In all the discussion about whether Kansas University basketball stars Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins will bypass pro status and return for KU’s 2009-10 season, a human side of the equation too often is swept under the rug.
There is wishful agreement among Jayhawk fans that both young men would benefit greatly from another year of college seasoning. Of course, a lot of zealots realize how good KU with its holdovers and newcomers could be next season with those ’08-09 mainstays. They’re trying to hope the guys into returning.
With Collins, some solid sources say he’s not good enough with the ball to be a solid NBA point guard and too short and inconsistent to make the grade as a shooting guard. How easily would his 5-11 height allow 6-4-type pro defenders to wear him out in post-ups?
Another angle, however, is that Collins has a child in the Chicago area, and given a chance to make a six-figure salary he just might go that route to benefit his family and youngster. Sherron is not a top-10 draft prospect. But if he could be assured of going in the second round as Mario Chalmers did last season, could he end up making the $700,000 wage Chalmers is making his first season?
Sure, Collins could use another year at the Bill Self Academy, but would that appeal to him if he could earn at least $500,000?
Touchy as the subject might be, Aldrich’s dad has been out of a job, and the son might decide to boost the family income. There’s no question Aldrich is NBA material even if he could use more Danny Manning tutelage at KU. But suppose he learned he could be a top-10 draftee this spring. Let’s consider some figures.
The 2009-10 NBA rookie scale calls for the No. 1 draft choice to get a guaranteed contract of $4,152,900 for the first year, $4,464,400 for the second and a third-year option of $4,775,900. The No. 10 draft pick would range from $1,807,100 the first year, $1,942,600 the second and $2,078,100. The No. 30 draft combo is $824,200, $886,000 and $947,800. Anything on the 30-and-better chart might appeal to Aldrich.
It’s tough to believe Aldrich, green as he might seem, wouldn’t be a 30th-or-better selection.
As for the glitzy Lance Stephenson and Xavier Henry, who admit they’re thinking one-year-and-out as collegians, maybe Self and Co. can accept that kind of deal (they originally took Brandon Rush that way, then got three years instead of one). I’m so old-fashioned I’d lean to an Aldrich or even Julian Wright, who at least gave two productive years to the cause. Let the one-shot egos fish or cut bait.
Probably KU’s most notable year-and-gone player was Pekka Markannen in 1990, after which he went home to a pro career in Finland. Darrin Hancock (1993) was a juco who left for Indiana State. In the 1970s, some thought Salina’s Nino Samuel was so good he might enter the NBA right out of high school. At 6-6, 225 but no shooting touch at all, Nino lettered in 1973 at KU, transferred to Salina’s Marymount and now at age 55 is a personal trainer in Georgia.
Selfishly, we KU loyalists want Collins and Aldrich back for another season. Reality-wise, it’s understandable if they depart because of needed $500,000-and-up incomes.