Kansas University juniors Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush are two of 50 candidates for the 2007-08 John R. Wooden Award, which is presented annually to the top basketball player in the country.
Rush, a 6-foot-6 guard from Kansas City, Mo., and North Carolina junior center Tyler Hansbrough are the only two returning Wooden All-Americans to earn spots on the preseason list, which was released Wednesday.
Five schools had two players on the list: KU (Rush and 6-1 guard Chalmers), UCLA (Darren Collison, Josh Shipp), North Carolina (Hansbrough, Ty Lawson), Washington State (Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver) and Georgetown (Roy Hibbert, Johnathan Wallace).
More than 100 players received at least one vote. There will be a midseason top 30, with the award to be presented in April.
No freshmen are eligible for the preseason list, but may appear on the midseason list.
The Big 12 had six players on the preseason list: the KU duo plus D.J. Augustin, Texas; Joseph Jones, Texas A&M; Martin Zeno, Texas Tech; and Aleks Maric, Nebraska.
¢Oh, Canada: KU coach Bill Self was in Canada on Wednesday recruiting Devoe Joseph, a 6-2 guard from Ajax High in Pickering, Ontario.
Joseph, Rivals.com's No. 84-ranked player who averaged 27 points a game last season for 40-4 Pickering High, will visit Vanderbilt this weekend, KU on Nov. 2, Minnesota on Nov. 9 and Virginia Tech on Nov. 16.
"Devoe is a point guard that can score," AAU coach Ro Russell told Rivals.com.
"He has developed his ballhandling skills and is a smart and confident player. There is no question that he loves to compete. "
¢Soph likes KU: Evan Anderson, a 6-10, 250-pound sophomore from Eau Claire (Wis.) North High, tells Rivals.com he has an early list of KU, Wisconsin, Marquette, Iowa State, Boston College, Kentucky, UCLA and North Carolina.
¢More on future Jayhawk Thomas: New Jersey Elite AAU coach Derrick Bobbitt, who has worked with recent KU commit Quintrell Thomas the past several summers, says KU has a strong reputation with players out East. New York's Russell Robinson is KU's only current East Coast player on the roster.
"Kansas is a great program," Bobbitt said. "People here understand Kansas has great tradition. (However) tradition means nothing if you are not in a position to play. He definitely has the opportunity to come in and play early."
Thomas averaged about 22 points a game last summer for Jersey Elite.
"He had some big games, a 40-something or 50-something point game in West Virginia. He's a very good shooter from 15, 16 feet. That is something he'll show this year (senior year at St. Patrick). He'll fit in well with the system Kansas runs. He likes their style of play. He can pick and pop, do a lot of things," Bobbitt said.
St. Patrick coach Kevin Boyle said Thomas will be an immediate contributor at KU.
"There is an opportunity to get 20 minutes as a freshman, beyond that the following season," Boyle said.
Thomas averaged about nine points a game his junior year of high school.
"On the high school level we are more like Kansas or Duke, our best players average 14, 15," Boyle said. "We don't have somebody average 37. We are a defensive state. Our team can play St. Anthony's and it will be 47-44.
"Right now, he is a 4 (power forward), a live body. He jumps well, has good timing to block shots. He runs the floor well, has a nice touch. He's just now getting comfortable from 18, 20 feet."
¢Tidbits: Thomas wears jersey No. 13 in high school. Last KU player to wear No. 13 was Jeff Boschee (1999-2002). ... St. Patrick has turned out NBA players in Samuel Dalembert (Philadelphia) and Al Harrington (Golden State).