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Jackson, Mason as motivated as any Jayhawks ever to make strong transition to NBA

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Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) puts his arm around teammate Frank Mason III (0) during a timeout in the first half, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017 at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) puts his arm around teammate Frank Mason III (0) during a timeout in the first half, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017 at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

“They will be sorry,” and “You won’t regret it.”

Two very different sounding phrases uttered by former Kansas basketball stars who on Thursday night were drafted into the NBA, Josh Jackson as the No. 4 overall pick and Frank Mason III as the fourth pick of the second round.

Provided Wayne Selden Jr., sticks with the Grizzlies and recently rehabbed point guard Mario Chalmers gets back into the league with someone, the addition of Jackson and Mason to NBA rosters brings the current total of Jayhawks in the NBA to 18.

I’ve been around all but a few of those players and it’s hard for me to imagine any of those who came before them being quite as driven and focused to make their presence felt as Jackson and Mason.

That presence may come in very different ways and at distinctly different times — hence the two different sounding phrases that kick-started this blog — but there’s no doubt that both players are well positioned to use their best skills — toughness, tenacity, work ethic, effort — to prove to their teams and others that they will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

A quick glimpse into the crystal ball has that vision looking a little different for the two Jayhawks.

For Jackson, the sky is the limit. The versatile wing, with a ridiculously talented all-around game and unending desire to polish all aspects of it, has the potential to be a 10-year NBA starter and play in at least a couple of All-Star Games.

He had that potential heading into his lone season at Kansas. He had that potential before the first pick was even made on Thursday night. And after waiting a full 31 minutes for his name to be called at No. 4 to Phoenix, that potential now has a little motivation behind it.

Jackson proved that after he was drafted by calmly proclaiming at his post-draft presser that those teams that did not draft him — all three of them — one day would be sorry.

I don’t doubt it. Because I know Jackson a little bit and I know that he’s not going to pull back one bit in his pursuit of that goal. It’s not in his DNA to ease up, and now that he has a reason, real or perceived, to go even harder than he already has, you’re talking about an exciting situation for the Phoenix franchise.

As for Mason, who took to Twitter after he was picked to thank the Kings for drafting him and promise them that they would not regret it, the idea of him becoming a force in the NBA looks a little different.

But before we examine exactly what that means, let’s remember that nine months ago this was a player who was not on anybody’s NBA radar and the young man damn near cracked the first round.

Impressive. Incredible. In every way, exactly the kind of thing that Frank Mason has done throughout his entire basketball playing life.

So for Mason, that whole force to be reckoned with talk looks a little less All-Starish and a little more like a veteran point guard who enjoys a long career and becomes one of the more respected and well-liked players on whatever roster he’s on. Think Paul Pierce meets Nick Collison.

After Thursday’s draft, KU coach Bill Self talked glowingly about the situations inherited by both of his former players. He loves the fit for Mason, who will be able to both play and help rebuild the culture with the Kings. And he thinks Jackson, no matter who he’s playing for, is ready to make a significant impact on the NBA immediately.

Regardless of how long it takes for either player to reach his full potential, there’s no doubt in my mind that few Jayhawks before them have been as ready, and at the same time as motivated, to transition to the pro game full-speed ahead.

It should be fun to watch and both Phoenix and Sacramento should benefit a great deal from that mindset and determination.

Current Jayhawks in the NBA

Cole Aldrich – Minnesota Timberwolves

Darrell Arthur – Denver Nuggets

Tarik Black – Los Angeles Lakers

Mario Chalmers – TBD

Nick Collison – Oklahoma City Thunder

Cheick Diallo – New Orleans Pelicans

Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers

Josh Jackson – Phoenix Suns

Frank Mason III – Sacramento Kings

Ben McLemore – Sacramento Kings

Marcus Morris – Detroit Pistons

Markieff Morris – Washington Wizards

Kelly Oubre Jr. – Washington Wizards

Thomas Robinson – Los Angeles Lakers

Brandon Rush – Minnesota Timberwolves

Wayne Selden Jr. – Memphis Grizzlies

Andrew Wiggins – Minnesota Timberwolves

Jeff Withey – Utah Jazz

Comments

Phil Leister 3 months ago

This shows how much I follow the NBA... Is Kirk Hinrich retired/out of the league?

Tracey Graham 3 months ago

Hinrich is not officially retired, but he didn't play in the NBA last year. It's possible he could try and return this year, but he's 36 years old and with his list of recent injuries, I have a feeling we've seen the last of him as a player. I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up becoming an assistant coach sooner rather than later, though.

Collison may retire as well. He barely played with OKC last season and his contract is up. And he'll be 37 in October. I could see the Thunder offering him a coaching or front office job but I don't know if they'll re-sign him as player.

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