Tuesday, December 31, 2019

KU Men’s Basketball - All-Decade Team

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) and Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) help up Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) after Graham hit a three during the second half, Thursday, March 23, 2017 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) and Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) help up Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) after Graham hit a three during the second half, Thursday, March 23, 2017 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.


Kansas basketball coach Bill Self gets 13 scholarships per season to fill out his roster.

So today, as we look back on the last 10 years of Kansas basketball under Self, it only makes sense that we put together an all-decade team that features 13 players — five starters and eight on the bench.

There are a dozen different ways to put this all-decade team together, but, for this one, we’re going to include the best players who also delivered some of the biggest moments.

Whether that was while at Kansas, in the NBA Draft after leaving school or both, the following list of 13 former Jayhawks is packed with players who achieved some major accomplishments both as individuals and with their teams.

The only requirement for this all-decade squad is that the players on it had to play at least half of their KU careers from 2010 through 2019.

With that in mind, and knowing that this list will be missing someone and be picked apart by those who read it, here are my picks for KU’s latest all-decade team.


Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4), back, wait for a pair of free throws during the first half, Saturday, March 4, 2017 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Starting Five

PG – Frank Mason III – The four-year standout from Petersburg, Va., finished his KU career with one of the best all-around seasons by a guard in Kansas basketball history. He was rewarded by sweeping all of the major national player of the year awards and left KU as the sixth leading scorer in school history with 1,885 career points.

SG – Devonte’ Graham – Playing Robin to Mason’s Batman throughout the first three years of his career, Graham proved during his senior season that he was more than just a stellar sidekick. After taking over point guard duties following Mason’s departure, Graham led the Jayhawks to the 2018 Final Four, the record-breaking 14th consecutive Big 12 Conference title and earned conference player of the year and first-team All-American honors in the process. Graham ranks 13th on KU’s all-time scoring list and second on KU’s all-time 3-point makes list with 296 triples.

3G – Josh Jackson – KU’s most recent one-and-done player makes the starting five because of his versatility and incredible talent. Had he been forced to stay at KU for four seasons, his name would have been in the Top 5 on all kinds of KU’s all-time lists. As it was, Jackson earned Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors and also became a lottery pick after helping lead the Jayhawks to a 31-5 season (16-2 in Big 12 play) and the Elite Eight in March.

PF – Thomas Robinson – He was not the most skilled player on this list, but no one played harder. Whether it was finding a way to score or getting every rebound on both ends of the floor, Robinson’s junior season remains one of the most impressive by an individual in the Self era. In addition to earning All-American honors that season, Robinson’s school record of 27 double-doubles helped lead KU to the 2012 national title game before going on to be the fifth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.


Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor laughs between teammates Thomas Robinson, front, and Jeff Withey after it was brought to his attention by a media member that he is yet to make a three-pointer in the NCAA tournament when playing in a dome, Saturday, March 24, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

C – Jeff Withey – After a slow start, Withey’s run at KU was remarkable. Not only was he a key part of the 2012 runner-up team and the 31-6 team that followed it, but he also was as good a defensive player as there was in the country and his offensive game grew throughout his time at Kansas. His fit on that 2012 team, alongside Robinson, was pure perfection, and he showed that by setting an NCAA Tournament record with 31 blocks in six games that tournament.


Tyshawn Taylor – One of KU’s quickest point guards with the ball in his hands, Taylor was the perfect Self point guard. His ability to score in the paint, get guys in the right spots and score however necessary played a huge role in leading KU to the 2012 title game. The loud personality from Hoboken, N.J., started 126 games during his four-year career and played a huge role in creating the kind of swagger KU played with from 2008-12.


Kansas senior forward Perry Ellis takes some warm-up shots before the Jayhawks' Jan. 30, 2016, game against Kentucky, at Allen Fieldhouse.

Perry Ellis – A high-impact player from his freshman season on, the four-time Kansas high school player of the year lived up to the hype during a solid KU career. Ellis finished his KU career with 1,798 points, which ranks him ninth on KU’s all-time scoring list, and 834 rebounds, good for 12th all-time.

Marcus Morris – The better scorer of the Morris twins earned Big 12 Player of the Year honors following the 2010-11 season after leading KU in scoring with a 17.2 points-per-game average. His 1,371 career points over three seasons rank 29th on KU’s all-time list and he was a second team AP All-American and member of the John R. Wooden Award’s 10-member All-American team in 2011.

Ben McLemore – He played just one season at Kansas but had a monster impact while he was here, leading the Jayhawks in scoring at 15.9 points per game before going on to become the No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. The St. Louis native was a first team all-Big 12 selection after the 2012-13 season and also a consensus second team All-American.


Kansas player Joel Embiid, right, and Andrew Wiggins try to tie up Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown during the second half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Joel Embiid – As the only KU player on record to have a story about killing a lion (true or otherwise), Embiid makes the list. It just so happens that he also was arguably the top individual talent to come through KU during the past decade and went on to become the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Andrew Wiggins – The bar was so high for Wiggins coming in that it was almost impossible for him to live up to it. Still, he came close. During his lone season of college basketball the eventual-No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft led the Jayhawks in scoring at 17.1 points per game and also was the team’s top defensive stopper.

Svi Mykhailiuk – The argument for Mykhailiuk to be on this list includes the fact that he was a 1,000-point scorer and helped lead KU to the 2018 Final Four. But it was his huge 3-pointer against Duke in the 2018 Elite Eight in Omaha that cemented his place on this list. Was there a bigger bucket at Kansas during the past decade?


Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) puts up a three to force overtime with seconds remaining in regulation, Sunday, March 25, 2018 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

Udoka Azubuike – The injuries have overshadowed — and limited — his overall career and numbers. But KU did not have a player this decade who provided the Jayhawks with a bigger advantaged and created more problems for opponents. Beyond that, the big fella did play a big role in helping KU get to San Antonio in 2018 and he’s closing in on shattering KU’s career field goal percentage record.


Pius Waldman 2 years, 11 months ago

Your explanation for Udoka to make this list might be logical but in my opinion he is highly over rated. If no one guards him he can dunk but thats it. Lets hope as the season goes on he can be a better contributor.

Kit Duncan 2 years, 11 months ago

One on one, Udoka is unstoppable. Double teamed, he still scores. Stanford shut him down by triple teaming him, which guaranteed at least one KU player was going to be wide open for an outside shot. Jerod Haase essentially dared Kansas to shoot threes. And they did!

Dan Philipps 2 years, 11 months ago

Matt - Nice work getting something out there we can all debate on! This is not a bad list, but I think you have a typo .... Jeff Withey starting over Joel Embiid? Are you kidding me?

Azubuike should not be able to sniff the All-Decade team. I would rather have Tarik Black over him in a heart beat.

I really liked Thomas Robinson, but the Morris twins would run circles around him every day of the week .. Just look at what happened in the NBA.

Kelly Oubre' has been playing well in the league lately ... But I don't think he should be up here quite yet.

You could definitely argue Wiggins over Jackson for the starting role, but in my opinion, both players have a case for that spot.

Dane Pratt 2 years, 11 months ago

If I can have any of these guys for just one season I'd take Embiid over Withey but if I'm handing out scholarships I'll take four years of Jeff over one year of Joel.

Robert Brown 2 years, 11 months ago

I tried to predict the team before reading and I matched four of the starters. I had Perry Ellis instead of Josh Jackson. I imagine we are looking at players who had the most impact while at KU and not take into account what happened in a player’s professional career. I am surprised at how many one and done players were on the roster. Jackson was most impactful in my view. Wiggins and Embiid have become great NBA players and played at KU the same year which was probably the most disappoining year in the decade except for last year.

Andy Tweedy 2 years, 11 months ago

I think not having Perry top and center is criminal!

Dane Pratt 2 years, 11 months ago

Matt gets to make the rules for his own list but if it was my list, not sure I could include any of the OAD’s. In terms of their total contribution to KU basketball, with the exception of McLemore they were all a bit underwhelming when it mattered most.

Brett McCabe 2 years, 11 months ago

Embiid quit on his team and Wiggins disappeared. Neither one should be on this list.

Joe Ross 2 years, 11 months ago

Maybe I’m a killjoy.

The decade ends in 2020. Not 2019.

Brian Mellor 2 years, 11 months ago

You're saying the decade that will be known as The Twenties doesn't include 20 and includes 30?

Dale Rogers 2 years, 11 months ago

Joe is correct. The first year was 1, not 0. So ten years is one through 10. 2011 through 2020.

Brian Mellor 2 years, 11 months ago

True, there Was no year 0. Incidentally, nor was there a year 1. Nor, actually, year 2 through year 1581 as well. All of that was retroactively labeled, never called those numbers during their actual chronological period and all of this is, thus, utterly meaningless for anything other than useless pedantry.

So, again, you're saying that the decade that will be known as 'The Twenties' should not include 20, and should include 30?

Joe Ross 2 years, 11 months ago

There WAS a year 1.

The first year on the current calendar was 1 Anno Domini (the year of our Lord). Now if you count, the first decade ended at the conclusion of year 10.

There was no year "0".

This means that all decades NOT arbitrarily chosen to represent a random period of time (like 2015 to 2024) and based on ten-year time span end on the zero year rather than beginning with them.

The answer to your question is this:

The "20s" will be a ten-year period which is arbitrarily chosen because they are preceded with "twenty (something)", but it's NOT a proper decade based off a calendar calculation of when the decades really begin and end.

The decade we're in won't end until immediately after December 31st, 2020 11:59:59.

True story.

The fact that most people don't know this means the isolation of "decades" from 0-9 stems from (what is truly and uninsultingly) ignorance rather than any intentional arbitrary indexing of time.

Don't shoot the messenger.

Dane Pratt 2 years, 11 months ago

If we divide up the years since humans started using a calendar and designate each ten years as a decade then you would be correct. But I believe the purpose of a calendar is to designate time in days, months and years only and a decade is simply a period of ten years that can be used arbitrarily to mark any ten year period. If that’s the case I prefer to designate the decade of the twenty’s beginning in 2020 and ending in 2029.

Didn’t we just have this discussion a couple of months ago? Was looking for it but could not find it.

Joe Ross 2 years, 11 months ago

Don't disagree totally.

My only point is that the indexing of time from 0-9 stems more from ignorance than an intentional indexing of time where a "decade" is arbitrarily chosen, which is why is lies cross with a true calendar calculation.

Armen Kurdian 2 years, 11 months ago

Although any grouping of 10 years can be considered a decade, it is a statement of mathematical fact that consecutive decades begin on a year ending with a '1', not a '0'. There was never a year '0' in the Gregorian calendar. Therefore the current ten year period if considered as a consecutive continuum began on January 1, 2011, and will end December 31, 2020.

I know the proletariat doesn't care about this, but my statement is incontrovertible.

Barry Weiss 2 years, 11 months ago

no way. he was good, but not good enough to be in this group.

Bryce Landon 2 years, 11 months ago

How does Malik Newman not have a place on the bench? He more than anyone else is responsible for sending us to the 2018 Final Four, especially the way he played in overtime of the 2018 Elite Eight game.

Joe Ross 2 years, 11 months ago

Body of work.

Go root for your Iowa team. Youll be happy they're in the rankings!

I bet you're ecstatic.

Tony Bandle 2 years, 11 months ago

Matt, not that I want to make more work for you but it would be interesting to match up the KU All Decade Teams, you know, let's say 1960 to 1969, 1970 to 1979, etc., through to 2000 to 2009 and include this 2010 to 2019 team.

That 1980 to 1989 Decade team would be pretty damn good for example. So would 1950 to 1959. Thanks for a fun article to start the new year.

P.S. Maybe you could put together two All Century teams, 1900 to 1999 and 2000 to today!! [Any team with Wilt on it would be hard to beat.] Come to think of it, the current consensus best All Time Starting Five KU team is consisted of players from 1950 to 1988 [Wilt, Clyde, Jo Jo and Danny with Mario being the only exception.

Matt Tait 2 years, 11 months ago

Interesting... Summer project?!?!? Glad you enjoyed debating these teams/players. Fun stuff!

Kit Duncan 2 years, 11 months ago

As a one & done, Wiggins had a slightly better season than Josh Jackson. His final game in a KU uniform however, left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. If anything, as talented as Wiggins was, had he just been a little less passive, he could have had a terrific season.

Absent his injuries, had Joel Embiid been able to play in the NCAA tournament, things might have been quite different. If so, Joel would have deserved consideration for the starting center. Withey is definitely deserving, but he would have more difficulty playing with today's rules. He was often allowed to redirect attacking players with a hand on their hip before blocking their shots. That would be a foul today.

Armen Kurdian 2 years, 11 months ago

Matt & the LJW staff: I know you're not the only paper or media outlet in the country that does this, but you have to know the decade is not over, there is one year left. It's not an opinion or an arguable viewpoint, it is mathematical fact, defined by the Gregorian calendar and year assignment.

If you want to talk last ten years, that's fine. But your decade definition is off by a year.

Dane Pratt 2 years, 11 months ago

No, it's a good discussion. You're smarter for having read it.

Nick Kramer 2 years, 11 months ago

Although he was less than a defensive stopper and he only played one year, hard to ignore Dedric Lawson's 19 ppg and 10 rpg. No other player put up this combination in the last decade. He deserves at least a bench spot.

Jeff Kallmeyer 2 years, 11 months ago

Wiggins gets my vote as the most under-achieving player of the decade. When you compare him to Josh Jackson, it was quite evident Wiggins only gave a 70% effort; most likely because he wanted to prevent injury.

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