 2.0 1.5 2.5 27.0

When you stack the numbers together, four guys stand out as the clear-cut leaders: Kirk Hinrich, Aaron Miles, Mario Chalmers and Devonté Graham.

Hinrich led in FG% (64%), 3-point % (72%) and took second place in assists (5.0) and rebounds (3.0).

Miles played in the most games (5), dished the most assists (5.8) and pulled down the most boards (3.2), while posting the second-best free-throw numbers (90%) and minutes played (30.8).

In his one tournament game as a freshman, Chalmers scored 15 points, swiped 3 steals and played 34 minutes to lead the group, and finished second in FG% (55%), 3-point % (50%) and rebounds (3).

Graham’s numbers look just as good as the ones posted by any of those other three guys. By the way, Hinrich, Miles and Chalmers all became some of the best Kansas players in recent memory. Graham hit 100% of his free throws to tie the departed Conner Frankamp for first, and had the second-best numbers among the 12 freshman point guards in points (12.5), 3-point % (50%) and steals (2.5).

Limiting the turnovers-per-game numbers to those who played at least 20 minutes, Graham’s 2.0 giveaways were only bettered by Frankamp (0.0) and Sherron Collins (1.8).

After playing in his first NCAA Tournament game this past March, in Omaha, Nebraska, Graham said staying loose keyed his performance on that stage.

“When you have fun,” he said, “a lot of good things happen.”

Graham didn’t didn’t just look comfortable, he stood out as someone who could change the flow and make a critical impact.

“As soon as the game started, as soon as I got on the court, after I got up and down, started sweating a little bit, I just felt like it was another normal game,” Graham said. “I’m not thinking about how big it is and all the pressure. You’ve just gotta be calm in that situation.”

Whether Graham starts or remains a key backup in his sophomore season has yet to be determined. KU’s summer play at the World University Games should heavily play into that decision for Self.

After averaging 18.1 minutes, 5.9 points and 2.1 assists as a freshman, all those numbers figure to increase in Graham’s second season at KU. Self likes what he has in Graham, and even if Mason keeps his starting spot the two easily could could play side-by-side for long stretches to give KU a pair of play-makers.

“When we’re in a game together, we’re always thinking: attack,” Graham said of teaming up with Mason. “It’s kind of hard to stay in front of both of us at the same time. We try and break the defense down, find the right guys open to pass it to — create for others and also ourselves.”

More playing time for a more experienced Graham should mean more success for the Jayhawks next season, as they try to get back to the Final Four for the first time since 2012. That KU team had Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson as point guards, and neither looked nearly as good his freshman season as Graham did.

Reply 22 comments from Tom Keegan Pius Waldman Titus Canby 1stnamemistermiddlenameperiod Biek Paul Christiansen Maxhawk James Baker Greg Lux Benton Smith and 12 others