During the first installment of this year’s summer series, which will look back at the top players and moments in the 10-season Bill Self era, the Journal-World and KUSports.com staff dissected the top point guards who ran Self’s offenses and guided the Jayhawks to unprecedented heights.
This week, we turn our attention to the off guard position, which not only included some of the biggest names to come through Kansas but also produced some of the best memories in the storied history of the program.
Seven players made the cut, with the top three shooting guards making the top three on all four lists, and two lists included the same five guys, albeit in a slightly different order.
Here’s a look:
- Mario Chalmers: The pride of Anchorage, Alaska, hit the biggest shot in KU history, which means he’s the best shooting guard in KU history as far as I’m concerned.
- Ben McLemore: He’s undoubtedly one of the greatest athletes in KU history. His assortment of dunks was just incredible. Can you imagine if this was a different era and he could play two, three seasons here?
- Tyrel Reed: The classy kid from Kansas, who grew up a Jayhawk fan, was a fierce competitor who wound up being a major contributor. He proved to small-town kids everywhere that, yes, you can make it as a Jayhawk basketball player.
- Michael Lee: I’ll never forget how excited he was to earn a KU scholarship, courtesy of Roy Williams. He went from a likely bench-warmer to a guy KU coach Self could count on. Also one of my favorite Jayhawk interviews of all time. He actually likes the media.
- Jeremy Case: The long-range bomber from Oklahoma caught a bad break at KU. There never was any playing time available, but he studied the game intently and now is an assistant coach.
- Ben McLemore: Combination of shooting touch and leaping ability made him the most exciting player during the Self era.
- Mario Chalmers: Timely steals and clutch shots made him more than worth the $90,000 salary his father drew as director of basketball operations.
- Tyrel Reed: Good leaper and a strong shooter in the clutch, he didn’t take bad shots and was an intense competitor.
- J.R. Giddens: Without his transfer to New Mexico after the Moon Bar incident, Kansas doesn’t get Brandon Rush.
- Michael Lee: Solid player who did a lit bit of everything. Underrated shooter, perhaps, because the shot remembered most was blocked by Hakim Warrick.
- Ben McLemore: Few players at KU have possessed more talent, and few, if any, made the game look so easy. McLemore will be remembered for his three-point shooting and ability to fly through the air but should also be remembered for how much he loved being a Jayhawk.
- Mario Chalmers: One of the most clutch players in KU history, Chalmers also brought that key element of cockiness to any floor he ever stepped on. If not for his huge shot, he’d probably be most remembered for that smirk on his face.
- Tyrel Reed: Proof that hard work and buying into everything KU offers can turn a good player into a big-time player. The Burlington native was a part of a KU-best 132 career victories.
- J.R. Giddens: Giddens’ off-the-court issues overshadowed his skills on the floor, but for a couple of seasons, he flashed a little of what we saw from McLemore in 2012-13. I can remember a stretch during his freshman season when I thought every shot he took was going in.
- Conner Teahan: I know it was just for one season, but that season turned out to be pretty spectacular, and Teahan was part of it. Dubbed at times by Self as KU’s “sixth starter,” the sweet-shooting Teahan often was overmatched but never outworked.
- Mario Chalmers: Ranked in the top 16 nationally in steal rate in each of his three seasons. That alone makes him the best defensive guard Self has had.
- Ben McLemore: One of the most athletic players Self has brought in to Lawrence. McLemore left KU after one season with the school’s freshman scoring record (15.9 points per game) and a highlight reel full of dunks.
- Tyrel Reed: His 1-for-9 performance in KU’s Elite Eight loss to VCU is a shame, as many KU fans won’t remember how good of a player he became. Reed was exceptional his senior year while battling through a left-foot injury. His steal percentage that year would have ranked first on the 2012-13 Jayhawks, while his low turnover rate and accurate three-point shooting (72 of 190, 38 percent) made him an ideal role player on a powerful offensive team.
- J.R. Giddens: I’m only basing this on his on-court performance, and, statistically, Giddens followed a strong freshman year with a so-so sophomore campaign. To Giddens’ credit, he became a much more well rounded player in his final two years at New Mexico after basically serving as a three-point, spot-up shooter at KU.
- Michael Lee: Solid role player for three straight KU teams and a nice guy to boot.