Mario Chalmers, who thrived at the off guard position, and Julian Wright, who held his own as an undersized power forward last season, expanded their games earlier this month serving as camp counselors at the Adidas Super 64 and Nike camps.
The 6-foot-1 Chalmers played point guard during Adidas scrimmages in Atlanta against other college standouts, while the 6-8 Wright played small forward at Nike pickup games in Indianapolis.
"It's good to get out of your comfort zone," said Wright, who was joined at Nike by Malik Hairston (Oregon), Al Thornton (Florida State), J.R. Reynolds (Virginia), Glen "Big Baby" Davis (LSU), Al Horford (Florida) and Roy Hibbard (Georgetown), among others.
"I'm used to the post and Mario the off guard at the end of the year. It's good to get out of Lawrence for a week and go to camps and do some things we're not used to doing because we'll be doing different things this year."
Chalmers competed with, and against, the likes of Curtis Jerrells (Baylor), Gary Forbes (UMass), Terrence Williams (Louisville), Marcus Williams (Arizona) and Antonio Anderson (Memphis), as well as KU's Brandon Rush, who, as he did at KU, played on the perimeter at Adidas.
"Just because it's what I'm going to play at the next level," Chalmers said of the reason he played lead guard. "NBA scouts were watching us, and everybody was trying to get better.
"I felt comfortable there. I think coach (Bill Self) is going to go back and forth with me, Russell (Robinson) and Sherron (Collins at point). I think it'll be Russell, mainly."
Self confirmed he has plans for Chalmers to play both guard positions, which he hopes ultimately will be interchangeable.
Self also plans to use Wright inside and out and should be happy to learn Wright feels he has improved on the perimeter.
"I did a lot of ball-handling, gaining confidence in terms of going to the hoop and getting my shot off much quicker and jumping higher," Wright said. "(Jumping) higher gives you a better chance to get good lift for the shot. It's what I focused on : jumping more and extending."
Wright is downright enthused over his improvement.
"When I played perimeter in the summer last year, I was out there with energy. Now I've gained more skill and confidence from playing against that type of competition and working out," he said.
Chalmers said he also had gained confidence heading into his sophomore season.
"It was a great opportunity to work out and be evaluated against other people," Chalmers said. "Everybody had their good nights and bad nights, but everybody did the best they could to rebound and score."
Chalmers said he learned equally from pickup games on KU's campus as well as the Adidas camp experience
At both camps, organizers had the college players take part in drills used at NBA practices.
"They were more detailed," Wright said. "You'd do the things that pros do to get a shot off and get to the lane, defensive strategies not used in college. There were a lot of NBA representatives there. We did work similar to those guys."
Wright says he's in no rush to jump to the NBA and plans to return to KU for a third season. Chalmers says the issue hasn't crossed his mind.
"Right now, I'm just concentrating on this season, trying to win a national championship. It's the only thing on my mind now," Chalmers said.
"I've learned I can get my (communications degree) in three years. That's a big factor in me wanting to come back three years," Wright said. "I'm grateful, happy people project me to go next year, but I have a lot of work to get done before I leave. My goal is to graduate in three years. There's no reason for me to go out."
ESPN.com has seven KU players and two former Jayhawks listed in its top 100 prospects for the 2007 NBA Draft: They are: Wright No. 8, followed by Chalmers (26), Rush (27), C.J. Giles (40), Sasha Kaun (61), Sherron Collins (69), Darrell Arthur (80), J.R. Giddens (86) and David Padgett (93). Just 60 picks encompass the draft.
¢KU-Duke rumors: A rumor is floating that KU will meet Duke in the first game in the new Sprint Center in November of 2007 in Kansas City, Mo. The rumor suggests it'll be the first game of a four-year series between the powerhouses.
Asked about the rumor, KU senior associate athletic director Larry Keating said nothing was imminent between the schools.
"In the last two years, Duke has been one of 10 to 12 big schools we've talked to about playing (home-and-home) - Duke, Arizona, Indiana, Notre Dame, Michigan State : other big ones. It's not even close to happening," Keating said.
He indicated four-year deals are unusual.
"Schools don't normally do that," he said, adding that it was believed the first game in the Sprint Center could be a Guardians Classic contest in November of 2007. With an invitation to the Preseason NIT, KU can't play in the Guardians Classic that year.
¢Rose vs. Mayo: Derrick Rose and O.J. Mayo had quite a head-to-head matchup Sunday at the Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas.
Mayo, the No. 1 player in the class who is rumored to be headed to USC over Kansas State, converted a four-point play in the closing seconds to lead the D-1 Grayhounds to an 83-82 victory over No. 3-rated Rose's Mean Street Express.
The 6-4 Rose, who is considering KU, Memphis, Illinois and others, had 21 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists. The 6-4 Mayo, who was fouled on a late three, finished with 26 points, including six threes.
Rose's teammate, Eric Gordon, who is headed to Illinois, had 28 points and eight boards.
Rose and Gordon will be playing at the Price Chopper K.C. Invitational Friday through Sunday at Okun Fieldhouse in Shawnee.
¢Overseas trip: Reebok Big Time tourney organizer Sonny Vaccaro discussed the possibility of Mayo, Rose and others perhaps skipping college and joining him on a barnstorming tour of Europe next season as the preps await being eligible for the NBA Draft.
"The kids this year have a lot of alternatives," Vaccaro told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "These kids will not play in the NBDL. I don't believe it's a good thing for young kids. It's a minor league."