Kansas University's three early entries may or may not emerge as candidates for the NBA's Rookie of the Year Award.
But one thing appears certain: First-round draft picks Darrell Arthur and Brandon Rush and second-round selection Mario Chalmers appear primed to play significant minutes for the Memphis Grizzlies, Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat this season.
"I'm really happy they are getting an opportunity to play," KU coach Bill Self said of three vital cogs in KU's 2008 NCAA title run. "Those guys all went to teams that have been struggling. Julian (Wright, New Orleans Hornets) went to a team with a legitimate shot (at winning title) last year. It was an entirely different situation for him. He played some and is being counted on again this year. It's great they are all doing well. We're excited about all KU players in the NBA."
The Palm Beach Post believes Chalmers has beaten out Chris Quinn for the starting Miami Heat point guard spot heading into tonight's opener against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
"I haven't heard anything yet. If I start, I start, if I don't, I don't. I've just got to be ready when I step out there," Chalmers told the Post.
He averaged 7.3 points (off 48.6 percent shooting) with 4.3 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.4 turnovers in seven exhibition games.
"It would matter a little bit because of my pride," Chalmers said of starting. "But the most important thing would be to win."
Power forward Arthur is expected to be one of the first players off the bench in Memphis' opener at Houston tonight.
Coach Mark Iavaroni said the Grizzlies feel "blessed" to have the 20-year-old Arthur, who averaged 9.8 points (off 55.6 percent shooting) and 4.5 rebounds in the preseason. He logged 17.2 minutes per game.
"We know he can post up. We know he can make shots. But I like what he's done on the glass a lot, especially on the offensive glass," Iavaroni told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. "He's got good athleticism and talent to go with that. His challenge will be overcoming the common thought that he's too small to play the power forward position."
Arthur is determined to make an impact.
"I'm going to show people I can play and that I'm supposed to be here," Arthur said.
Small forward Rush is expected to be the first player off the bench for the Indiana Pacers in tonight's opener at Detroit.
Rush averaged 10.1 points (off 42.3 percent shooting), 3.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists in the preseason. Rush started two of eight games while averaging 28.6 minutes.
"Brandon has to be a guy that's going to be able to really impact the basketball team at both ends of the court," Pacers' coach Jim O'Brien told the Indianapolis Star.
Rush said it's been a challenge playing games on consecutive nights.
"I wasn't expecting it to be like that. I was tired and my legs were sore. It's something I have to get used to," Rush said.
KU's fourth NBA rookie, Cleveland power forward Darnell Jackson, is expected to miss a month of the regular season with a fractured left wrist. Jackson averaged 3.5 points and 2.3 boards while playing 14.3 minutes a game in four Cavs' preseason games.
"He was having a good camp," coach Mike Brown told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Now he's got to figure out the other side of it, which is how to stay in shape and still learn even though he's going to be out."
Former KU power forward Raef LaFrentz of the Portland Trail Blazers also is hurt. He may miss the entire season following shoulder surgery.
Other Jayhawks in the league: Nick Collison, Oklahoma City Thunder; Kirk Hinrich, Drew Gooden, Chicago Bulls; Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics; Jacque Vaughn, San Antonio Spurs and Wright, New Orleans Hornets.
Scot Pollard, who played for NBA champion Boston last season, is working out in Indianapolis in case a team needs help this season.
¢KU practice note: Conner Teahan, who has been hobbled by an ankle sprain, returned to practice on Tuesday.