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Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Examining the case for adding Kansas forward David McCormack’s name and number to the Allen Fieldhouse rafters

Kansas forward David McCormack warms up during practice for the Men's Final Four NCAA basketball tournament on April 1, 2022, in New Orleans.

Kansas forward David McCormack warms up during practice for the Men's Final Four NCAA basketball tournament on April 1, 2022, in New Orleans.

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After narrowly missing out on Most Outstanding Player honors at the Final Four, the question of whether Kansas big man David McCormack’s name belongs in the Allen Fieldhouse rafters anyway has been red-hot of late.

Some say he’s a lock because of his performance in leading Kansas to the 2022 national title. The Norfolk, Virginia native scored 40 points and grabbed 19 rebounds on 63% shooting in wins over Villanova and North Carolina earlier this month in New Orleans.

Others say McCormack, who finished second in the MOP voting to teammate Ochai Agbaji, is worth consideration but is not necessarily a lock. And still more Kansas fans say his overall career was not enough to get his name and jersey into the rafters with the other Kansas greats.

It would be easier to decide McCormack’s fate if the criteria for inclusion were more clearly defined. But recent tweaks that came about around the time of KU coach Bill Self’s arrival opened the door for a number of former players to have their name and number raised to the rafters.

According to KU’s Media Guide, the original criteria for having one’s jersey retired by the program — just the jersey, not the number — was limited to “KU players named college basketball player of the year, most valuable player of the NCAA Tournament or being named a four-time All-American.”

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Kansas forward David McCormack (33) hoists a piece of the net as the Kansas Jayhawks celebrate their 72-69 win over North Carolina in the NCAA National Championship game on Monday, April 4, 2022 at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.

In 1997, Ray Evans was added to the list based on his status as an All-American in both football and basketball. And, in the early 2000s, the criteria was loosened to include consensus first-team All-Americans, two-time first-team All-Americans and Academic All-American of the Year winners.

While most of the recent names who have gone up there have checked at least one of those boxes, there appears to be a per-case analysis of some players, including McCormack.

“That’s something that I want to talk about with my people,” Self said before Sunday’s parade. “I think it goes without saying that David’s jersey deserves to be hung if, in fact, the MOP is always hung. I mean, he didn’t win it in name but he and Och certainly both deserved a piece of it.”

Sunday was not the first time this season that Self discussed the criteria for inclusion in the rafters. He also kicked it around during an episode of his “Hawk Talk” radio show in mid-February. Of course, no one could have known then that McCormack soon would be in the discussion.

“The criteria is the criteria,” Self said then. “But as far as I’m concerned, it’s not etched in stone.”

The topic came up when a caller asked if Self and KU would consider including former KU center Joel Embiid’s name in the rafters if Embiid wins NBA MVP honors this season.

Self called it “a great question,” and noted even joked that the program should probably consider including him so they can hit him up for donations in the future.

“I also think you could consider Wiggs (Andrew Wiggins), you could consider Perry Ellis and I think you could consider Keith Langford,” Self said then. “Keith Langford scored 1,800 points here and never made first-team (all league). Look at his career. If you beat Syracuse (in the 2003 NCAA title game) he’s MVP of the Final Four. Without question that would have gotten him up.”

That brings us back to McCormack. While Self has said in recent years that Thomas Robinson, Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham were all locks to go up — along with Agbaji — no one was even talking about McCormack’s case until the Final Four.

For his career, he averaged 10.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in 21.9 minutes while appearing in 132 games in four seasons with 96 starts. Those are certainly solid numbers, but those numbers alone do not make anyone think of retiring a player’s jersey.

While playing a slightly different role, at a different time, and over three seasons instead of four, future NBA lottery pick Markieff Morris averaged 8.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for KU in an average of 19.3 minutes over 109 appearances and 43 starts. When his brother, Marcus Morris, had his jersey go up a couple of seasons ago, people wondered then if Markieff’s belonged, as well, and the overwhelming answer was no.

Had Markieff turned in a Final Four performance like McCormack, however, that could have changed things. And that’s why we’re in the position we’re in today with Big Dave.

One other important aspect to consider is the fact that, while the jersey retirements by themselves mean something to KU fans, they mean something entirely different in the recruiting world and for the future of the program.

In case the tradition and mystique surrounding Allen Fieldhouse isn’t enough to wow them on their visits, looking up and seeing modern-day names in the rafters like Embiid, an MVP candidate and one of the 10 greatest players in the world today, and Wiggins, an All-Star and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft, can do a lot for KU’s pursuit of the stars of tomorrow.

So it may be worth it to put up those high-profile names even if their KU careers didn’t quite make them deserving.

So, given what recently transpired in New Orleans, don’t be surprised if the McCormack 33 banner ends up making its way up to the rafters eventually.

It makes a little more sense to sell national champion David McCormack to recruits than career 52% shooter McCormack. Whether they loved him before or were luke warm on him at best, KU fans forever will remember McCormack as a huge part of KU’s fourth NCAA title team.

Comments

Eric Dawson 1 month, 1 week ago

Matt, I don't think you did David's case justice. And I don't think guys that do great things in the NBA but did not do such things at KU should be in the Rafters.

Re: the criteria not being hard & fast, note that there are 8 jerseys there for players that did not meet any of the criteria when they were honored: Kirk Hinrich's #10, Walt Wesley's #13, Darnell Valentine's #14, Jo Jo White & Bud Stallworth's #15, Brandon Rush's #25, Bill Bridges' #32 and Dave Robisch's #40. 2x Big 8 POY Robisch is now covered by Self's addition of Conference POY, but not when honored.

You reported in an earlier article, but not here, about the MOP voting fiasco. 1st, the process had been changed, to included more voters. 2nd, a new app was being used to facilitate the process, but little was done to show the voters how to use it? 3rd, selections had to be in by 2 minutes left in the game.No one got to factor David's heroics in the last 1:30 -- OReb & score over both Bacot & Manek for the lead, then scoring over Manek for the final margin -- into their voting. & IIRC he only lost by 5 votes.

You noted the 40 pts (63% FGA) & 19 REB over the two games, the best totals over both games for any Jayhawk. You did not mention that when DAVE was in, KU outscored the foe by 41 points over both games. When DAVE was out, KU was outscored by 22. No one else on KU came close. Dajuan was +23/-4 & JWil +22/-3. Ochai was +18/+1. The foe ran through KU when Dave was out, especially Bacot. All the first 6 players made critical and important plays, but no one came close to the impact DAVE had for KU. Add in that DAVE played the last 17 minutes of the game with 3 fouls (as you pointed out in elsewhere), that makes his performance even more impressive.

Bottom line is that DAVE had the performance but Ochai, despite his off performance in the title game, had the AA and Villanova eyewash, so DAVE got the short end of the stick on the MOP vote without voters having the benefit of his heroics in the last two minutes. Run right, I have no doubt we would not be having this conversation because DAVE would have been named the MOP. Ochai has said he should have been. Coach Self has gone so far as to say DAVE at least deserves a piece of it.

BOTTOM LINE: The MOP criteria was one of the original criteria. It is not for a career, it is for performance at the highest level in the last two games played that year, the National Semifinal and Final, and with rare exception (e.g., B.H. Born, KANSAS 1952 and Wilt Chamberlain, KANSAS 1957) has gone to a member of the Championship team. If the MOP voting had not been bungled this NCAAT, DAVE would have been named MOP and we would not be having this discussion. As it was, it was bungled, but it is clear to the discerning eye -- and most importantly to Coach Self, who gave the cut down net to Dave after the MOP was announced in recognition of his efforts -- that DAVE should have been the MOP. He is worthy. HONOR HIS JERSEY!

Bryce Landon 1 month, 1 week ago

I have lost track of who all has had their jerseys retired in Allen Fieldhouse.

Eric Dawson 1 month, 1 week ago

Speaking of jerseys deserving to be in the Rafters --

Early KU players (all are NCAA recognized Consensus AAs) Tommy Johnson, forward, 1909 Ralph Sproull, forward, 1915 Dutch Lonborg, guard 1919

Why aren't they up there?

Lawrence native Tommy Johnson, the first truly great hoops and football hero in KU history, is called "the original KU Legend" by KU historians. kuhistory.ku.edu/articles/touchdowns-and-tragedy

Ralph "Lefty" Sproull, another Lawrence native, was the first big time scorer for KU. He led the Missouri Valley Conference in scoring for 3 straight years, and held the records for career points (839) and points in a game (40) until "Cumulus" Clyde Lovellette came along to shatter them in the 1950s.

Arthur C. "Dutch" Lonborg of Horton, Kansas was a 3 sport star at KU, twice all conference in hoops and All American in 1919. The guy is already in the Naismith HOF (as a coach) and the KU Athletics Hall of Fame. Get him in the rafters to recognize his playing career!

What's the hold up, KU? Just because these guys have been dead for decades doesn't mean they don't deserve to be up there. If I was a descendant of one of these guys, I'd be thrilled to stand in for grampa or great-grampa when their jerseys were placed In The Rafters! Make a big thing of it and have all three honored at the same time, or go the three separate ceremonies route, but do it and soon!

Come on, KU, it's long overdue! Get 'er done!

Rock Chalk!

Eric Dawson 1 month, 1 week ago

Bryce Landon, Reply issue so I answer you here. This is copy & paste, no idea what the formatting will look like. To see it properly go to http://www.rockchalk.com/index.php/forum/basketball/4321-afh-rafters-criteria-names-2020-12-10

Note well: players honored who did not meet the established criteria are cited as Honored based on their Kansas Career (KC). As more criteria were included, existing honorees who met the new criteria have had that basis added to their Honors justification.

PLAYER POS YEARS HONORED BASED ON

0 Drew Gooden F 2000–02 2002 NABC NPOY; Consensus 1st team AA 4 Nick Collison F 2000–03 2003 NABC NPOY; Consensus 1st team AA; Big 12 POY Sherron Collins^ G 2006–10 2010 Consensus 1st team AA; Big 12 POY 5 Fred Pralle G 1936–38 1938 Consensus 1st team AA Howard Engleman F 1939–41 1941 Consensus 1st team AA 7 Tusten Ackerman† C 1923–25 1924, 1925 Helms Foundation AA (1) 8 Charlie T. Black† G 1922–24 1924 Helms Foundation NPOY; 1924,1925 Helms AA (1) 10 Charles B. Black F 1942–43, 46–47 1943 & 1946 Consensus 1st team AA (AA 1942/43/46/47) Kirk Hinrich G 2000–03 KC (2002,03 3rdTmAA TSN, USBWA; 2003 3rdTmAA AP) 11 Jacque Vaughn G 1994–97 1996 Big 8 POY; initially 1997 GTE Academic AAotYear 12 Paul Endacott† G 1921–23 1923 Helms NPOY; 1922, 1923 Helms AA (1) 13 Wilt Chamberlain C 1957–58 1957 FF MOP; 1957, 1958 Consensus 1st team AA Walt Wesley C 1964-66 KC (1966 Consensus 2nd Tm AA) 14 Darnell Valentine G 1978–81 KC (1981 AP 2nd Tm AA) 15 Ray Evans G 1942–43, 46–47 1942,1943 Helms 1st TM AA(2) Jo Jo White G 1966–69 KC (1968, 69 Consensus 2nd Tm AA) Bud Stallworth F 1970–72 KC; Big8 POY 1972 (1968,69 Cons. 2ndTmAA) Mario Chalmers^ G 2006–08 2008 FF MOP 16 Clyde Lovellette‡ C 1950–52 1952 FF MOP, Helms POY; 1951,52 Cons.1st Tm AA (3) 22 Marcus Morris F 2008–11 2011 Big 12 POY 23 B.H. Born‡ C 1952–54 1952 FF MOP Wayne Simien F 2002–05 2005 Consensus 1st Tm AA, Big 12 POY 25 Danny Manning# F 1985–88 1988 NPOY/FFMOP;1987,88 ConS.1stTmAA;3xB8POY/Decade Brandon Rush^ F 2005–08 KC (2008 3rdTmNABC AA & Big12T MVP; 3x1stTm All B12) 26 Gale Gordon G 1925–27 1926 Helms Foundation AA(1) 32 Bill Bridges F 1959–61 KC (3x all Big 8; 1961 AP Honorable Mention AA) 34 Paul Pierce F 1995–98 1998 Consensus 1st Tm AA; 1997, 98 - Big12T MVP 36 Al Peterson C 1925–27 1926 Helms Consensus AA(1); 3x 1st Tm All MVC 40 Dave Robisch F 1969–71 KC; 1970,71 B8POY (1971 2ndTmAPAA; 3rdTmAA NABC,UPI) 45 Raef LaFrentz F 1994–98 1997,98 Consensus 1st Tm AA & B12POY
Cole Aldrich^ C 2007–10 2009 Academic AAotY (2010 Consensus 2nd Tm AA) 60 Max Falkenstien Announcer 1945–2006 60 years as The Voice of the Jayhawks

FURTHER NOTES DELETED TO MEET CHARACTER LIMIT

Lee Short 1 month, 1 week ago

This conversation gets complicated fast. Really fast. So many "what-ifs"

Joel Embiid, arguably, was just as good, if not better than Wiggs in college. It was amazing Joel was the number 3 draftee into the NBA based on his college performance, in spite of being injury-prone even then! He was slated go no. 1 until his last injury. (He then sat for two years in the NBA due to his injury.) Without the injury blow-up against Stanford, there again, KU might have won another natty.

But for covid, Azubuike would have probably been on the team that may have won the NCAAM tourney. He was on a terror. What an a nightmare around the basket No wonder he got into the NBA based on his college performance. Last I checked David, based on his college performance and potential, was not on a single draft board I could find.

Re the MOP discussion, curious. I am guessing a lot of names in this article are players who won the regional MOP award, as did Remy Martin. Those MOPs awards are based on twice as many games (4) as the 2 games in the final 4 four leg. Does anyone have any idea how many regional MOPs KU has had over the years?

Eric Dawson 1 month, 1 week ago

Posting an error correction as I can no longer edit my original comment above --

I made a typo in my first post in regards to "B.H. Born, KANSAS 1952"

Born was NCAAT MOP in 1953, when Phog lost for a second time to Branch McCracken's Indiana Hoosiers. (First time was in 1940).

1952 was of course, the year Phog and Clyde Lovellette won it all for KU's first NCAAT title.

Eric Dawson 1 month, 1 week ago

FIRST AN ADMIN Q: Is anyone else not getting any response at all when trying to REPLY to a commenter? That is, is it a "my computer" problem or a "site" problem? I've tried clicking REPLY on three different devices (Windows and Apple) and get no response when I do.

Lee Short, I'm sure someone in the Sports Information office could find out about Regional MOP honors that were awarded to KU players.

Remember that Jerseys in the Rafters is a relatively new thing, started when Roy was here. The first group went up just before the 1992-93 season (Clyde Lovellette, Danny Manning, B.H. Born, Charlie T. Black, Paul Endacott, Wilt Chamberlain and Charlie B. Black). Charlie T. Black had died 4 years earlier in 1988, making him the first posthumous honoree. As you may recall Chamberlain's jersey was not officially retired and raised to the rafters until they could work out getting him back to KU (a prospect he somewhat dreaded, as he felt he had let KU and its fans down in the 1957 NCAA title game) to retire it on January 17, 1998.

My impression (someone with knowledge -- not opinion, please, but knowledge -- please correct me if I am off target here) is that they included the Final Four MOP because that person usually would be the key player in bringing an NC to KU. B.H. Born in 1953 and Wilt in 1957 were obvious exceptions. And frankly, if not for his NCAAT FF MOP, I'm not sure Born would be up there. He was excellent his junior and senior years, averaging 19 points and over 10 rebounds a game (he was a sophomore when Clyde was a senior, so saw little playing time as a soph, although he was in 26 games that year). But the only honors he ever received were for that 1953 NCAAT his junior year (All Tournament, All Region and FF MOP). No AA, no National or Conference POY, nothing else to serve as a discriminator. But he was the guy for that NCAAT, and KU wanted to honor him, so I think NCAAT FF MOP became one of the "guaranteed" criteria because of him. I am speculating, I could be wrong.

I will be surprised -- and a bit unhappy -- if DAVE ends up not being up there because of what amounts to bureaucratic incompetence re: the MOP voting.

Matt Tait 1 month, 1 week ago

Hey Eric - We're aware of the reply issue and the tech guys are looking into it. We hope to have it fixed very soon. You're definitely not alone in experiencing the issue or missing the "Reply" function.

Appreciate your input on the article and McCormack's case. It's cool to see the rafters conversation means so much to you. I don't think you're alone there either.

Eric Dawson 1 month, 1 week ago

Appreciate the info and the comments, Matt! Thank you!

Lance Hobson 1 month, 1 week ago

I’m still at a loss as to why David or Remy weren’t the MOP. Agbaji did not have a great title game and those two saved us. Add Remy’s win in the regional and it’s a logical choice. But David was so incredibly clutch and crucial I would totally understand him winning.

Lance Hobson 1 month, 1 week ago

Wiggins jersey would be a joke. He was and still is way overrated. As for the Morris twins, I’m far from over the VCU loss in 2011. We could have easily won the title that year if we got to the Final 4 but choked big time in that game.

Dirk Medema 1 month, 1 week ago

It seems that another award was given, Big12 Academic POTY was given to David. Might be another reason to recognize him.

Jonathan Allison 1 month, 1 week ago

I love McCormack. He should have been Final Four MOP. But I'm afraid that the jersey retirement honor may be getting a little bit too watered down.

All of the arguments made here are fair arguments. And if voters had to make their decision before the final 2 minutes of the game were played then that's messed up for a few reasons.

The thing is... There is only so much room in the rafters at Allen Fieldhouse, and then what? We have to move to a new arena? We add more rafters? We start taking names down?

It sounds like a silly question, but what do we do when there's no more room in the rafters?

Dirk Medema 1 month, 1 week ago

Jonathan - The answer to the rafter space question is found at grocery stores across the country; shrink the size of the banners 😉

Tim Orel 1 month, 1 week ago

I miss the pre-NCAA tourney format of the site, where there were lots of links to various articles. I am not fond of the mobile version of the site coming up on my home computer with the big screen. Not everyone reads the site on their phone. Sure, having links to articles that are four or more years old (there are people who have had their cases adjudicated, have served their time and moved on and yet they're still with their pictures on the site as if they were just arrested) and having recruiting articles 2-3 years old gets tiresome to wade through, but I still prefer the old site format.

Rodney Crain 1 month, 1 week ago

Matt you might need to fix/replace your tech people, unless you do not pay them than that would make sense. :)

Jeff Kallmeyer 1 month, 1 week ago

I'm sorry, I really like DMac & he had a hell of a FF, but I can think of at least 10 past players who are more deserving. And Joel is not one of them, this is about one's college career. I agree w/ Jonathan's comment about the rafter criteria gettin too watered down.

Rodney Crain 1 month, 1 week ago

DMac statistically alone is not banner worthy. Great teammate, did well in the post season in some games too. In half of his 2022 post season he did not score in double digits. Yes he was hurt, but you can not factor in what he might have done.

His overall stats increased year by year, but taken as a whole, he did not do enough to get a banner. OA no issues.

He did deserve to be the MOP of the final four. He was a key factor in winning the last game, and his 25 points two nights before against a smaller Villanova team was impressive.

Tamara Khiatani 1 month, 1 week ago

I've never been a huge fan of Dave and I'm not really in favor of bending the rules to retire a jersey. BUT, he was straight up robbed of the MOP, and the MOP gets his jersey retired. The dumb voting process cost Dave the MOP, apparently. Self realized that right away. So I'm in favor of it in this case. It's obvious that Self feels strongly about it.

John Sheppard 1 month, 1 week ago

I think David's name should be there not only because of what he accomplished on the basketball court, but what he has accomplished in the classroom. Just as important. Especially both at the same time.

Eric Bernauer 1 month, 1 week ago

I see one of the criteria is being a 4-time All American. Might as well toss that criteria out in this day and age. I can't see that we will ever have a freshman make the All American team and stick around 4 years. I would guess at most, two years and then then siren song of riches will be enticing.

Brad Watson 1 month, 1 week ago

I like Big Dave....but he is not a superstar...not an All American...he will be remembered any way as being an important part of this team...but so will Remy...who in my opinion is the reason we won it...not Dave....Dave hasn't reached his potential yet....NBA GM's....he is your sleeper gem!!!...because in about 2 -3 years ...when he does reach his potential....look out!!!

Shannon Gustafson 1 month, 1 week ago

Tim Orel, down at the very bottom of the page should be a "View Desktop Site" link that gets your laptop back to the non-mobile version. How you got there in the first place isn't related to the "new" site, it's that you likely followed a link to the mobile version and now the site thinks that's the style you want to view. Clicking the "View Desktop" link fixes is. If there is no link at the bottom (there used to be), then try simply deleting the "m." in the site URL (www.m.kusports.com changes to www.kusports.com).

Benjamin Shear 1 month, 1 week ago

My vote is no. I don't get a vote and no one asked. A no vote takes nothing away from his career or his impact. I just think we need to keep that bar very high. This is KU. We don't need to give out participation trophies to everyone. Hanging a jersey means that player was one of the all-time legends to play at the university. Anyone who is on a championship team is a legend, but I don't think the case can be made that DMac is an all-time KU legend. If he is, then we need to hang Braun and Remy's jersey as well.

Lance Hobson 1 month, 1 week ago

OMG lack of banner space is a reason to exclude someone? Not your problem. David won us a NATIONAL TITLE! There should be no debate.

Gary Wirsig 1 month, 1 week ago

Shannon, thank you for the info on "desktop site"!

Bj Cassady 1 month ago

I do not think anyone mentioned his grades. He has been an outstanding student a model student athletic. If for no other reason, he should be in the rafters for being a student athletic par excellent. This is what college is supposed to be about but seldom is.

Brad Watson 1 month ago

Remy in the rafters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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