Missouri and Kansas State zealots will cringe at this, but how could people with any Kansas connections not be beaming with pride over the way coach Bill Self and his Kansas Jayhawks projected the "sunflower" image in their recent trip to Washington and the White House?
The Jayhawks all looked good in their suits, though Mario Chalmers surely could have used some nip-tucking here and there. They were highly presentable, and when they talked, they showed class and respect for their surroundings. This was not a time for political incorrectness, and the KU contingent handled the situation with aplomb.
This was not just a Kansas University production but a reflection of the state of Kansas. If peevish K-State loyalists couldn't see that, and how well they, too, were represented, you gotta mourn their myopia. As for MU people envious of the favorable exposure their "enemies" got, think Midwest, Big 12 and how the KU junket reflected notably on those entities.
Whether you're pro or con, president George Bush had done his homework. He noted Danny Manning's 1988 titular presence, got the "rock chalk" reference right and called attention to the fact some of the guests could wind up pretty affluent.
Darrell Arthur and Brandon Rush could be NBA lottery picks - No. 15 or higher in the June 26 draft. We'll crunch some numbers in a second. There is evidence that Mario Chalmers might get shoved down to the second round, 31st or lower. If that's pretty certain, he'll be better off coming back to KU as a senior. Things get real iffy if you don't get a first-round guaranteed contract. Complicating things, as usual, are the foreign prospects and how many Americans they might displace.
One projection has Arthur going 10th in the draft to the New Jersey Nets. We'd love for him to land with a better team, but even so, he'll do well financially. A No. 10 choice this year gets a two-year guaranteed contract paying $1,748,800 the first year, $1,879,900 the second. If the team is satisfied, there will be a third-year option of $2,011,100 to boost the bank account. Depending on performance, that could be higher.
Suppose Rush is picked 12th by the Sacramento Kings (though there's some evidence the San Antonio Spurs might try to deal for him). The No. 12 guy is guaranteed $1,578,200 the first year, $1,696,600 the second, then has a $1,815,000 third-year option.
Just for kicks, let's say Chalmers is the 30th and last guaranteed selection by the Boston Celtics, where he could join KU's Paul Pierce. The worst Mario will do is $797,600 the first year and $857,400 the second, with a third-year $917,000 option. Anybody offer you that kind of loot to leave college a year early? Or even after you earned a Ph. D?
As a second-rounder, Mario for all his allure would need a crafty agent to get him anything like that No. 30 package. But a year from now he could be well up the chain and into the $1,750,000 rookie range.
In 1998, Paul Pierce was chosen No. 10 in the draft and was openly perturbed that he was that far down, as if KU, coach Roy Williams or somebody hadn't hustled him sufficiently. He's high on the hog now as he attempts to win that first title ring, but you can understand now why he felt he didn't get his just due as a rookie.
The guaranteed 2008-09 salary setup for first-rounders is awesome, and we're wishing our Jayhawks only the best on draft day.