Four former Kansas basketball standouts will be among the 30 players participating in a made-for-pay-per-view basketball event in Las Vegas later this month.
KU national champions Mario Chalmers, Darnell Jackson and Brandon Rush, along with former NBA lottery pick Julian Wright, are all on different teams at the six-team, three-on-three, half-court, tournament that is scheduled to take place at Orleans Arena July 19-29.
Dubbed “The 5 Tournament Pro Basketball Invitational,” the event will feature six five-member teams representing Chicago, New York, Miami, Sacramento, Toronto and Texas.
The event, which will be played without fans in the stands, will be shown exclusively by FITE pay-per-view. Fans interested in watching can purchase a tournament pass for $69.99, which provides access to all of the games, or purchase day passes for $12.99 apiece.
The return to the court for the former Jayhawks will coincide with the NBA’s restart of the 2019-20 season.
Chalmers, 34, who enjoyed a nine-year NBA career that included two world championships in Miami, played part of the 2019-20 season in Greece before the season was cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wright, 33, who has moved on from his playing days to start his A.D.A.P.T. basketball training academy, was the No. 13 overall pick of the New Orleans Hornets in 2007 and played four NBA seasons before continuing his career overseas.
Rush, 35, last played in the NBA with Minnesota during the 2016-17 season, which capped his nine-year NBA career. He also played in Greece for part of the 2019-20 season.
And Jackson, 34, is a former second-round pick of the Miami Heat who played parts of three NBA seasons with Cleveland, Milwaukee and Sacramento before starting his overseas career.
All four were teammates with KU from 2005-07, and Chalmers, Jackson and Rush stayed together to help KU win the national title in 2008.
All four have experience in these types of basketball exhibition showcases, and they will be competing for a $100,000 grand prize that will be split by the five members of the winning team.
Here’s a quick look at each of the rosters, which feature several recognizable names and former NBA players:
Chicago: Nate Robinson, Will Bynum, Eddy Curry, Derrick Byars and Eddie Basden.
Miami: Chalmers, Ricky Davis, Craig Smith, Corsley Edwards and Rob Hite.
New York: Jackson, Demarr Johnson, Mardy Collins, Solomon Jones and Qyntel Woods.
Sacramento: Rush, Mike Bibby, Donte Green, Dahntay Jones and Jermaine Taylor.
Texas: Joe Johnson, Mike James, James White, Josh Powell and David Hawkins.
Toronto: Wright, Jamario Moon, Carlos Arroyo, Mike Taylor and Will Solomon.
My personal rankings of the rosters heading into the event look like this:
1 – Sacramento
2 – Chicago
3 – Texas
4 – Toronto
5 – New York
6 – Miami
Former NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway was involved in putting the event together and he recently sat down with Matt Striker, from FITE, to preview the tournament.
Hardaway will also be commentating part of the event for FITE.tv, along with former NBA greats Charles Oakley, Allan Houston and Matt Barnes.
With Thursday's news that the Big Ten won't be playing nonconference games in 2020, college football players seem to be realizing that their fall season is in jeopardy — including one KU player who's asking the NCAA for help.
“Dear @NCAA, Please don’t jeopardize my last season by just playing half a season or playing only conference games," Kansas defensive back Kyle Mayberry tweeted Thursday night. "I need all of my games – every last one of them.”
The senior cornerback from Tulsa, Okla., is not alone in hoping that the powers that be in college football can find a way to play games this fall, with or without fans and with or without the current scheduling structure.
But he may have sent his message to the wrong place, as the NCAA signaled Thursday night that it's not getting involved in schools' and conferences' decisions to adjust their schedules.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact college sports nationally, the NCAA supports its members as they make important decisions based on their specific circumstances and in the best interest of college athletes’ health and well-being,” the NCAA tweeted Thursday night.
In short, the NCAA confirmed what many people already suspected — that these decisions are being made and will continue to be made by school athletic directors and conference commissioners, not the NCAA as a governing body.
Maybe that’s the way it should be. After all, the varying circumstances from state to state regarding the pandemic make it difficult to envision a one-size-fits-all solution for college athletics during the next six months.
Mayberry’s tweet is about more than that, though. It also brings up the question of what will happen to athletes if the 2020-21 seasons are further postponed or canceled altogether.
That was addressed at the NCAA level this spring, when all spring sports athletes whose seasons were called off or cut short at the outset of the pandemic were offered another season of eligibility.
A similar move could be made in the year ahead for all 2020-21 college athletes, but it doesn't seem like decisions on that front are anywhere close to being made. We don’t know what’s going to happen, and we probably won’t have the complete picture available until sometime next spring.
Therefore, the idea of granting additional years of eligibility to college athletes — i.e. a free redshirt season for all — is something the NCAA and its members would have to work through on the fly. There does not appear to be any type of protocol already in place for how to handle such a situation.
While the idea of another year for all sounds great on the surface, you have to remember that making such a move would cost universities and athletic departments a lot of money — an additional year of tuition, books, housing, meals, training, etc. for nearly 500 student-athletes at KU.
That won’t come cheap. And worse yet, any such request would be coming as athletic departments are losing money and cutting costs rapidly in the wake of the pandemic.
With college football schedules being reshaped and shifted on an almost daily basis right now, it’s time to take a look at what options Kansas might have if the winds of change blow through the Big 12 Conference.
Big Ten officials announced Thursday that they were eliminating nonconference games for 2020, making the Big Ten the first of the Power Five conferences to address its football schedule for the 2020 season.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told the Dallas Morning News on Thursday afternoon that he believed it was still too early to make that sort of decision.
“The Big Ten decisions are interesting and provide additional information to inform our discussions,” Bowlsby later told the Associated Press. “At this time our medical and scientific advisors have suggested we should move ahead slowly and with constant re-evaluation. We plan to continue to prepare for all available scenarios until we are informed that some are no longer viable.”
It remains to be seen exactly what the Big Ten’s move will mean, but it's impact is already being felt across the country. Twitter was buzzing with reports quoting officials from mid-major conferences who now must adjust their own schedules and finances as a result. And fans of all programs and conferences were wondering aloud how this might impact their favorite teams.
We know the Big Ten's move will wipe out three non-conference games for all 14 league schools. But would those games be eliminated altogether or could they be replaced by filling out the rest of the schedule with other conference foes?
Remember, it’s television dollars that are the most important thing for athletic departments right now, and it’s not hard to imagine them filling the open dates with better conference games, perhaps creating better travel scenarios in the process.
For example, since Ohio State would be losing games with Bowling Green, Oregon and Buffalo, the Big Ten could elect to replace those foes with Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin.
None of those three Big Ten teams currently appear on the Buckeyes’ 2020 schedule, and all are within driving distance and would enhance OSU’s strength of schedule rating.
In the Big 12 Conference, where round-robin scheduling rules the day, no such options exist.
So what are the possibilities? Here’s a look.
• There has been chatter about Big 12 teams playing each other more than once this season. While that idea seemed a bit crazy when it first came up, it’s becoming more practical by the day.
For Kansas, wiping New Hampshire, Boston College and Coastal Carolina off the schedule would make the Jayhawks’ 2020 slate much more difficult.
In the interest of taking advantage of geography, KU would replace those games with a second matchup against Kansas State, Iowa State and Oklahoma State, the three Big 12 schools located closest to Lawrence.
All three are already on the schedule, but adding them again would be easy. You play one game at home and the other on the road.
While that still would seem a bit weird, it’s not like it would be unheard of. First of all, it happens every year in men’s and women’s basketball. Beyond that, each of the games would bring new challenges and a completely different feel, particularly if they came 6-8 weeks after the first meeting.
One thing worth remembering here is the fact that the decision to play the 2020 nonconference games as currently scheduled is not entirely up to Kansas and the Big 12. New Hampshire and Boston College would be coming a long way to play in Lawrence and the two programs might not want to do that or might not be able to.
• Geography plays a key role in the second option, as well.
And this one might be a little easier on KU’s schedule.
If the New Hampshire, Boston College and Coastal Carolina games are wiped out, KU could easily look around the region and find three opponents within driving distance who are willing to fill those dates.
Missouri State’s an option. Although the Bears are an FCS school.
Depending on what the Big Ten decides to do, Nebraska and Iowa could be options, too.
And then there’s Arkansas, Arkansas State and Tulsa, which are all drivable destinations.
The point here is to get the best game you can get while making ease of travel the top priority. Finding opponents nearby won’t be hard. But finding flexibility in the schedule could be.
One thing to consider here is that this could be an option if the powers that be elected to mix and match the first two options, too.
For example, Tulsa is a heck of a lot closer to Lawrence than Lubbock, Texas. So maybe instead of playing a full nine games against Big 12 foes this season, KU just plays the ones that are drivable and replaces the rest with regionally friendly contests.
From a Big 12 standpoint, this would be by far the easiest option for West Virginia, which is much closer to a whole bunch of schools not in the Big 12 than it is its closest Big 12 foes. The idea of playing three conference foes twice is not ideal for WVU.
• That brings us to our final option. And it might be one that West Virginia has to consider even if the rest of the Big 12 Conference is able to find replacements, should it come to that.
The 2020 college football season simply could be shortened.
Instead of 12 games, KU plays just nine this season. You’d still have a Big 12 title game and a conference champion, you’d just lose out on some of that television money.
All things considered, that’s not the worst outcome. After all, 75% of $33 million is still a pretty good chunk of change.
Besides, the first two scenarios would take some serious effort to pull off on the fly and aren’t guaranteed to work anyway.
There surely are more options than these in play (including no football at all this fall) and administrators are no doubt working on many different scenarios as we speak. These were just a few that came to mind.
No matter what happens, it’s going to be interesting to watch it play out.
Even if no games were played, Wednesday was one of the biggest, most eventful days in college sports I can remember.
First, Stanford announced it was cutting 11 of its 36 varsity sports, a scary move for the rest of college athletics that could be the beginning of a nationwide trend.
“If it can happen at Stanford, it can happen anyplace,” Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press. “They’re the broadest, most successful program in the history of college athletics, and so to see them drop a third of their program is a shocking thing.”
And later in the day, the Ivy League announced it was canceling all of its fall sports seasons and not starting any winter sports before Jan. 1.
Not only does that move affect plenty of student-athletes, but it also may impact several Power Five programs that have Ivy League teams on their schedules for the 2020-21 seasons. KU is one such team — the men’s basketball program was originally slated to welcome Harvard to Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 29. It’s not yet clear what will become of that game.
Beyond that, though, the Ivy League’s move could have a domino effect in the broader world of college sports.
First, it could be the inspiration for other conferences across the country to cancel their fall sports seasons and postpone the start of winter sports.
On Thursday, the ACC announced that it would not begin any of its fall sports competitions before Sept. 1, although reports indicated that the decision would not impact football. Later in the day, word came out of the Big Ten that conference-only competition is the most likely scheduling solution for the fall of 2020, putting a bunch of nonconference games in jeopardy.
Second, if the Ivy League programs are not able to play, other programs could soon be lining up to fill the open dates that suddenly appear on some prominent Division I basketball schedules.
A few people are already advertising.
“If you lost a game vs an Ivy League school today and need to talk about it, the Iona Gaels are here for you,” wrote Casey Stanley, an assistant men’s basketball coach at Iona, in a tweet Wednesday night. “My DMs are open!!”
Of course, the scheduling issues are more likely to be handled by administrators than by assistant coaches, but you have to give him props for being proactive. After all, what mid-major program wouldn’t want to take Harvard’s place at Allen Fieldhouse in late December?
Finally, in response to the Ivy League news, oddsmakers started to get in the game. The folks at SportsBetting.ag and BetOnline.ag put some interesting lines on the board at their website. Included among them are:
• First FBS conference to postpone fall football. The Pac-12 is the favorite at +150 (bet $100 to win $150), with the Big 12 next at +250 followed by the ACC at +300, Big Ten at +400 and SEC at +500. BetOnline listed the conferences in the same order.
• Will any FBS game scheduled for Aug. 29, 2020, be canceled or postponed? “Yes” is the overwhelming favorite here at -500 (bet $500 to win $100), with “No” coming in at +300. BetOnline had the odds even higher, with “Yes” at -800 and “No” at +425.
• Will the FBS season be postponed until the 2021 spring semester? “Yes” is the favorite again here, but not by as much, with “Yes” coming in at -120 and “No” at +120. Again, BetOnline’s odds were slightly different, with “Yes” at even money (bet $100 to win $100) and “No” at -140.
It’s clear that the answers to all of these questions are still being sorted out and worked through. And they may not be known for weeks.
But it’s also clear that Wednesday’s movement throughout college athletics registered as a “Beware of Dog” sign on the backyard gate.
We can hear the growling and are now wondering if the family pet bites.
The University of Kansas may soon be facing its first scheduling conflict from the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to reports, the Ivy League decided on Wednesday that all of its fall sports seasons had been canceled and that the league’s winter sports seasons would not begin until after Jan. 1.
The Associated Press reported that the league left open the possibility of moving some seasons to the spring if the outbreak is better controlled by then.
That decision could impact the Kansas men’s basketball program, which is slated to welcome Ivy League program Harvard to Allen Fieldhouse for a nonconference basketball game on Dec. 29.
Although Wednesday’s news certainly indicates that the KU-Harvard game could be affected, it has not been called off.
If it is, KU would have several options and likely would seek to fill the date, perhaps with a program from nearby to help promote the regional scheduling practices that many believe could be in high demand as a result of the pandemic.
“We are aware of today’s decision by the Ivy League," a KU spokesperson told the Journal-World on Wednesday evening. "However, as of right now, there have been no changes to our 2020-21 nonconference schedule.”
The Kansas Athletics website currently only lists updated 2020-21 schedules for the men’s basketball and football programs. All other schedules on the site still reflect the 2019-20 results, so it is not yet known if any other Ivy League programs were slated to face the Jayhawks this fall or winter.
Beyond individual scheduling contracts, the Ivy League’s decision is significant because of its potential to create a domino effect throughout college athletics.
In March, the Ivy League was the first conference to cancel its postseason men’s basketball tournament and the rest of the country soon followed.
It’s worth noting that the Ivy League football programs are not major players in college football’s television ratings.
Yahoo Sports columnist Dan Wetzel tweeted Wednesday that most Ivy League athletic programs actually lose money each year, which creates a drastically different set of circumstances for the Ivy League and Power Five football programs, who annually make tens of millions of dollars from their football television contracts.
CBS Sports college insider Jon Rothstein reported that the league would provide its winter sports programs with an update on practice schedules sometime in mid-July.
There’s still a lot to be sorted out and a long way to go before anyone knows whether schools like KU will have fall and winter sports seasons as currently scheduled or if they, too, will be altered or canceled.
And while the Ivy League’s news is significant, it does not necessarily mean the same fate is headed for the Big 12.
The only thing sports leaders should be promoting for fans right now is big-screen televisions, because the only way sports will have a chance to resume is if teams stay isolated and fans stay home.
Even without fans, it’s far from a guarantee that things will go smoothly enough to actually have college sports, baseball, football or the resumption of the NBA season. But at least if league and school officials pull the plug on the idea of fans in the stands today, they can put all of their attention and resources toward salvaging the 2020 seasons.
Owners, administrators and facility operators have enough on their plates without having to worry about things and people they can’t control. Even without fans, you’ve got a big challenge on your hands to keep athletes and coaches healthy and facilities and equipment sanitized at all times.
Keeping teams in a pseudo-isolated "bubble" isn't foolproof, but it can work if there are strict rules and the people living inside the bubble all have the same agenda. But when you start inviting people from the outside world into the bubble, you’re introducing a lot of variables that the sports world can't afford right now.
True, no fans will mean less revenue. Schools and franchises will be missing out on ticket sales, concessions, parking and more. But the hit taken there is nothing compared to the crippling blow they’d take if they try to bring too many people in too quickly and the whole thing falls apart.
That’s especially true in the college ranks. The cancellation of the NCAA Tournament and other spring events created enough of a financial hole. University athletic departments simply cannot face the idea of losing football television revenue on top of that.
So why not come up with a product that’s both safe and made for television?
It’s 2020. Get creative. Mic up the players and coaches. Figure out some new interactive features that will bring fans closer to the action. It’s worth a try.
After all, these seasons, no matter how they go, are going to forever be remembered as the weirdest and wildest on record. You might as well try to have a little fun in the process. Besides, whatever new initiatives don’t work can always be tossed out when things go back to normal.
Who knows? You might even stumble upon an idea that revolutionizes the way sports are consumed by fans watching at home.
I know it’ll sting. I know empty arenas will be a drag for both the players who feed off of them and the fans who usually fill them.
But at least watching on TV would provide a much-needed distraction from all of the craziness that may still lie ahead.
And you don’t need fans in the stands for that.
The Kansas men's basketball team will be welcoming a handful of new faces and seeking to replace popular starters Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike in the upcoming season, but coach Bill Self is hardly concerned with roles and minutes right now.
“As far as tinkering and stuff, it’s hard for me to come up with ideas on how to play when I haven’t even seen four of them play yet,” Self said of newcomers Bryce Thompson, Tyon Grant-Foster, Gethro Muscadin and Latrell Jossell during a recent episode of his “Hawk Talk” radio show.
Now, of course, Self has seen all four play basketball. But he has not seen them do it at Kansas, and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been a while since he’s seen them play at all. So even as talented as all four newcomers were with their high school and AAU teams, the next time Self sees any of them play will effectively be the first.
When he finally does get to see them, there will be rust. There will be growth, physical and otherwise. And all four will need time to adjust to college, Kansas, their coach and the grind.
As of today, KU’s players are expected to report to campus for summer workouts by July 19. Coaches can start working with them in a limited capacity beginning July 20. Both dates still could change as the pandemic continues to play out, but the roster likely will not.
None of this is to say that the Hall of Fame coach with more than 700 victories has no idea what he’ll do for the upcoming season. Self will probably do what he normally does, preaching defense, ball movement, effort and toughness.
The ones who handle it the best and deliver under pressure will be the ones who play the most minutes. And with the excess depth both on the perimeter and down low, Self will have many options.
“I see us playing four around one a lot,” Self said of the four-guard approach that has become the norm during recent seasons. “But we’re still going to have to play two bigs some.”
The roster has nine perimeter players, three of whom can play the 4 position in small lineups and four of whom will be playing their first games at Kansas during the 2020-21 season — five if you count redshirt freshman Jalen Wilson, who played all of two minutes in two games before getting injured last season.
The roster also has four big men who, most nights, will be asked to hold down one spot.
As a result, there are plenty of options. Three ball-handlers and two bigs? Check. Four long and athletic wings and one big man? Check. Three shooters and two bruisers? Check. And on and on.
“So let’s get them here,” Self said. “And then we’ll mess around and come up with hopefully some stuff that’ll probably look a lot like the past, (with) maybe some tweaking going on to best fit our personnel."
Despite being decked out in black and orange instead of crimson and blue, former Kansas point guard Tyshawn Taylor filled up the stat sheet in the Stillwater Stars’ opening-round loss at The Basketball Tournament on Saturday.
Taylor, who teamed with fellow former Jayhawk Naadir Tharpe to join the Oklahoma State alums, finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the Stars’ 87-71 loss to Team Brotherly Love.
Taylor, who played with a headband donning the letters “BLM” in honor of the Black Lives Matter movement, started and led the team by playing 34.9 minutes in the game that was played with the target-score Elam Ending approach in the fourth quarter.
The Stillwater Stars actually led by eight after the end of the first quarter but trailed by three at halftime and lost touch at the end of the third.
Tharpe, in a reserve role, tallied six points on a couple of deep 3-point makes and former OSU star Le’Bryan Nash led the Stars with 30 points.
Here’s a quick peek at a few of the highlights from the Stars’ loss, which eliminated them from the tournament.
Had the team found a way to win, they would have advanced another round without playing because the Eberlein Drive team that was supposed to face the winner of the Stars-Brotherly Love game had to withdraw after one of its players tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.
At an outdoor Fourth of July barbecue on Saturday night in his hometown of Opelousas, Louisiana, Class of 2021 wide receiver Keon Coleman orally committed to play football at Kansas.
The two-sport athlete who also hopes to play basketball in college picked KU over Oklahoma and South Carolina.
Seated in front of a camera in his driveway with his mother to his left, Coleman revealed on Instagram Live that Kansas was his pick by announcing for KU and putting on a cloth face mask that read “Kansas” in white letters against a blue background on one side and had an American flag on the other.
“This is my mask for the rest of quarantine,” Coleman said. “Rock Chalk.”
The feed drew more than 400 viewers in less than five minutes and Coleman said he wanted to wait until it crossed the 500-viewer mark to make his announcement.
Coleman is a three-star prospect according to Rivals.com, but it’s his four-star rating at 247 Sports that has caught people’s eye.
Coleman’s 247 Sports composite rating of .9064 makes him the highest rated prospect to commit to the Kansas football program since 2000, passing current KU running back Pooka Williams, who carried a rating of.9055.
In addition, 247 Sports has Coleman ranked as the 116th best overall player in his class and the 14th best wideout in the country.
Coleman joins Lawrence High commitment Devin Neal — a four-star running back — as the two highest rated prospects in the 2021 class to date, and the Jayhawks' ability to pull him away from perennial powerhouse Oklahoma is an indication of his potential.
“He could show up and sleepwalk and be the best athlete we’ve got by far,” Opelousas head coach Thomas David recently told SI.com.“There is nobody close. But when you watch him work, you see why schools like Oklahoma and Florida State are finding him at a 1A school in Louisiana.”
Listed at 6-foot-4, 188 pounds, Coleman caught 35 passes for 1,200 yards and 22 touchdowns during his junior season. He also averaged 20 points per game for Opelousas Catholic on the basketball court.
According to Jon Kirby of JayhawkSlant.com, Coleman talked to KU basketball coach Bill Self about walking on to the KU hoops squad during his recruitment.
“Coach Miles said I can make an impact on the football team and coach Self said I could do the same for basketball,” Coleman recently told JayhawkSlant. “It shows that they want me for both sports. I like them a lot. It’s a good opportunity. They are all good people. Coach Miles was telling me he wants to help me get that Heisman (Trophy).”
KU receivers coach Emmett Jones was the lead recruiter for Coleman throughout his recruitment and he is now the 13th player to commit to Kansas in the current football recruiting class.
KU asked. So I figured I’d answer.
OK, so they didn’t ask me specifically. Instead, the Kansas men's basketball Twitter account recently put out a tweet that asked all of its 930,000 followers one simple question.
Who’s on your KU basketball Mount Rushmore?
I know people have done this over and over for decades. But, with tomorrow being the Fourth of July, I figured it made sense to do it again. Plus, you never know when it might change.
I’m not sure I’ve ever done one of these just for KU hoops. I know I’ve thought and written about it for KU sports as a whole. And that task wasn’t much easier than this one.
The way I see it, you can look at this task three separate ways.
No. 1, you can pick four people tied to Kansas basketball as your four faces of the program and its storied history.
No. 2, you can do a players-only version of a Kansas basketball Mount Rushmore.
And No. 3, you can do a coaches-only version.
For my money, the first and third options are actually the easiest. It’s No. 2 that gets a little tricky. More on that in a minute.
Let’s take a look at No. 1 first and pick four faces that represent all of the success and stories associated with more than 100 years of Kansas basketball.
It has to start with James Naismith, the inventor of the game and KU’s first coach. From there, you quickly realize that no KU hoops Mount Rushmore is complete without Wilt Chamberlain, the larger than life KU center who did amazing things in college and went on to become one of the greatest players to ever play the game.
Although things get a little cloudier from there, you can’t pick four faces without one of them being the program’s all-time scoring and rebounding leader, so Danny Manning is on there, as well.
And then there’s Bill Self. He’s got a title. He’s got the Big 12 title streak. He’s got 700 wins (and counting) and his winning percentage and record are the best the program has ever seen.
So my overall KU basketball Mount Rushmore is Naismith, Chamberlain, Manning and Self.
For the next two options, we’re already halfway done because two of those four will land on the players-only version and the other two on the coaches-only version.
As I mentioned earlier, option 3 — the coaches rock — is pretty easy, as well – Naismith, Self, Phog Allen and Roy Williams.
You’ve already heard the case for the first two, and the case for Phog Allen is pretty convincing, as well.
The building is named in his honor. He recruited Chamberlain. He won a whole bunch of games in his 40-year career, including a national title in 1952, and he is widely known as The Father of Basketball Coaching.
With those three basically locks to be on the list, it came down to Larry Brown and his 1988 national title or Roy Williams and his 418 wins in 15 seasons. I went with Williams because of longevity and the fact that, until Self came along, the clip at which Williams won games was almost unheard of.
He left KU with an .805 winning percentage after leading the Jayhawks to four Final Fours and two runner-up finishes.
Now let’s get to the toughest of the three – the players-only Mount Rushmore.
As I mentioned, two of the four are locks in Chamberlain and Manning. I can’t imagine anyone who knows anything about Kansas basketball not having both of those guys.
But from there, it gets wild.
No. 3 on my list is Mario Chalmers and his inclusion comes down to one shot. If the 3-pointer he hit to send the 2008 national title game to overtime never went down, Chalmers wouldn’t even be in the running here.
However, it splashed, Kansas won the title and Chalmers became one of those forever heroes. Many have called that shot the biggest shot in the history of Kansas basketball and it continues to be celebrated today, 12 years later, during the pregame intro video, through a giant mural inside Allen Fieldhouse and on the walls of thousands of KU fans, who have the image framed.
It’s not as if Chalmers was an average player who happened to hit a big shot. He had a terrific KU career and was a huge part of all three Kansas teams for which he played. But that shot elevates him to Mount Rushmore status because, at a place like KU where it’s title or bust, Chalmers delivered when it counted most.
Trying to identify the fourth player who belongs on the players-only Mount Rushmore is an absolute nightmare. There are just so many choices and, really, no wrong answers.
If it’s titles, talent and stats you like, then it’s hard to leave Clyde Lovellette off. If it’s stats alone, it’s hard to look past Nick Collison, who ranks right up there with Manning on KU’s all-time scoring and rebounding lists and led KU to two Final Fours.
If you favor the total package and lean toward guys who were stars at Kansas and standouts in the NBA, you have to look at players like Jo Jo White and Paul Pierce.
And then you also have to address the recency bias, which easily puts players like Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham in the conversation.
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t think there’s a wrong answer here. But, for my money, I think it’s Lovellette who is most deserving.
Not only did he lead KU to a national title, but he also averaged 20-plus points per game for three consecutive seasons and went on to win a gold medal at the 1952 Olympics, as well.
Despite playing just 80 games over three collegiate seasons, he still ranks fourth on KU’s all-time scoring list (1,979 points) and 11th in career rebounds (839).
Overall: Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning, Bill Self and James Naismith
Players Only: Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning, Mario Chalmers and Clyde Lovellette
Coaches Only: James Naismith, Phog Allen, Roy Williams and Bill Self