Monday, June 3, 2013

Good point(s): A look at best point guards in Bill Self era

The top points guards in the Bill Self era at Kansas University, as chosen by the Journal-World/ staff, are, clockwise from upper left: Naadir Tharpe, Jeff Hawkins, Russell Robinson, Sherron Collins, Elijah Johnson, Aaron MIles and, at center, Tyshawn Taylor.

The top points guards in the Bill Self era at Kansas University, as chosen by the Journal-World/ staff, are, clockwise from upper left: Naadir Tharpe, Jeff Hawkins, Russell Robinson, Sherron Collins, Elijah Johnson, Aaron MIles and, at center, Tyshawn Taylor.



Journal-World File Photos

The top points guards in the Bill Self era at Kansas University, as chosen by the Journal-World/ staff, are, clockwise from upper left: Naadir Tharpe, Jeff Hawkins, Russell Robinson, Sherron Collins, Elijah Johnson, Aaron MIles and, at center, Tyshawn Taylor.

For the past few summers, those of us at the Journal-World and who cover Kansas University teams and athletes have taken part in a variety of summer series projects designed to provide a deeper look at the Jayhawks and a quick peek inside our minds.

With another summer now upon us, it’s time to dive into this year’s series of Monday features. Rather than picking arbitrary or abstract categories or breaking down various teams or position battles, we’ve decided to use this summer to look back at the Bill Self era.

Last season capped Self’s first decade as the head coach at KU, and during that time all kinds of highlight players, moments and memories have made their way into Kansas basketball lore.

For the next 10 weeks, we’ll look back at several of them, through the eyes of those of us who had the best seats in the house. KU basketball beat writer Gary Bedore has been there every step of the way and put his stamp on every one of these athletes and events. Sports editor Tom Keegan arrived in town two years into Self’s stint at Kansas and has provided unique insight into all the ups and downs of the past eight years. And Matt Tait and Jesse Newell, in one way or another, also have been around for most of the fun and viewed things in a slightly different way than the staff’s upperclassmen.

We’ll kick off the series with five straight weeks of the top players of the Self era. We’ll start with point guards today and move through all five positions in the weeks that follow. Then we’ll dive into a few more team-oriented topics, such as best game, best comeback, best bench players and more.

Gary Bedore

  1. Sherron Collins: The Chicago native was a bit undersized — meaning too short — to make it in the NBA, but he was great in college. He could hit the deep jumper and drive to the hole. He still could make some money in Europe if he commits himself to getting and staying in shape. He’s just carrying too much weight to be effective again.
  2. Aaron Miles: Miles would rather set somebody else up for a shot than take the shot himself. He was an extremely unselfish player and one of the nicest guys in the Self era as well.
  3. Russell Robinson: He was ornery enough to turn down a chance to enter a game for mop-up minutes his freshman season at Baylor, later emerging as the heart and soul of an NCAA championship team. I also liked the “New York, New York” pregame intro of Robinson at home games.
  4. Tyshawn Taylor: I especially enjoyed the way he embraced his senior year, relishing every minute of it and choosing to be the unofficial team spokesman. He never hid from doing interviews, just enjoyed his final campaign, which, frankly, all seniors should do.
  5. Jeff Hawkins: The defensive whiz from Kansas City, Kan., could stick a deep three-pointer when needed. He never became a star but was a fine role player. I loved talking to his mom during the recruiting process and loved seeing Hawkins mature to the point he’s now Perry-Lecompton’s outstanding boys basketball coach.

Tom Keegan

  1. Sherron Collins: Was too smart for Baylor’s zone defense and too relentless to let the hot-shooting Bears win in Allen Fieldhouse in a memorable 100-90 shootout. Overtime victory in Manhattan also comes to mind. Amazingly skilled basketball player who loved to compete.
  2. Tyshawn Taylor: Quicker than Cool Papa Bell and cooler than Hot Rod Hundley, Taylor sometimes was too quick for his own good and wasn’t a gifted passer. Still, he was a defense’s biggest nightmare because he consistently blew by his man.
  3. Aaron Miles: Pure point guard knew the ball needed to get into Wayne Simien’s hands and knew how to get it there.
  4. Russell Robinson: Tremendous defender who learned to let better scorers take the majority of the shots.
  5. Elijah Johnson: We never will know whether Kansas could have defeated Michigan had the refs done the right thing and ejected him in the opening minutes.

Matt Tait

  1. Tyshawn Taylor: Few players have been as loved and hated during their time at KU as Taylor, the four-year starter who showed flashes of brilliance and moments of madness throughout his Kansas career. The one thing that never wavered with Taylor was his effort. Whether he made an outstanding play or one that drove people crazy, both were born from tremendous effort and I always respected that about him.
  2. Aaron Miles: For my money, he’s the best pure passer ever to play at KU. His career assist total (954, tops in KU and Big 12 history) certainly backs up that claim, but it was not just the fact that Miles racked up stats that always impressed me. It was the way he did it: calm, poised and with a smirk.
  3. Sherron Collins: One of the top competitors in college basketball history. Collins’ will to win, especially at the end of games and in crunch time, was unmatched by anybody in the Self era.
  4. Naadir Tharpe: As president and founder of the #TharpeFanClub, I couldn’t overlook the KU junior, and two years from now I’m betting you’ll understand why. I’ve liked Tharpe’s demeanor from Day One. He’s a confident and capable point guard and a born leader.
  5. Russell Robinson: I always thought his role as the “glue guy” on the 2008 national championship team was mentioned way too much and way too often. As proven by his long and solid pro career overseas, Robinson is talented enough to do it all yet smart enough to know that team didn’t need him to.

Jesse Newell

  1. Sherron Collins: The best point guard on the 2008 national title team, even if he didn’t start. The fact that he later became a consensus first-team All-American only seals his spot on the top of this list.
  2. Tyshawn Taylor: Four-year starter whose accomplishments on the court more than made up for a few off-the-court struggles. The second half of his senior year was — I believe — the best that any point guard has played under Self at KU.
  3. Russell Robinson: The fact he was the starting point guard on the 2008 title team boosts him up to third. His offensive stats were never special, but his on-ball defense was.
  4. Aaron Miles: Had advanced stats been more prevalent in his day, Aaron Miles might not have gotten as much national love because of a high turnover count. He still was a great distributor and also worked to make himself into a 50-percent three-point shooter his senior year (40 of 80).
  5. Elijah Johnson: Fair or not, he will be remembered for three games: saving KU against Purdue in the NCAA Tournament his junior year; going for 39 points against Iowa State his senior year; and committing costly late turnovers in the loss to Michigan in his final game. His senior season, statistically, was one of the worst of any player in Self’s KU tenure.


Joseph Leon 8 years, 11 months ago

i love that keegan's best recommendation for putting elijah in the top 5 is that we might have won the michigan game if he had been ejected in the first minute. (i loved elijah and hated that his senior year sucked so hard.)

hawk316 8 years, 11 months ago

I love this idea for a summer series! Great thinking, guys. I'm already looking forward to the next installment.

Phil Leister 8 years, 11 months ago

I've got beef with anyone who included Elijah Johnson. He only played point for one season and we all know that was not his best year. His one year at PG was a huge letdown when compared to his productivity as the shooting guard his first three years. If we're including EJ's play at shooting guard, then Mario Chalmers needs to be on this list.

Also, Sherron is hands down the best PG under Self. There is no argument.

Jonathan Briles 8 years, 11 months ago

I completely agree. Johnson was a shooting guard for 3 of his 4 years and the one year he played the true point guard he had his worst season and as Newell said the worst statistical season under Self. I'm not saying Johnson was not a great player, but he certainly was not a top 5 point guard under Self.

RockChalk0808 8 years, 11 months ago

I would take Russ Rob over Sherron any day. RR was under rated at the time and becomes even more so as time passes. His defensive pressure allowed Mario to break the all-time steals record. How is Rio's defense now that he's a pro? Not nearly as fearsome as it was when paired with RR tenacity.

Sherron's lack of discipline is his legacy. His senior season, we peaked in the first couple months. Why? The offense was predicated on Sherron's ability to drive and score. Sherron is the only player I can remember that continued to gain weight throughout the season. By tourney time, Sherron lacked the explosiveness to finish at the basket, bc he was too heavy. I think we lost in the 2nd round that year? How many times did Sherron dribble into the lane, only to realize that he couldn't finish and then turn the ball over? Not to mention that he had to rely on under-classmen to wake him up and get him to practice. That's not the leadership I want from my senior PG.

jhox 8 years, 11 months ago

No Sherron = No 2008 National Championship. He willed us to that win and many others in close late game situations. The definition of toughness should include Sherron's name. I loved RussRob but Sherron had a better overall career at KU.

Too bad Sherron didn't have that toughness when it comes to saying no to cheeseburgers, or he'd have had a shot at sticking in the NBA. If he still had the same quickness and athleticism he had as a freshman at KU height wouldn't have been as big of an issue.

Andrew Horigan 8 years, 11 months ago

You could also say no Arthur no 2008 Championship, No Rush no 2008 Championship, No Chalmers no 2008 Championship, No Jackson etc... That was how that team won a championship, by playing a complete team style. Yes Sherron got the steal and hit the 3 towards the end, but I don't think it's fair to simply say, No Sherron = No Championship.

lurkerhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

I know it was a concerted team effort. It seems we only acknowledge Chalmers' miracle shot and Collins' 3 and his pass to Chalmers that game though. Everyone seems to forget what a beast of a game Arthur had with 20 points and 10 boards.

KCJHawk08 8 years, 11 months ago

That mid-range jumper that Arthur hit down the stretch - where every KU fan drew in their breath, because it didn't initially look like a good shot attempt - was absolutely huge. People seem to forget that shot.

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 11 months ago

Not to argue because I agree 2008 was a "TEAM'' championship but since this is about PGs and Collins made what I believe was the single most greatest play of the tournament when he intercepted the inbound pass then knocked down the three, I think the "No Sherron = No 2008 National Championship" line is valid.

I still had Tyshawn ahead..barely. A 'Who was the MVP in 2008?' question would make for a great debate. Rush would be my choice...

RockChalk0808 8 years, 11 months ago

I agree his steal -> 3 pointer was crucial, but many crucial plays were made at clutch moments. We don't beat UNC without Sasha Khan, in my opinion. My point was that if I were a coach, I would rather have Russ.

Kevin Huffman 8 years, 11 months ago

Sweet 16. In the 2nd round, Aldrich had that Triple-Double against Dayton.

We lost to Michigan State in a good close, tight game.

Whoops!!! My bad.

You're right. Sr. year was the loss to UNI - I was at that game!!! :(

JacquesMerde 8 years, 11 months ago

"Elijah Johnson: We never will know whether Kansas could have defeated Michigan had the refs done the right thing and ejected him in the opening minutes."

"Elijah Johnson: Fair or not, he will be remembered for three games: saving KU against Purdue in the NCAA Tournament his junior year; going for 39 points against Iowa State his senior year; and committing costly late turnovers in the loss to Michigan in his final game. His senior season, statistically, was one of the worst of any player in Self’s KU tenure."

And still they listed him in the top five!!! GASP

As strictly a point guard, disregarding Collins' senior year as a scorer, I pick Russell Robinson. If scoring the ball is part of the criteria, then Collins ought to be number one.

Jesse Newell 8 years, 11 months ago

Hey HawkOverseas — You make good points about playing PG. Just to clarify, I wanted to let you know how we came up with these lists.

First, Matt and I separated each player into their "best-fit" position. Obviously, there are going to be arguments and good points to be made each way, especially because Self likes to play with "bigs" and "smalls" and sometimes mixes positions together. However, this keeps us from posting Mario Chalmers (and others) at two or three different positions, which would be kind of silly.

Chalmers was slated as a shooting guard in our list, while Johnson was a point guard (as though he played shooting guard, his most important season was at point).

We then listed the top five from those lists.

In this case — speaking for myself — though Johnson's play at PG might not have been great his senior year, I was comparing his career to that of Hawkins, Tharpe, etc. For me, he's still in the top five.

Hope that makes sense.

Benz Junque 8 years, 11 months ago

Not only was his plau at PG "not great", it was awful. Johnson's one year as a PG was pathetic. If he is one of the five best PGs for Self then Self has a bad group of PGs to choose from. Don't let sentiment for EJ for what he did in previous years at a different position cloud your judgement. EJ was a terrible PG. Pick virtually any other player that has played the position for Self and put him ahead of EJ.

Benz Junque 8 years, 11 months ago

Not only was his play at PG "not great", it was awful. Johnson's one year as a PG was pathetic. If he is one of the five best PGs for Self then Self has a bad group of PGs to choose from. Don't let sentiment for EJ for what he did in previous years at a different position cloud your judgement. EJ was a terrible PG. Pick virtually any other player that has played the position for Self and put him ahead of EJ.

Kevin Huffman 8 years, 11 months ago

Well, they also have Jeff Hawkins & Naadir Tharpe up in the picture and under consideration and neither started (yet in Tharpe's case).

So really you're only conversing about S. Collins, Ty. Taylor, A. Miles (who you could argue wasn't really Self's anyway) & Ru. Robinson.

I could've sworn that I'd remembered Chalmers plaing some PG also I mistaken? But that would be even less than E. Johnson so....

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 11 months ago

EJ was the 4th best PG and a 5 star recruit (Rivals) out of HS in 2009 but I also agree that at KU, he was primarily a SG.

HCBS coaching style makes it difficult to fit a player into a nice neat category. I might have gone with the Top 10 Guards in the Bill Self era. The top SGs & SFs also have a lot of overlap...

As for best PG, I have to go with Tyshawn Taylor followed closely by Collins. I found it hard to include two of Roy's recruits, especially Aaron Miles who was a true PG and started every game except senior night his freshman year.

DCLawHawk 8 years, 11 months ago

I agree with HawkOverseas. Elijah was not recruited as a PG. He would stack up more favorably compared to other Hawks at his natural position. That said, I would be curious where LJW staff would rank Mario as a point guard. He actually had more assists than RussRob in 07-08. If you were to consider him in this category for sake of argument, does he rise to #1 on everyone's list? He was the best at steals. He had an excellent 3-pt %. He got to the line. And, unlike any of the folks listed above, Mario is actually playing the PG position as a starter in the NBA. Where would he rank on your list at KU?

My top 5 would be: 1. Mario (for reasons given above) 2. Miles (leader in assists; did more with less; played under control) 3. Collins (lost some games by trying to do too much himself; great leader/warrior) 4. Taylor (also liable to take too much on himself at times, but he could blow by people like none other and got to the line like no other) 5. RussRob (defense, even-keeled leadership, and consistent).

I'm a Tharpe fan too though, so I expect he'll crack my list before his playing days at KU are over.

Phil Leister 8 years, 11 months ago

That's a good list. I'd place Sherron above Miles, but that's it. If we're going to include Mario for the sake of discussion (even though he technically wasn't a PG at KU) I'd place either him or Sherron at 1.

I do hope the writers consider EJ for the shooting guard lists. For his first three years, he was a total stud while playing his natural position. I'm not sure it's fair to rank him only as a PG.

JayHawkFanToo 8 years, 11 months ago

You cannot count Mario as PG at KU just because he now plays PG in the NBA or because he had more assist than RussRob. Mario played some PG in his freshman year and he was turnover machine. LeBron has almost twice as many assist per game as Mario, more steals and a better 3 point shooting percentage, but you would not call LeBron a PG, would you?

deberg81 8 years, 11 months ago

I feel like we are about to become "shooting guard U"

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 11 months ago

deberg81...Either that or 'combo guard U'. I'm not sure if HCBS ever uses the ranking services to fill out a certain position. Obviously pure conjecture but I think he is more likely evaluating how a player will fit in with the team and work within his coaching style.

To me, EJ is an excellent example. The 4th highest ranked PG (Rivals) in '09 was only used as a PG out of necessity. I think he was recruited to play primarily as a SG and back-up PG.

JayHawkFanToo 8 years, 11 months ago

So, professional writer are getting their emotions get the best of them and you are not? Even when you are the one shouting?

Kevin Huffman 8 years, 11 months ago

I never was a Miles' fan.

Did he just shoot something awful or something?

I just remember not caring much for him. I think he didn't seem overly confident either from my memory bank.

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 11 months ago

Not a great shooter but a great passer. He was KU's all-time assists leader when he graduated.

He also led KU to 2 Final Fours as the starting PG.

Kevin Huffman 8 years, 11 months ago

***What?!?!? I like Naadir too but he's not faster than Tyshawn!!! Heck, Sherron (when in shape) was pretty speedy actually.

What I liked about Naadir was that K-State game when he suddenly looked like a capable PG with REALLY NICE passes upon penetrating. Need to see more of that.

KJD 8 years, 11 months ago

Love the topic, tough to choose even in this limited era. Try doing a top 5 all-time and the task gets so much more difficult.

Sherron as number 1 is a strong choice for the Bill Self era since he was in the 7 man rotation for the 2008 championship team, he was key in the furious comeback against Memphis in the title game, he was clearly the floor leader on the KU team after 2008, and nobody else since Bill has been here has seemed to be the floor persona of Bill on the floor as much as Sherron embodied-both are fierce competitors. Sherron drained threes in the clutch and he was a bowling ball attacking the rim.

There just seemed to be a special connection between Bill and Sherron. I would be much surprised if Sherron'acon isn't a regular for grill outs over at the Self's this summer while Collins works out in Lawrence for next season. The more Sherron is over at the Self's for diner the more others can monitor Collins desire for the extra helping of Brisket and Pork Beans. Mmmmm, KC Brisket and Pork beans sounds good.

1-5 I agree with Bedore. That means at #4 there is Tyshawn Taylor–the Point Guard on a Kansas team that had a spectacular run to the National Championship game. 1-4 this is a mean list to try and crack into to say that you belong among the best over the last 10 years. An embarrassment of riches.

At #5 is Jeff Hawkins who earned the nickname 'J-Hawk' by Coach Self early on in the Self era. Seriously, if the coach calls you 'J-Hawk' you are earning it big time, you are being put in the spotlight as an example for others on the team and that example was effort. Earning the 'J-Hawk' nickname early on must have helped set the tone for the program moving forward which for me is the tie breaker against Reed or Morningstar though I do luves me so Brady Morningstar defense.

Since effort is a big deal on a Bill Self team, especially defensive effort, I would rather have Reed or Morningstar on my list before Tharpe. Both Reed and Morningstar also understood the team game on the offensive side of the ball so much better than Tharpe has shown. Remember that between Morningstar's Junior and Senior year he was in San Francisco working out at a Point Guard skills camp though he had the D skills to play against the other teams best perimeter player. Tait might be right in a couple of years though Tharpe has not earned it yet, not by a long shot.

mattiesdad 8 years, 11 months ago

Gee, I wonder what the greatest comeback will be? The suspense! Fun series. Looking forward to summer Mondays.

Chris1955 8 years, 11 months ago

It's got to be the last game Mizzou played in Allen Fieldhouse. I'll never forget that game, and hope I never lose it on my DVR.

Kye Clark 8 years, 11 months ago

Tait's list loses all credibility putting Naadir on it over anybody, and in this case it's not just anybody (I might have lived with it over EJ or Jeff Hawkins), but over RussRob? It's like Tait is the NBA draft of the bunch - just going off potential.

Matt Tait 8 years, 11 months ago

I like the comparison!!! Gotta take risks to get rewards!

JacquesMerde 8 years, 11 months ago

How about columnists who are about 30 years old writing about "the best in KU history!!" hmm Hubris, look it up.

Joe Joseph 8 years, 11 months ago

Who said anything about "the best in KU history?"

Marcia Parsons 8 years, 11 months ago

Didn't you notice this whole series will be about players and occurrences from the 10 years Self has been here?

VaJay 8 years, 11 months ago

OK, so there was a little disappointment for us all his senior year, but try to remember the 08 final with his remarkable steal & 3 ball, then the final rush downcourt & the great-almost-out-of-control pass to Mario for the dagger 3. We are still stuck just fondly, distantly remembering the 88 championship without his heroics in 08. That gives him a lot of leeway in my book.

And on a side note - fortunately, I've never had a weight problem, but I know a lot of people who have one and its a lifelong battle for them. For some of the posters on this board to make light of Sherron's weight issue is a bit sad.

Joe Joseph 8 years, 11 months ago

No point guard was as important to the success of his team than Tyshawn Taylor was his senior year. I would take that Tyshawn over any point guard KU has had since Vaughn. Unfortunately, you gotta take the good with the bad, so I'd probably put Collins at the top as well. Tyshawn #2.

Miles may have been a pure point guard, but will probably be the last one of that type under Bill Self. He clearly values the scoring type and Miles was far from a scorer. Imagine if someone like Brady Morningstar had played point guard in place of Miles over the course of his tenure. His only job is to bring the ball up the court and pass to All-Americans Nick Collison, Drew Gooden, Kirk Hinrich, and Wayne Simien. Morningstar may not have had 900+ assists, but he would have had a lot. Miles #3.

Russell #4, though I would take him before Miles if I were to create a team.

After that, it's a wash for #5.

milehighhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

Naadir Tharpe and Jeff Hawkins?


Andy Tweedy 8 years, 11 months ago

At least Tharpe is still a work in progress. Hawkins? I don't get it either. Love the guy, but how he gets on this list I have no idea!

KEITHMILES05 8 years, 11 months ago

Newell having EJ on the list is laughable and embarassing. Evidently he felt an obligation to mention him? Whatever. We are talking POINT GUARDS for crying out loud.EJ wasn't anything close to that in ONE season. I'll give Newell a pass on this one as he was attempting to humor his readers.

Old style PG award to A. Miles. New style award to Collins at 1A and Russ Robb at 1B.

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

I'm glad I re-read the headline that includes " in Bill Self era ". I was about to come unglued that the LJW guys had left Jacque Vaughn off of the list. Ok - I'm going to go get more coffee now.....

TD_Jayhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

Mario Chalmers was as much of a point guard as Elijah Johnson and mario had more career assists than EJ even though he played 25 fewer games.

Not even fair to compare Mario's impact to Jeff Hawkins or Tharpe at this point.

I understand Mario was primarily a #2, but Russell wasn't on the floor all the time, and when you average 4 assists/game for your career, you were handling the ball a significant amount of the time as PG.

rcjh88 8 years, 11 months ago

Is this a look at the "best" point guards in the Bill Self era or just ranking them? Aren't these guys the only point guards in the Bill Self era? Or at least the only ones who had any impact?

Rock_Chalk_NYC 8 years, 11 months ago

Exactly! It looks more like a list of All KU point guards, lol...

Excited for big things out of Nadir this year but to rank him on the list as titled is a bit silly.

ku_foaf 8 years, 11 months ago

There weren't that many! Tyshawn was a four year starter, Aaron Miles was two years, Collins started most of his career, at least three, if sometimes questionable memory serves. It is almost just a list of the starters in the Self era.

Jeff Schartz 8 years, 11 months ago

Was TJ Whatley during the Bill Era at any time? Best mustache in a KU uniform ever. Period.

Bobby Burch 8 years, 11 months ago

"Elijah Johnson: We never will know whether Kansas could have defeated Michigan had the refs done the right thing and ejected him in the opening minutes."

This comment sounds like it should be on the "worst PGs" of the Self era, TK ...

Johnson was an athletic, charismatic teammate that could finish with the best of Self's guards, and could knock down the three when needed. He also was a large part of how KU made to the '12 title game. Unfortunately his senior year will be all that KU fans remember of Johnson, but I'll remember his big grin and great transition play.

Jeff Suther 8 years, 11 months ago

Tait, I can see why you write about football, just an absolutely terrible list

Bobby Burch 8 years, 11 months ago

The only person I disagree with on Tait's list is Tharpe ... the dude hasn't even finished his career at KU yet! Furthermore, he hasn't even started at PG yet.

Perhaps just an attempt to diversify the lists, as the writers pretty much all had the same PGs. Tharpe's a head scratcher though.

Matt Tait 8 years, 11 months ago

Bingo! Didn't want all four lists to be the same... That would be boring. Plus, Naadir's my guy! Remember: These lists are simply our ranking of these players how we liked them, not necessarily who we think is best. Remember that and you'll enjoy the series more.

Phil Leister 8 years, 11 months ago

I get that. But Matt, your headline says "best". You should change it to "most liked".

Matt Tait 8 years, 11 months ago

Yeah. That got lost in translation. I didn't write the headline. We'll get it nailed down for next time.

joeloveshawks 8 years, 11 months ago

Jeff Hawkins has no place on a top 5 PG list.

Matthew Stephan 8 years, 11 months ago

KU's starting PG during the Bill Self era: 2004-2005: Aaron Miles, 2006-2008: Russell Robinson, 2009-2010: Sherron Collins, 2011-2012: Tyshawn Taylor, 2013: Elijah Johnson. Although Elijah Johnson started one year at the 2, and would primarily play the 2 off the bench in 2010 and 2011, he still played the 1 for one year. I think Elijah Johnson's 1 year starting at PG was better then like Jeff Hawkins 2 years (under Self) or Selby's 1 bomb year.

Sherron was by far the best PG under Self. Aaron Miles was a dish master. Tyshawn Taylor over Russell Robinson on the fact that he contributed more to a National Championship Runner Up run more then Russell Robinson on a National Championship run.

Most likely after this year, Nadir Tharpe will trump Elijah Johnson as the 5th best PG under Bill Self.

  1. Sherron Collins 2. Aaron Miles 3. Tyshawn Taylor 4. Russell Robinson 5. Elijah Johnson

Joseph Kuebel 8 years, 11 months ago

  1. Sherron Collins 2. Aaron Miles 3. Tyshawn Taylor 4. Russell Robinson 5. Naadir Tharpe --- Tharpe playing versus Michigan gets KU to the elite 8 then the final four, probably back-to-back championship games. EJ blew that game so badly I often wonder if he was on the "take"... Tharpe played great while he was in, no Johnson for his senior year and I feel KU would have been in better position come tournament time. And if your comparing PGs then look no further, as a point guard EJ couldn't get it done. I leave him off this list entirely as a point guard. He did play a pivotal role in 2012 and I won't disagree with this, but as far as watching him play point guard for a full season he needs to be left off this list. Tharpe outperformed EJ last year, and EJs statistics prove this. Get the EJ "binky" out of your mouth, and look objectively, please.

Matthew Stephan 8 years, 11 months ago

I think I can consider throwing Elijah off the PG list and put him on the SG list and put Nadir Tharpe in my top 5 for PG. Clearly, Elijah was playing out of position and should be considered a 2. This does not mean that Jeff Hawkins cracks the top 5.

Benjamin Piehler 8 years, 11 months ago

Dispute his flaws, Sherron will always have a special place in my memory. He had a lot of heart; a shame how it went for him after KU.

Matthew Stephan 8 years, 11 months ago

The SG will be tough. Keith Langford was an amazing scorer. Mario Chalmers was pretty clutch. Ben McLemore was awesome his one year at KU.

lurkerhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

1.Chalmers 2.McLemore 3.Langford 4.Johnson 5.Henry

Chalmer's miracle shot propels him to number 1 on my list. McLemore is the best shooter. Langford is the best slasher. Johnson at 4 because of the 2012 title run. Henry at 5 although felt he could've had a bigger impact had he stayed another year.

Rush and Releford to be considered small forwards.

Joe Baker 8 years, 11 months ago

I would give Collins the lead over Miles, but loved Miles' vision and IQ. I just wished he would've stepped up to the shot moe often. I didn't see enough shooting from deep. This is why Collins wins. He does have a NC too. Miles and Co failed.

Collins - Decision making a bit shaky at times, but his pitbull attitude was the reason for his shooting ability - he made shots when needed. Miles- Leadership and bball IQ is huge. He was too hesitant to step up and take the shot. He yielded a bit too much when he was as capable of nailing shots. RussRob - NC and liked his NY tough play. I also liked his maturity on the court. He didn't take chances, but his D was nasty. RR may be the best defensive of the group. TT - TT had some huge shoes to fill with this group. He just didn't quite match up. However, he showed tremendous up side his senior year. He played in Sherron's shadow too. One of the most athletic and quickest pgs of the group next to RR.

Andrew Horigan 8 years, 11 months ago

The thing is, Miles had a pretty terrible jumper. I think he and Self both knew the best way for us to score was to pass up on some open shots to find someone more open or with a better jumper. That being said I think Miles deserves to be top one or two as a "true point" under Self.

Kevin Huffman 8 years, 11 months ago

That's what I was remembering too. That he shot in the neighborhood of 35% or something.

JayHawkFanToo 8 years, 11 months ago

Miles shooting improved every years and he shot .457 from the field and .500 form the 3 (team's best, only Langford and Giddens had more attempts) his senior year, so you can hardly say he could not shoot. He was un unselfish player as his assist numbers, 7.2 per game, indicate; I can't think of any other guard that averaged more than 5 assists since then.

Scott Smetana 8 years, 11 months ago

I'll be VP of the Tharpe fan club. I think Tait's list is the best. Tharpe was playing as well as any PG we've had the past 10 years in the last part of the season. Did anyone see him shut down Burke? He's quick, has learned defense, has guts, and a shot. I'm betting he climbs to top 3 on the list before he's done.

Joe Baker 8 years, 11 months ago

I think Tharpe played in EJ's shadow way too much. Timing was an issue with Tharpe. This is his year and He along with Ellis needs to lead this team to the Promised Land.

I like Tharpe, but he just never gained full confidence. He'll have this year and next to prove his elite pg ability. I'm all for him shining when he's ready. Otherwise, Selden, Greene or even Mason will be capable of playing pg if necessary.

Kevin Huffman 8 years, 11 months ago

It is his year, but I suspect that '14/''15 will EVEN MORESO be his year with Wiggins gone.

Something I look forward to a lot this year.

I hope Perry has improved his leaping because I think the alley-oops will be there for him if he does have that spring.

Defenses are going to be worried about the driving ability of Selden & Wiggins as well as the long-range shooting of Tharpe, Greene, Frankamp, etc. Could see Wiggins drive & then throw it up for the throw-down or Tharpe fake a 3- and jam the pass in for Perry to throw down.

I suspect IF he's capable of that.....saw the hops & physicality of similarly built Morris brothers increase IMMENSELY from Freshman to Sophomore years, we'll see some nice jams.

Joseph Kuebel 8 years, 11 months ago

This is correct. EJ does not belong on this list- nor does Jeff Hawkins.

JayhawkLaw12 8 years, 11 months ago

Tom Keegan: We never will know whether Kansas fans could have been exposed to quality journalism had the LJW done the right thing and dismissed him after his first column.

Kent Richardson 8 years, 11 months ago

"Quicker than Cool Papa Bell and Cooler than Hot Rod Hundley" is the closest anyone came to Herbert Warren Wind.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 11 months ago

Just a comment,

....if Jo Jo White had played under Bill's system along with the three point shot, as opposed to playing under Ted Owens whose system essentially forced Jo Jo to throw the ball into the center everytime, Jo Jo would have ended up one of the greatest guards in the history of the NCAA.

Ability-wise, none of the guys llisted above, and many were great players, could have carried Jo Jo's tennis shoes.....he was THAT GOOD!!

Ethan Berger 8 years, 11 months ago

How about a list of the top 5 walk-on point guards? Now that would be interesting!

REHawk 8 years, 11 months ago

I'm with Keegan. Refs toss EJ for the low blow and Jayhawks have a better than average chance to hold on to the late lead, with both Ellis and Tharpe holding down the fort, regardless of Michigan's seasonlong history of great comebacks down the stretches.

Chris Shaw 8 years, 11 months ago

When do we get to the Big Men?

Elijah Johnson and Jeff Hawkins make me cringe!

Kevin Huffman 8 years, 11 months ago

Next week's:

2-guard...I can only even think of 5.

Langford, Ty. Reid, Chalmers, B. McLemore & E. Johnson

Probably have to go:

  1. Chalmers
  2. Langford
  3. B. McLemore
  4. E. Johnson
  5. Ty. Reid

Figuring Morningstar would be considered a small "3". I mean sometimes they'd let Reid bring the ball up....wasn't the case for Morningstar.

I guess technically Selby fits the '2". Would we even put him in the top 5 though?!?!? Heck, I'd take Reid over him!!!!

"3" 's then (no, not going further & going to rank them would be - B. Rush, X. Henry, Tr. Releford, Little, Morningstar & Teahan. Am I missing anybody there? Who played the "3" back in those early years for Self on the Miles, Langford & Simien teams? Honestly, can't remember. I guess Giddens, B. Nash, Galindo & M. Downs.

Mike Barnhart 8 years, 11 months ago

I almost have to break it down by season because none of Coach Self's point guards have been four year studs! Sherron's junior season was outstanding and so was Tyshawn's senior year. Aaron started good and got better every year but only played 2 years for Coach Self. Russell started slow but was almost a perfect pure point guard in '07-'08.

Final answer: Sherron Collins 19 points and 5 assist as a junior in 2008-2009.

jaybate 8 years, 11 months ago

I just got an email from Staff Reports, an intern pissed because he didn't get to be included with the Round Mound of Expound (Keegs), Mr. Unaffected (Bedore), A Simple Twist of Taitt, and Live Bait with Jesse Re-Newell.

Staff Reports said, "Shizz, mon, I be a better touch typist, better story teller and better mon than those stroked out, pixel burned wretches! You give me their column inches and I'll get twice their clicks!!!!!"

To wit, here are young Staff Reports top 5 practice point guards .

  1. Tyler Self--Its hard to find nepotism, softness, and an inability to make the entry pass in one player, but TSelf's got it all.

  2. Niko Roberts--Niko does, too.

  3. Chase Buford--no one threw up like that guy. He could hurl a pizza just thinking about running to a scorer's table.

  4. Steve Vinson--the man could really NOT play with the best of them.

  5. Milton Doyle--Milt set the record for shortest KU point guard career. He left having only worn crimson and blue in Europe. He didn't play more games at point guard than any other player. Just the thought of boot camp made him leave.

(Note: All fiction. No malice.)

DCLawHawk 8 years, 11 months ago

I seem to remember Vinson having a great first half of a season when we had a lot of inexperienced guards one year. I think he deserves some credit for that.

Jack Wilson 8 years, 11 months ago

I think the Miles vs. Taylor debate is a real interesting one. Not want many might think.

In Miles' career, he averaged 8.6 points per game and 6.9 assists per game.

In Taylor's career, he averaged 10.35 points per game and 3.6 assists per game. While a true point guard his last two seasons, it was an average of 4.7 assists per game.

For Miles, he thus created an average of 22.4 points per game (with each assist assumed to create two points*)

For Taylor, he created an average of 18.25 points per game. If we used his average assists for his last two seasons, comparing point guard play, he created an average of 19.75 points per game as his apg went up by 1.1.

For Miles, he average 1.9 steals and 3 turnovers per game; Taylor 1.2 steals per game and 2.6 turnovers per game, but 3.1 turnovers per game in his last two seasons as the point guard.

I would have thought Taylor would have had more steals, and a significantly more turnovers per game. Not so. Miles stole it more, but turned it over nearly as much as a point guard.

Taylor led us to the championship game. That's a huge deal. Taylor was a more dynamic player. But that didn't lead to much of a difference -- except the final four run.

Except for that fact, for my money, I'd take Aaron Miles as my point guard over Taylor.

Because we haven't had a pass first point guard in a long time, I think many may forget how good it really is to have one.

*I know some assists led to three pointers, but for comparison, the likelihood of Taylor's assists creating three pointers vs. Miles' would be the same)

Chris Shaw 8 years, 11 months ago

Well said! I love what Taylor did his senior year and despite the love/hate relationship most had with Taylor he had the last laugh, which IMO is the way it should be.

With all that said, I would also take Aaron Miles over Tyshawn Taylor. Look, we all know Self loves his "Combo Guards", but as I've said a couple of times over the last few months....I think the "Combo Guard" trend has come and gone and become quite saturated IMO.

Self was the innovator of the "Combo Guard" thinking back when he was at Illinois and now everybody wants a 6'3/6'4" "Combo Guard".

I think Self's thinking transitioned over to Kansas quite well and worked with Russ Rob and Chalmers. It took longer with Tyshawn Taylor, but ultimately worked and it didn't work (For the one year) with Selby and the 4 years IMO with EJ.

I actually like the fact that Self is bringing in 4 and 5 star SG's and SF's and along with the "Big's" we all know Self develops quite well with 3 and 4 star PG's. I like the fact that Self has Tharpe, Frankamp, and Mason as the PG's in the coming years. They are more traditional PG's, which is great when surrounded by Elite Talent, which is what KU will have in the next few years. IMO, you don't need 5 star Point Guards when you have other great talent around them. I just want smart/heady point guards and Aaron Miles was exactly that.

TommieSmithElbow 8 years, 11 months ago

How about Taylor struggled for 3 years, then achieved glory in one, while Miles played well for 3 years, and was disappointing his senior year.

The Bucknell game just capped a tough, and underachieving, senior year for Miles. (At least when Sherron was off in his senior year, I figured there was at least a CHANCE that the ball would somehow find the hoop.)

Wayne and Michael Lee were the only 2 guys to show up vs. Bucknell (outside of Moody's rebounding), and Wayne came close to pulling out the disaster with his last shot. Will always admire Wayne's effort in trying to put the team on his shoulders in a train wreck of a game.

Jack Wilson 8 years, 11 months ago

Hmmm .. I don't really know what you're talking about there on Miles underachieving his senior year. He pretty much was the same guy.

Miles shot 45.7% from the field, 50% from the 3 point arc, and 78.8% from the line, while dropping 7.2 assists per game. That's accounting for nearly 24 points per game (again, assuming all assists create 2 points). Assist to turnover was over 2:1.

By contrast, in Taylor's senior season he shot 47.7 from the field, 68.8 from the line, and 38.2 from 3.

REHawk 8 years, 11 months ago

I'm still beating a dead horse, but my thinking is that our seniors, esp. Langford and Miles, were worn out by that Bucknell game. Russ Rob was too talented to be benched for his earlier headstrong actions. Bill Self pretty much walks on water, in my humble opinion, but there are some weaknesses which occasionally have cost him in his dealing with personnel. Russell's talent lay fallow much of that freshman year.

Chris Shaw 8 years, 11 months ago

There were a lot of issues with that 2005 team. I mean, Self was still transitioning with the seniors from Roy and Self's first new recruiting class that were all Freshmen.

Langford and Giddens didn't like each other and he was trying to find ways to incorporate his recruiting class of Freshmen.

hawksince51 8 years, 11 months ago

IMHO Tharpe, Hawkins and Elijah on anyone's list shows that PG has not been a Self strong suit especially when you consider that he inherited Miles from Roy. I agree that Tharpe has potential but he has not even started yet, Hawkins was also off the bench as a role player and Elijah's shortcomings as a PG are well documented above. Interesting that the only PG Self has playing in the NBA (Chalmers) did not play the position at KU. But, recruiting and developing PGs was also one of Roy's weaknesses. The best one of his era, Vaughn, was never more than a backup in the NBA.
Like Roy, Self seems to be plagued with coming in 2nd when recruiting for PGs. That Self's only NC came when he had 2 who fully deserve to be on the above list, shows the importance of the PG position in today's college game.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 11 months ago

The center position will be interesting what with Sasha [4 yrs], Markieff [3yrs], Cole [3 yrs] and Jeff [5 yrs] being Bill's only true centers with any impact.

If you are looking for five would Wayne be the logical choice??

My take is that with Jeff's last two years, his defensive presence on the court overshadows Markieff's offensive advantage. yet Sasha and Cole played key roles in winning a National Championship. Jeff, however, was a force to reckon with on his own.

I guess what I am saying is that we wouldn't have lost as many games missing Markieff as we would have had we been missing Jeff these last two seasons.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 11 months ago

PS Just read my own post...does it make any sense??

Mike Barnhart 8 years, 11 months ago


You're right, Roy can't develop point guards.


Adonis Jordan, Jacque Vaughn, Jeff Boschee, Kirk Heinrich, Aaron Miles, Raymond Felton and Ty Lawson

John Fitzgerald 8 years, 11 months ago

My take on all Self's point guards:

  1. Russell Robinson - He was on the National Title team and was literally the heart and soul of the team. He was very unselfish and when they needed a points from him, he made it happen. Great vision on the floor as well, but I think his standout was his defensive ability. I don't think Self has had another point that played defense as good as him. Every other play he was on a breakaway from a steal. His quickness, mental stability, and 4 years of experience made him as strong as any point KU has had.

  2. Aaron Miles - Good defender and an even better distributor. I'd have Russell and Aaron tied for first, but Russell got a title. It may not seem to make much of a difference, but when you look at the greats, what makes them greater is a title. Miles was also one of the most reliable points Self has had. Very few mistakes and very efficient on the turnover side. Best passer out of all the point guards as well.

  3. Sherron Collins - Most people either loved this guy, or loved to hate him. Played with a chip on his shoulder and we either won games because of him, or we fell by the waste side on his silly mistakes. Not the most turnover efficient point Self has had, but when the team needed him, he came through more than any point Self has seen. An example is the OU game, at OU. Granted, it was without Blake Griffin, but he still put on one heck of a show.

  4. Tyshawn Taylor - Another guy that people either loved or hated. One thing I will say about Tyshawn, is he always gave 100%. Like Sherron, he made a lot of mistakes, and wasn't the most turnover efficient point, but when he took over games, he was virtually unstoppable. The fastest point Self has had off the dribble, and could play defense. Also, extremely athletic and could score like a shooting guard.

  5. Naadir Tharpe - Tharpe has a HUGE upside to him, and given full control of the team next year, I think he will make big things happen, especially with Andrew Wiggins and Perry Ellis in the lineup. He has already proven he can take over games and he is turnover efficient, he just needs the in game experience other guards have had. Once he has a few nail bitters under his belt, while he is the starting point, I think he will begin to grow even more and really take advantage of the opportunity that lies ahead of him. If KU wins a title this year, look to move Naadir ahead of Sherron and Tyshawn.

Jack Jones 8 years, 11 months ago

Matt ~ Re criteria > I would hope that your future articles on this topic would be for the "top" (read "best" players at each position during Bill Self's tenure. "Most liked" seems more like a popularity contest rather than a testament as to their athletic ability, and perhaps even more importantly ~ their contributions to the success of the teams on which they played. IMO ~ more in the bailiwick of a sportswriter, rather than a beauty contest judge. Although, certainly not disparaging the fine work of those judges by any means.

DJHOLLA 8 years, 11 months ago

Sherron Collins. No explanation needed. Miles is still up there. Two Final Four appearances and an Elite 8 is nothing to sniff at.

Bryce Landon 8 years, 11 months ago

Keegan, you're a hack. EJ should NOT have been ejected. The Michigan player flopped and made EJ's move look worse than it actually was. Those Skunk Weasels were flopping all game long, and the refs made all kinds of ticky-tack calls all night on us while letting scUM get away with whatever they wanted. If the refs had called that game fairly, the game never would have been close enough for EJ to piss it away at the end.

VaJay 8 years, 11 months ago

Wow. Are you one of those guys that yells at refs at kiddie soccer games? Sour grapes & anger are not a good combo...

texashawk10 8 years, 11 months ago

It's all opinion and who someone puts at number one usually reflects the skill set one values in a PG. I personally prefer a pass first PG, then defense, then scoring so I would go with Miles, Robinson, Taylor, then Collins. I know some will disagree with my choices and that's fine. My list reflects what I value in PG's and not everyone values the same things in a PG.

KCJHawk08 8 years, 11 months ago

Russell apparently has an opinion on the subject. He just posted the following on twitter:

"@Next718star: Love all my bro's but #1 PG in Self era AMiles...can't see how anybody can think different...Lucky I got to play with him! #kubball"

REHawk 8 years, 11 months ago

I'm going with Collins, Miles, Taylor, Russ Rob, Tharpe. Taylor had perhaps the best one semester of any of that group, but Miles gave the Jayhawks 4 solid semesters under Self, even tho the coaching change made for a tough adjustment. The gamble to bring EJ along as a point guard just did not work out. I think that Elijah might have played a steadier senior season if he had the good fortune to have played the 2 guard; but with the emergence of McLemore, that was not to be. Taylor was a train wreck until he settled into focus and got serious his senior year. Miles was steady and reliable. Collins is king.

pizzashuttle 8 years, 11 months ago

Miles, RR, Collins, TT and that's it. TT only made it because of his sr season. Collins made it in spite of his sr season when he was out of shape.

gwenthejayhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

Didn't really realize the lack of talent we have had at PG. The other positions will be much better, but when you start including guys like Jeff Hawkins, and a guy that would have helped beat Michigan if he would have been ejected, you probably haven't had great PGs. Collins and Miles = great; Robinson = good, all others are merely there to get from three to five.

Alan Dickey 8 years, 11 months ago

I could be wrong, but I don't think you guys are getting Keegan's comment: "5. Elijah Johnson: We never will know whether Kansas could have defeated Michigan had the refs done the right thing and ejected him in the opening minutes." I think he's sarcastically saying that EJ was one of the greatest KU PGs in ten years by selflessly ... trying to take himself out of the game by racking an opponent's nuts and letting Tharpe then come in and win the game he could not. Didn't work out, but at least he went to an extreme attempt and tried.

Preston Dwiggins 8 years, 11 months ago

How about we build the best of what we had?

Strength: Collins Quickness: Taylor Mental: Robinson Leaping: Johnson Agility: Taylor Shooting: Collins Passing: Miles

  • My wildcard that possesses a lot of these attributes that is just now taking over as starting PG: Tharpe. I like, no, I LOVE having Tharpe's experience running point this year!

bp1328 8 years, 11 months ago

Worst guard was Johnson.. but the most overrated guard was Aarin Miles. He may has assist records, but if you look at the group he always had around him, anyone would rack up assists.

I think if anyone objectively reviews his performance in each tourney game starting from his first year to his senior year you will see each game he performed miserably

Michael Luby 8 years, 11 months ago

I think Matt Tait is correct. I also believe in Naadir. He will prove himself to be very comparable to Miles after he is done. It is hard to include him on this list though, simply because he hasn't proven himself yet...completely. We've seen glimpses, but not the full show.

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