Monday, July 1, 2013

Standing tall: A look at the top centers in the Bill Self era

The top centers in the 10-year Bill Self era, as selected by the Journal-World and staffs, are, clockwise from top left: Sasha Kaun, Cole Aldrich, Jeff Withey, Darnell Jackson and Markieff Morris.

The top centers in the 10-year Bill Self era, as selected by the Journal-World and staffs, are, clockwise from top left: Sasha Kaun, Cole Aldrich, Jeff Withey, Darnell Jackson and Markieff Morris.



Journal-World File Photos

The top centers in the 10-year Bill Self era, as selected by the Journal-World and staffs, are, clockwise from top left: Sasha Kaun, Cole Aldrich, Jeff Withey, Darnell Jackson and Markieff Morris.

Because of his larger-than-life status as an icon in both Kansas University basketball and NBA history, former Jayhawk Wilt Chamberlain often is the first and sometimes only center than comes to mind when talking about those who played the position at KU.

While that seems fair given Chamberlain’s incredible career and the fact that he changed the game in so many ways, plenty of quality centers have come through Kansas in the days since Chamberlain left, many in the past 10 years.

For the fifth installment of our summer series, which looks back at the top players and moments of the Bill Self era thus far, we size up the big guys who protected the rim and made life miserable for opposing offenses.

Although the four writers taking part in this series picked the same five guys for the first time this summer — three even went with the same order — they did so for different reasons and from slightly different perspectives.

Here’s a look:

Gary Bedore

1. Jeff Withey: Withey didn’t just block shots, he knocked them into oblivion. It’s amazing the force of a Jeff Withey blocked shot. He was ineffective after arriving as a transfer from Arizona, ultimately turning into the best shot blocker not named Wilt in KU history. Nice guy, too.

2. Cole Aldrich: A somewhat eccentric player, reminded me a little of Greg Ostertag in the personality department (I said “a little”). The player with the missing front tooth also was a human eraser with block after block. His NBA future is somewhat in doubt for some reason, maybe his offensive game.

3. Markieff Morris: The brother of Marcus so far has been a better NBA player than Marcus. Has a nice touch on his jumper for a big guy. Like Marcus, was a bit immature at times in college, but certainly effective if not spectacular.

4. Sasha Kaun: Kaun, like Russell Robinson, could be considered the heart and soul of the 2008 NCAA title team. Sasha truly wanted to win. Love the picture of him on the mural outside the northwest tunnel of the fieldhouse. He’s a winner. It would be nice to see him play in the NBA a few years, but he has too good a contract in his native Russia.

5. Darnell Jackson: The big teddy bear was a vicious force on the court. He came a long way from the unpolished player who arrived as a freshman. He’s overcome a lot of heartbreak in his life to be a good pro player and good man.

Tom Keegan

1. Jeff Withey: Tantamount to a 7-foot stop sign, Withey completely changed the way teams tried to score. His shot-blocking ability consistently demoralized the opposition.

2. Cole Aldrich: His powerful dunks were surpassed only by his intimidating blocked shots. Aldrich worked hard on extending his shooting range, and it paid off.

3. Markieff Morris: Terrific passer, decent shot-blocker, physical defender, strong rebounder. And he had a decent set-shot from three-point range. Caught everything that came his way.

4. Sasha Kaun: Simply would not allow opposing big men to establish position and made them uncomfortable throughout the game. So-so hands and awkward shot kept him from being a scoring force, but he set punishing screens.

5. Darnell Jackson: He ran the floor hard, wasn’t afraid to use his muscles and developed a reliable 15-foot jumper. Didn’t become a starter until his senior year.

Matt Tait

1. Jeff Withey: I’ve always said this about Withey, and I think it’s the main reason I rank him No. 1 here: Cole Aldrich was an incredible shot-blocker and took great pride in rejecting shots, but Withey took great pride in trying to take an opponent’s soul. Not content to simply redirect the ball away from its intended target, Withey so often attacked shots with violence, which kept points off the board and made players think twice about going at him again.

2. Cole Aldrich: His triple-double in the NCAA Tournament against Dayton in 2009 was one of the most impressive and memorable performances in KU basketball history. There was not a whole lot of flash to Aldrich’s game, but there was plenty of substance. As a true freshman, before he became a force and the anchor of the KU defense, Aldrich broke out by thoroughly outplaying UNC forward Tyler Hansbrough in the 2008 Final Four.

3. Markieff Morris: “Kieff” might be the most underrated Jayhawk of all-time. He was not often asked to utilize his complete game in college and, instead, served as a more powerful inside presence. Still, he was a gifted and versatile offensive player and played defense with great passion.

4. Sasha Kaun: Few KU players have looked as if they worked so hard out there on the floor. The Jayhawks never had to question whether Kaun gave everything he had. Good game or bad game, that showed all over his face every time out.

5. Darnell Jackson: One of the few true enforcers that KU has fielded in the past decade, Jackson never shied away from contact and improved as much from his junior to senior season as any player anywhere. Strictly a role player for much of his first three seasons, Jackson became a key member of the 2008 title team and had moments when he looked like the most important player on the floor.

Jesse Newell

1. Cole Aldrich: According to Basketball-Reference’s Win Share statistic, Aldrich’s 2008-09 season was the best by a Jayhawk in Self’s 10 seasons. The year after KU won the title, Aldrich was the biggest reason KU continued its Big 12 title streak, as he made 60 percent of his twos, was a top-25 shot-blocker and a top-100 offensive and defensive rebounder. His lack of success in the pros doesn’t take away from the impact he made for the Jayhawks.

2. Jeff Withey: I’ve never seen a better shot-blocker in college, and Withey’s impact went even deeper than his raw stats. Though he posted top-five block percentages in his last two years, he altered many others and also had a knack for deflecting his rejections to his teammates. Withey developed into a good-but-not-dominant scorer and was a strong-but-not-exceptional rebounder, which puts him just behind Aldrich in these rankings.

3. Darnell Jackson: Because of the talent around him, his 2007-08 season — the ninth-best in the Self era according to the Win Share stat — often gets overlooked. That year, Jackson made 63 percent of his twos, posted top-250 offensive and defensive rebounding numbers and also had the team’s second-best turnover rate.

4. Markieff Morris: He had a good sophomore year before breaking out his junior year. That season, he finished 17th nationally in effective field-goal percentage and in the top 60 in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentages. As a center, he also blocked five percent of opponents’ twos while making 42 percent of his three-point attempts.

5. Sasha Kaun: A solid four-year contributor, Kaun never became a reliable scorer but still was able to provide plenty of offensive rebounding and blocks, all while keeping his turnovers low.


Lance Hobson 9 years ago

Cole would be higher on these lists if we could have figured out Northern Iowa.

Bobby Burch 9 years ago

So is the last installment of this sereis the writers' Self era dream teams? Fun stuff, regardless.

JayHawkFanToo 9 years ago

"Withey didn’t just block shots, he knocked them into oblivion."

I believe Withey was the exact opposite. Although forceful, his block were well controlled and more often than not ended up in the hands of a teammate; that was the best part of his blocks.

Jonny Swift 9 years ago

I thought the same thing when I read Bedore's analysis of Withey. He never knocked them into oblivion. He had that soft volleyball touch. I think I remember seeing a stat one game last season where they showed how he was the most effective at blocking shots to his teammates for run outs/keeping them in bounds

Michael Bratisax 9 years ago

I hear that a lot but I'm not sure what to think. On defense a volleyball player at the line does keep his hands and body as vertical as possible but on offense you are setting up your best strikers who are hitting the ball as hard as they can to where nobody can return it.

I don't remember when the analyst began comparing Withey's shot blocking skill to his volleyball experience but once it started, everyone seemed to agree. I don't know enough about his volleyball experience or even what position he played.

dylans 9 years ago

Withey also figured out if he caught the blocked shot it counted as a rebound also. If he could've thrown outlet passes as well as Cole he could gotten a block, rebound, and assist without moving his feet.

chriz 9 years ago

Yep...I thought the same. Maybe Bedore was thinking about the fake Jeff Withey.

ccarp 9 years ago

Withey didn't just block shots, he knocked them into transition

Michael Bratisax 9 years ago

I understand what you are saying Kingfisher.. But it's more important in how the word is used now. What is its common meaning.

In battle you often hear that the enemy was decimated. Today, most would think that the enemy was completely destroyed. But the word decimated actually means to reduce by 1/10. It was not uncommon for a Roman general displeased with his army's performance to have his officers decimated as a means of motivating the other 90% who survived.

jazzhawk 9 years ago

I agree with the concept of Jeff just demoralizing those who would challenge him in the paint. My interpretation (having no official stats, though that would be great to have) is based on how many times he would block a shot, they would go back up and he would block it again, sometimes three times. You could visibly see how his multiple blocks on one possession would just deflate the opponents. Man, that was a thing of beauty!!

DanR 9 years ago

The end of the North Carolina game in the 2012 tournament comes to mind. Not on the same possession, but Ol' Roy kept telling his guards to go at Jeff and they never had a chance.

Michael Bratisax 9 years ago

To be fair.. UNC made one hell of a run starting near the end of the first half and continuing for the first part of the second half. I think they came within four points (?) Then they hit a wall. They had used up all their energy to get close but when KU started pulling away again UNC was physically finished.

Michael Bratisax 9 years ago

'the best recruiting KU has ever had'

It's always hard to pick the 'best ever' given how much the game has changed and final results. I would have thought Kentucky's class last season would be a top 20 all-time class but it came woefully lower than what the EXPERT's predictions. Yes, there were injuries and several other factors but no matter how good a class looks in September, it's April that gets the final word.

From a preseason perspective, I agree 100%. There will be several future NBA players from this class. This recruiting class is to me just as good as Kentucky's class.

From a postseason perspective I would have to go with Bill's 2005 class or Roy's 1999 class. I hope this year's 'best ever' class proves to be exactly that.

jaybate 9 years ago

Cole Aldrich mystifies me.

I cannot figure out what happened to the force of nature we saw his sophomore season. He became a great center that sophomore season. Some thing sapped him his last season and he has shown only flashes since. His pro career has been a bust. Injury seems to be the only likely explanation. He had the kind of passion Bill Walton had. I keep thinking he will find it again, but he doesn't.

Based on two seasons of 30+ wins, Jeff is the best. Period.

Kieff had the best game for the pros though.

Kaun was the best without knees.

Might have become the best had he had knees the last two years.

Marcia Parsons 9 years ago

I always thought he lost all his agression after the broken nose.

jaybate 9 years ago

Could be wrong, but I thought it was that nose break that took him a game or two get over the wobblies from that finally made him grow up and have that great sophomore season.

And it was the mystery disease (knees, diet, allergies) that took the pop out of him in his junior season.

jaybate 9 years ago

Kaun was more raw than Embiid his first season, so his numbers were anemic that first season.

Kaun's second season he started to come on strong, but he injured one knee. For the season he averaged 8.4 ppg and 56% FG accuracy, 5 rbg, and 1.1 blocks/game. He was set to make his big improvement his junior year the way so many KU bigs have done.

But Kaun's junior year saw a knee nearly blown out. Still, on one knee, he averaged 6/4 and 1.4 blocks/game.

My reccollection is that Self never let him get operated on and go through a full rehab. He kept making Kaun play through.

By the time of Kaun's senior season, he was without either knee, but still was a 6/4 guy and shot 62% from the field.

Next, recall that he averaged 57% from the field over 4 seasons, 1 where he didn't even know how to score.

I strongly believe Kaun, healthy and allowed to develop his offensive game normally his sophmore, junior and senior seasons, he couldn't have helped but become a 15/10 guy. Only great athletes like Kaun and EJ can play completely injured and still contribute significantly to a winning team. Ordinary athletes just can't get anything done without knees. Oh, and Kaun, like EJ, had a shoulder injury along the way to, if I recall correctly, so its no wonder that his shooting never developed, just as EJ's went into the S-can. Good shooting requires good wheels and a good shoulder.

Kaun appeared not to have a great touch, but then it was pretty apparent that by his senior season, with a healthy, if air headed Darrell available, that all Self wanted from Kaun was to guard the post and muscle. He wasn't even asked to rebound.

It was not skinny legged DBlock and willowly Darrell that came in and made the opponent pay for roughing up KU. It was Kaun. Kaun was so brawny by that senior season that he literally banged the other teams around more than they banged KU around. Defenders came full stop again and again against Kaun. And he had the fouls to give. That last season Kaun almost never left the floor, he just drove blocked guys across the lane.

Kaun, could have been quite a player with knees and time to develop.

Michael Bratisax 9 years ago

If I had all these players who are the subject of this article and I had to pick one player for my team, I would pick Markieff. But I would use him as a power forward because that is what he is. He is not a center even if HCBS used him as such.

I don't think he shouldn't even be included in this list.

stm62 9 years ago

I too disagree with the analysis that Withey blocked shots into oblivion. He was a very heady player and understood just where to place that blocked shot. Aspiring centers could learn a lot from watching Jeff, especially on the defensive end. It was true joy to watch an opposing player dribble into the lane, see Withey, and dribble right back out. INTIMIDATION !!!

KULA 9 years ago

Jeff was definitely Bill's best center. I still lament his first two lost years--wasted years--when he couldn't get into a game. I remember the Iowa St game his freshman year he played about 12 minutes and put up about 11 points. And I thought "why isn't this kid playing?" He ran the floor better than Cole, had a better shooting touch than Cole, was more fluid offensively than Cole, and was a better shot blocker than Cole. And, as I called back then, he'll end up having a better pro career than Cole. The brief flashes of the high/low game with Jeff and Cole looked like a coach's dream come true. So why did he languish on the bench for two years? Actually I think I know the answer--he couldn't put on weight and play Bill Self Muscle Ball. Scot Pollard was definitely on to something when he said Bill finally figured out to let Jeff be Jeff.

And yeah, I don't know what Bedore is talking about. Makes me think he never actually watched Jeff play. He reminds me of one of those network commentators in town for three hours for the game (Musburger, Vitale, ugh-Packer) who gets the team press notes--"Jeff Withey--amazing shot blocker" and just tries to embellish that for the national audience without really knowing the local team like we do. All Jayhawk fans know that the true beauty of a Jeff Withey block was how often it resulted in a Kansas possession. His blocks were more like steals or forced turnovers.

Anyway, good luck to Jeff in Portland. Looking forward to seeing him reunited with TRob.

texashawk10 9 years ago

Withey didn't do much until his junior year because he wasn't physically ready to play big minutes against teams that had some physicality to them. The reason he always seemed to be at his best against ISU and Baylor was because those teams were usually playing other lean players in the post. Even in Withey's junior season, he only played 25 minutes a game because he would get tired beating and banging in the post. That's why Withey alsways struggled against Missouri. Even though their bigs were shorter, they were thick aand physical and Withey could never handle it.

BainDread 9 years ago

Everyone seems to forget that Jeff broke a bone in his foot in the middle of September before his Sophomore season and missed most of preseason conditioning and practice. I think he would have made much more of an impact that season if he hadn't suffered that injury.

Danny Hernandez 9 years ago

Without Sasha's play in the elite 8 game, we don't defeat Davidson

yovoy 9 years ago

I'd put Kaun above Aldrich. Excepting height (maybe), his physical gifts are better than Aldrich, but he always seemed to be playing waaaay above what his "actual" ceiling probably was. I like both Kaun's and Aldrich's quirkiness as well. Kaun played lots of good games, and did lots of the dirty work that allowed the stars around him to shine. He facilitated lots of offense with his physicality on the defensive and and on the defensive glass. I know we're all still misty-eyed because that '08 team was so special (they had "juice" and swagger, which is something our teams since have been missing - IMO), but Kaun was part of that crew, and his work and personality added a special ingredient to an already-special team.

Michael Bratisax 9 years ago

Great read! Of all the centers in this discussion Sasha might be having the most professional success. Granted he is playing for Russia in the Euroleague but he is Russian and making good money in his home country.

I thought at one time that he would try his hand in the NBA but he probably made the best decision.

jhox 9 years ago

I have to agree with Withey number 1. He affected games on the defensive end more than any KU player in my memory (I remember Wilt as a pro, and actually saw him play once with the Lakers, but he played at KU before my birth.) While I loved watching Hinrich, Valentine and Releford defend on the ball, none of them intimidated to the extent Withey did in the lane the past couple of years. As someone pointed out above, he changed the way teams tried to attack us.

Michael Leiker 9 years ago

How people continue to overrate Aldrich amazes me. KU played some of its ugliest, slowest basketball in 20 years because of him. Very low ceiling w Aldrich at the 5.

Trifecta 9 years ago

I really hope Jeff can translate to a better pro and have a better career than cole has so far...

KemDooKU 9 years ago

How do you leave CJ Giles off this list - ......oh my it's beyond words!

Ben Berglund 9 years ago

I saw the headline and thought "But there have only been 3..." Really, only Sasha, Cole and Jeff were true centers. The others were PFs starting at the 5 maybe. No disrespect whatsoever to D Block and Kief. Great Jayhawks in their own right.

hawksince51 9 years ago

I agree and it factors into my rankings: Withey, Kaun, Aldrich, MkMorris, Jackson. Sasha was a 4-year, hard-working guy who did not need to be able to shoot given the other shooters on the floor. So he played his role very well and was a key contributor to the 2008

hawksince51 9 years ago

NC even though Jackson was usually the starter that year. Cole had one pretty good game as a freshman against UNC and a good sophomore year. Mk gave us a couple of good years so I gave him a slight edge over Jackson who clearly was not a natural at the 5. .

clevelandjayhawker 9 years ago

Let us appreciate coach Hudy...just remembering what Kief and Withey use to look like as freshmen.

Steve Gantz 9 years ago

The lists show a wealth of talent at the center position on that National Championship team. Cole, DJ, and Kaun were all on that team and contributed, although as some have pointed out, DJ was more of power forward than a center.

I also noticed it's the first of the summer series of the best of .... that there was agreement between all of the writers of who deserved to be on the list.

What's next, best reserves? Best Freshmen? Best 4 year player? I hope the writers keep this thing going to help us bide the time til October.

Tim Orel 9 years ago

How about best non-scholarship seasons? I am not saying players, since there may have been some who weren't on scholarship and then were, but I'd be interested in seeing who would be ranked best for playing without the scholarship.

JayHawkFanToo 9 years ago

That would be Dr. Christian Moody, best walk on ever...

Jack Wilson 9 years ago

Best possible Self lineup (5 perimeter, 4 post) -


1] Mario Chalmers

2] Ben McLemore

3] Brandon Rush

4] Thomas Robinson

5] Jeff Withey

Off the Bench

6] Darrell Arthur

7] Keith Langford

8] Sherron Collins

9] Wayne Simien

Michael Bratisax 9 years ago

With Tyshawn, you never knew what you would get. Good Tyshawn vs. Bad Tyshawn... It was actually closer to Jekyll and Hyde. There were times I was amazed at what he could do and other times screaming at the TV as Tyshawn made another boneheaded play.

Hawk8086 9 years ago

HEM, Good picks, but I have to respectfully disagree with Wayne coming off the bench.'s hard to imagine TRob not starting, but I still think that Wayne was such a good offensive player that the other team had to account for him at all times. I know he was weak on defense, and more of a post player......I imagine you are thinking an offense with Jeff and Wayne would not work. Hard to tell since this is a theoretical exercise. Trob was great, but I'd still go with Wayne.

Hawk8086 9 years ago

Maybe in retrospect, I should have said start Wayne over Withey. I guess I can't see any of them not starting!

Hawk8086 9 years ago

In retrospect, maybe I should have said that Wayne should start over Withey. The hard part is that I can't imagine any of them not starting!

Eric Harrison 9 years ago

For the best possible starting lineup, I'm trying to factor in theoretical chemistry and would personally go with: Aaron Miles (defense and distributor) Ben McLemore Brandon Rush Wyane Simien (what he lacks on defense...) Jeff Withey (will clean up)

Bench: Sherron Collins (though I wouldn't be upset if he was starter and RusRob was the defensive stopper -but I love the way Miles distributes) Mario Chalmers Keith Langford Marcus Morris Sasha Kaun (Markief or Cole probably makes more sense, but I like Kaun's energy/effort)

Jack Wilson 9 years ago

Guys .. really, I was just able to accept TT's style of play when he made the nice run the second half of his senior season. Without that, 3 1/2 seasons of up and down, inconsistency, bi-polar play. I couldn't stand it. I finally found my way to acceptance of TT, but I can't take the next leap. I would take Miles before Taylor, and would likely take Russell, too. TT's just not my kind of player. I'd rather have Collins off the bench in that role, plus Collins is more effective flexing to the 2 spot when needed than TT. I thought it was close between Chalmers and Collins, actually. The Miles argument based on being a distributor is an excellent one, too.

I do get the Marcus Morris and Simien arguments. Really, between Marcus, Arthur, and Simien, you can't go wrong. And maybe TRob off the bench wouldn't be bad. But TRob's peak season was the best season for a 4 that I think we've had.

TRob = 17.7 ppg, 11.7 rpg

Simien = 17.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg

Marcus = 17.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg

Close .. but give me TRob.

Michael Luby 8 years, 12 months ago

Man! That line up would win 10 rings. No doubt. How do you keep Simien from starting, and not the other guys? Its insane. Personally Id start Simien and take TRob off the bench. But its a severe toss up.
On a side note, if anyone sees this. Was Moody a PF? I know the guy is around 6'8" but i cant recall.

yovoy 9 years ago

HEM, Neither Morris? I guess I understand that when I look at your list again.

Got room for TT off the bench?

wrwlumpy 9 years ago

Scouting reports after Jeff's breakout Jr. season let everyone know that he had a fantastic ability to make the Walton like outlet pass. Didn't see it at all last year, and that is because other coach's find it easier to take care of his outlet pass than trying to get a shot off against the footer with incredible self control and anticipation. Let's hope that this years crop of big men make it onto the top 5 list next year, because being better than any of those 5 will be an incredible accomplishment.

Evan Bilyeu 9 years ago

I find it amazing that Jeff did all this in two years. No one had any hope for him then two years ago he blossomed into this dominate player!

Jacobpaul81 9 years ago

It's a tough debate - Self hasn't had many successful TRUE centers - Withey, Aldrich & Kaun. That's it. Jackson and Kief were both Power Forwards forced to guard centers. With only three to pick from - Withey, Aldrich then Kaun. If we're lumping power forwards in - Simeon, Robinson, Withey, Jackson, Aldrich in that order.

As for a Self all time team? There's a reason we won in 08.

I'm sure I'll take shots from some of you but give me Russell at the helm. Best floor general Self's had since Illinois. The only real LEADER he's recruited. 2nd best their, lowest assist to turnover ratio among point guards - best at avoiding the trap - Tenacious court presence. Super Mario @ 2 Rush @ 3 Simeon @ 4 Withey @ 5

Bench Miles @ 1 McLemore @ 2 Marcus Morris @ 3 Robinson @ 4 Jackson @ 4 / 5

With additional spots: Langford Aldrich

clevelandjayhawker 9 years ago

How do you leave Moody off the list? or David Padgett?

Michael Luby 9 years ago

Moody wasn't a 5. Padgett only played 1/2 a year

Virgil_Caine 9 years ago

I'd pick Withey over any of them, but no Jayhawk has stolen my heart quite like Darnell. The way he dealt with his tragic personal life and the drastic improvements he made throughout his career made us all so proud. He was basically unplayable his first two years, and grew up to be the garbage man/enforcer on the best team we've ever had.

Kevin Huffman 9 years ago

I saw Fox Sports had a "Way too early 2014 NBA Draft" and they had Embiid coming out early and being picked like 20th or so.

My hope is that he lasts 3 years with us so that maybe we could land S. Zimmerman and he could play as Embiid's back-up for a season and stay a 2nd year, perhaps? If not 3 years for Embiid, then at least 2 years w/ Zimmerman stepping in.

Phil Leister 9 years ago

If you look at all the popular mock draft sites, some have Embiid in the top 10 and some have Selden in the top 10 as well. A couple have Perry in the lottery. We'll have at least 4 future lottery picks playing for us.

Alex Peekeaton 9 years ago

You think the #1 player in his class is willing to come to any program and play a backup role???

Jack Wilson 9 years ago

Right .. Embiid might not even start next season (Black/Ellis). I think he's a two year guy for sure. If he is an OAD, it's because he earns it. And that might net out as a good thing.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 years ago


Hey, did you know that the Kansas City Star is reporting on the recent situation with Harwell, the desparately needed WR transfer from Ohio, but is reporting on past basketball centers two months before football season starts?

In case you didn't know, Harwell and his family hired a sports attorney that will be doing all he can to ensure that Nick plays this fall.

...but by all means, continue talking about how good Cole Aldrich was during his sophomore season.

clevelandjayhawker 9 years ago

I was reading that, sounds like he needs to get enrolled this week or he and us at KU are SOL

Michael Bratisax 9 years ago

I think he is by far the best player on the list...just not the best center.

Michael Bratisax 9 years ago

Yes..he plays the 4. But you're absolutely correct about 'how do you define a center' I don't think the NBA or the NCAA strictly goes by putting players into nice neat little slots. You often see teams going small or tall or whatever combination that works best.

Watching Kansas last season, I thought there were times when it was hard to say if EJ or Tharpe was playing at the point. I thought Self was purposely switching them on and off.

I admit my knowledge is strictly from a fans perspective but I think I have a pretty good base to work with. Following Kansas basketball is a 365 day job that I enjoy.

There are obviously people, such as yourself, that have a more intimate knowledge of the game but when watching a game, I think it's obvious that certain players can play multiple roles and don't fit into a neat slot.

Jack Jones 9 years ago

As I read the LJW writer's picks, and the comments made by all of you with regard to the best centers during the Bill Self reign ~ I am struck by the fact that KU basketball ~ and all of us by association ~ have been so incredibly fortunate to have had such an amazingly talented group of college players play for us ~ not only at the center/post position, but at each and every other position. For some reason, centers stand out for me ~ probably generational in nature; but also for their ability to dominate a game simply because of their size ~ in addition to exceptional talent.

My re collectivity goes back to the era of Clyde Lovellette ('49 - '52), and his beautiful, sweeping hook shot. ~ All-American, 1952 National Championship, MVP of that game, record (at that time) for most points in Final Four, member of Olympic Games Gold Medal team. B.H. Born ('52 - '54) ~ little known (outside of Kansas) HS player from Medicine Lodge, who had the unenviable task of following Lovellette. All American ('53), MVP of National Championship game (yes, in Finals 2nd consecutive year) even though we lost the Championship game to Indiana (69-68). B.H. scored 26 points, had 15 rebounds and 13 blocked shots ~ though unofficial, believed to be KU's first triple double. Member of the Gold Medal World Championships team. Wilt Chamberlain ('55 - '57) ~ 2-time All American ~ unquestionably, by any measure, the greatest basketball player of all time. Never has any player so totally dominated a game (any game) at both ends of the court. First game as freshman, playing against the varsity, (conference favorite to win the league that year) led the freshman to first ever defeat of varsity ~ scored 42 points, had 25 rebounds and 4 blocks. First varsity game, 52 points, 31 rebounds against a very good Minnesota team.
Add to those players all the terrific athletes who have stepped on the Hoch Auditorium/Allen Field House floors.

Thanks for indulging my trip back in the history book of Kansas Jayhawk basketball.

Craig Carr 9 years ago

Awesome stuff, believe Wilt's college debut was against Northwestern unless the story my dad has told me for 40+ years turns out to be wrong. Either way, Rock Chalk!

Jack Jones 9 years ago

You, and in particular, your dad are absolutely right. Thanks for the correction. Rock Chalk!

Gregor Southard 9 years ago

How about a best "6th Man" ranking? Would be fun since many of them became starters late in their careers.

Jack Wilson 9 years ago

Best 6th man? Easy .. Collins in 2008.

Someone beat that.

Michael Luby 9 years ago

Ok fellas, I always thought Darnell was more of a Pf, I suppose don't understand the difference between Center and PF. Someone please enlighten me.

Michael Bennett 9 years ago

very similar positions (many times interchangeable), the 5 (center) is usually the bigger of the two and protects the rim while the 4 (pf) is typically more mobile. In college Darnell Jackson started at the 5 while Darrell Arthur was at the 4. In the pros Darnell was at his natural 4 spot. Markieff is also a 4 in the pros. College tends to be more about using the pieces and talent you have and moving guys out of position to put the best team out there. Just my take on it, others can chime in

DocBean 9 years ago

If we're talking college players, I thought Marcus was the better player, between him and his brother. He was the guy teams were focused on every night. Now in the pros that has switched, and Markieff was even drafted first, which now looks like a smart move, but Marcus was the better college player.

DocBean 9 years ago

Nevermind, I guess Marcus was a 4. I always considered those guys interchangeable.

Michael Bennett 9 years ago

I like this idea. But I wouldn't start T-Rob at the 5 because I don't see him as a very good rim protector for opposing centers. I think Withey made him look better on the defensive end. I'd actually rather have a senior Kaun because of his motor and strength.

Tony Bandle 9 years ago

I vote for Matt Klienmann..c'mon, how many red-headed, seven foot architects do you know!!??

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