Archive for Friday, February 27, 2009

Draft gossip quiet

February 27, 2009, 12:00 a.m. Updated February 27, 2009, 10:44 a.m.


One of the most delightful aspects of this Kansas University basketball season is the absence of incessant blattering about which Jayhawk underclassman will be turning professional after NCAA time. No seniors have even a faint prayer.

Lordy, we’ve actually become caught up in the excitement of a major scuffle for a conference title rather than that who’ll-go-pro stuff. What a treat!

There’s talk that 6-11 sophomore Cole Aldrich could achieve high NBA Draft status and that junior guard Sherron Collins might do likewise. Yet barring some incredible changes in the selection process, both would do well to spend another season at KU. Aldrich could continue to improve with the specialized help of coach Danny Manning, and Collins could sharply hone his erratic ball-handling and decision-making.

With the new talent Bill Self has lined up, Kansas could be a Top-10 attraction from the outset of 2009-10. Plenty of focus from the scouts and our faltering economy might improve enough to make the money prospects better than they might be in this troubled year of strained and leaking budgets.

Last season there was constant haranguing about whether Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers were NBA goners, along with sophomore Darrell Arthur.

Rush got through the season with no new knee ailments, Arthur began to deliver, Chalmers plunked in that game-tying trey against Memphis, and KU won the national title. It was obvious those three might fare OK in the draft along with Sasha Kaun and Darnell Jackson.

This season we have ourselves a real Big 12 horse race, and the battle for four, ideally even five, conference teams to make the NCAA Tournament.

Collins obviously can shoot the ball and is enough of an athlete that even at 5-11 he wouldn’t be too horribly undressed on defense as a pro. Lots of skills for the ultra-quick fireplug. But he needs more refinement.

Aldrich with his agility and variety of moves is going to be a bona fide pro star some day. The famed Bob Knight, ex-coach and now a television analyst, has enthusiastically sung Cole’s praises several times. Yet more Manning tutelage could really refine this package.

Team-wise, KU’s victory over Oklahoma gave the developing Jayhawks a great advantage in the league race. But deep, aggressive and speedy Missouri is good enough to break the 39-game home win streak Sunday, and the March 1 visit to Texas Tech is no cinch. While it once seemed the Texas visit on March 7 could be put into the bank, the Longhorns hooked mighty Oklahoma and, importantly, seem to have found a point guard capable of double-doubles in scoring and assists.

With Dogus Balbay, a 6-foot sophomore ball-handler from Istanbul, Turkey, Texas has become stronger. Balbay had a year as a prep in New Hampshire, sat out last season with a bad leg, spent the summer with a Turkish junior team and has done wonders for the Longhorns. He’s a new face Kansas has to cope with on March 7, now that he’s allowed A.J. Abrams to rejuvenate his long-range shooting skills.

But isn’t it great to be talking about teams, league standings and showdown contests without all that tiresome folderol about likely NBA hopefuls?


Jock Navels 8 years, 12 months ago

Bill, if you find the lack of incessant blathering about who's going pro to be delightful, why do you blather about who might go pro?

Leprechaunking13 8 years, 12 months ago

Bill- Please retire from writing about Sports. The sports you write about, especially basketball, is way past what you can comprehend and keep up with. You have no clue about the draft stock of either Cole or Sherron. If this team makes a deep push into March, either of those two could go if they wanted to. Here's the deal, do they want to? Cole loves being a Jayhawk so he is staying atleast one more, but Sherron? If he's up there he may very well be gone.

Superheated 8 years, 12 months ago

Man Collins could be a bonefied starter in the nba. With the success of J Nelson and other smaller guards I think he has it all. Even last year he was the piece to the puzzle for a national championship. He can drive and score on his own and create shots for others. He has good floor leadership ability and is as quick as anyone in the league. He also has good range and can shoot. Frankly I think he is one of the best guards in college ball. He is ready for the NBA.

As for Cole, he needs another year to get stronger, quckier and work on his footwork speed. His mind has to catch up to his body but I have noticed improvement. Coach should make him do some soccer training skills to work on his footwork and speed.

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