His NBA career may not have matched what people would expect from the No. 12 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, but there's not a person alive who can say that former Jayhawk Nick Collison's pro career has not been a rousing success.
Success, of course, can be defined in a number of different ways. Rings. Wins. Stats. And even fame are the most often talked about measurements when it comes to pinpointing the success of professional athletes.
But Collison has become a star in much different way, one that seemingly will have a lasting impression on those he played with for years to come.
Drafted by the Seattle Supersonics (five years before the franchise relocated to Oklahoma City) after a stellar four-year career at Kansas, Collison recently completed his 15th season with the same franchise, though playing more of a bench-coach role on a one-year, minimum-contract salary during the 2017-18 season.
Collison's career with the Sonics/Thunder included 895 appearances — 177 of them starts — and career averages of 6.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in 20.7 minutes per game. Collison's career totals include more than 5,300 points and 4,700 rebounds.
But those numbers — including a career year in 2007-08 when he played in 78 games, started 35 and finished the season averaging 9.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game — pale in comparison to the measure of the impact Collison has had on his teammates throughout the years.
Never was that more obvious than earlier this week, after the final regular season game of the season, when OKC guard Russell Westbrook, who had just completed becoming the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double in back-to-back seasons, was on the microphone thanking the fans and took a moment to bring Collison onto the floor with him.
In doing so, Westbrook referred to Collison as his "friend, mentor and brother," and told the roaring Thunder crowd, "He's somebody I always looked up to, it's a real pleasure to have him here. I just wanted to make sure you guys show him some love."
With that, Westbrook lowered the mic and raised his arms, encouraging the crowd to get even louder in their ovation for the former Jayhawk and franchise's favorite son.
"I'm not sure if it's his last season or not," Westbrook continued. "But he's somebody I always looked up to as a brother. He's done so much for this organization, I just wanted to make sure you guys gave him a standing ovation for the things he's done for this city."
As for whether this will be Collison's final season in the NBA, the former KU standout addressed that with reporters prior to the Thunder victory in that regular season finale.
"I still enjoy playing, enjoy being out there," Collison said. "And we've got one regular season game (and then) the playoffs and I'll figure out what I'm doing after that."
Now that it worked for Sports Illustrated and the Houston Astros, it seems like everybody is at least considering taking a shot at predicting the future.
The Astros, in case you don’t know, made good on a 2014 SI cover story that proclaimed them the 2017 World Series champs by knocking off the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 of this year’s World Series on Wednesday night in L.A.
The win marked the first world championship for the Astros franchise, but, perhaps more notably, sent the rest of the sports world into absolute pandemonium over that 2014 Sports Illustrated cover.
Ebay and other such sites are currently selling that magazine for nearly $300 or more and its legend only figures to grow from here.
So how does this all relate to anything to do with KU Sports?
Well, thanks to Bryce Wood, a Washburn University graduate and Topeka native, we now know. Wood, a talented graphic designer who actually has done some freelance cover work for Sports Illustrated — including designing all four of this year’s NFL preview covers featuring Tom Brady, David Johnson, Aaron Rodgers and J.J. Watt — took to Twitter (@woodymlb4) to release his own mock SI cover featuring none other than the Kansas football team.
Themed exactly like that Astros cover from 2014, with KU quarterback Carter Stanley in the center, it reads, “An unprecedented look at how a dynasty is forming to build the game’s next big thing.... Your 2018 National Champs. P.30”
On the other side of the magazine, below his name and behind Stanley, who has the ball cocked high and ready to throw, reads, “Haha Just Kidding.”
So, obviously, Wood, who considers himself a fan of KU sports, is not actually predicting this accomplishment, nor is he going out on the same kind of limb that Sports Illustrated did three years ago with that Astros prediction.
But it’s pretty funny nonetheless and it shows two things — 1. How some KU fans currently are dealing with the football team’s struggles. And 2. Just how big that SI cover has become.
With KU sitting at 1-7 in David Beaty's third season, it's hard to imagine things turning around so drastically for this cover prediction to become true. Then again, the Astros were coming off of three consecutive seasons with at least 105 losses (in 162 games) and were 36-48 at the time the cover hit newsstands.
Back in 2011, a handful of Kansas State graduates who spent so many of their college days rooting hard against Kansas, came together to do something good for the city of Lawrence.
In honor of their friend, who had passed away after a battle with breast cancer, these K-State grads joined forces with former KU football player Harrison Hill, Lawrence business man Miles Schnaer and others in the weeks leading up to the KU-K-State football showdown to raise money to remodel Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s oncology wing, where their dear friend spent so many days during her treatment.
In just a short time, these women raised well over their goal of $100,000 and sent the money to LMH to honor their friend Jamie Pursley’s wish to make the environment and atmosphere inside the treatment rooms fresh and upbeat.
Today, this same group, now operating behind The Jamie’s Wish Foundation name, is at it again, this time for the benefit of the University of Kansas Cancer Center North, located in Kansa City, Mo.
“JWF has one goal,” the group wrote in a press release. “To make chemotherapy infusion areas more comfortable for cancer patients.”
This time around, dubbed “Together for a Common Cause II,” their efforts are under way in the memory of Andy Tyhurst, who lost his battle with appendix cancer last July.
“JWF bridges a divide between KU and K-State fans,” the group said. “Making cancer care more comfortable for patients is a big win for both teams.”
With that in mind, the Foundation is hosting a tailgate event for this weekend’s Sunflower Showdown at Memorial Stadium from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 11th and Mississippi from Lot 96 to Lot 130 at Memorial Stadium.
The area will be marked by pink balloons and more than 300 KU and K-State fans who have been inspired by JWF and Tyhurst and Pursley plan to put the Rock Chalk Chickenhawk and Little Brother barbs aside — at least before the game — to raise money for this great cause.
To donate or learn more about Saturday's fund-raiser, visit jamieswish.org or contact the Foundation’s head of media relations, Jamie Borgman, at (913)-568-8221 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
KU (1-6 overall, 0-4 Big 12) and K-State (3-4, 1-3) will kick off this year's Sunflower Showdown at 2 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
In discussing the “tough week” that hammered college basketball from nearly all angles this week, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self on Thursday night focused mostly on what could be done to fix a culture that has allowed shoe companies, third parties and the high-stakes world of recruiting to take control of the sport.
But although Self admitted that many of the ideas he had either thought of or heard about — ideas that, on the surface, might make the game better — he also acknowledged that finding the solution likely would be a long and difficult process.
It remains to be seen just how deep the ongoing FBI investigation will go and how many more schools, coaches and athletes will find themselves in serious trouble, but there is no doubting that every aspect of the college game is suddenly under heavy scrutiny and facing dangerous days ahead.
That fact only figures to add to the already existing pressure that surrounds the game. And Self on Thursday night opened up about the numerous layers of pressure that exist within college basketball.
“The money is what’s driven the pressure,” he said. “There’s pressure on the NCAA, when they’ve got a how-many-billion-dollar industry? There’s pressure on the schools to hire the right guys and pay them a high salary that gives them the best chance to (win). And then there’s pressure from the alumni that expect certain things, and in order to make bills meet you jack up the ticket prices, so now there’s pressure on coaches even from alums that say, ‘You’re not giving us the product that we’re paying for.’
“And then there’s pressure on the kids because if they don’t go to the league after their sophomore year, they’re considered failures. There’s pressure on everybody. And I do think it’s more magnified now and it probably is more than it has been because of all the money that’s involved in our industry.”
Most, if not all, of that pressure has always existed in the world of college athletics, but Self said he thought the advancement of social media has taken it to new levels year after year.
“Coaches don’t win games, players do,” he said. “And in order to win you need to have as good of guys or better guys than the people you’re competing against. That’s common sense. So I’ve always thought there was pressure in recruiting. But I do think that the attention has been elevated so much through social media. Instead of getting on the message boards, you could almost call it rumor boards, too. There’s things that are said all the time and now you have to defend yourself all the time. And it’s everybody that has to do this.”
One of the biggest sources of pressure, according to Self, is the frustration that comes from not knowing exactly what is going on with every prospect a program recruits. Sure, coaches are able to keep in touch with the players on a regular basis, and, yeah, they meet the parents and AAU coaches and, occasionally, even a young man’s extended family. But Self said sometimes that is not enough.
“You have too many third parties involved,” he said.
And the only way to eliminate that altogether, or at least lessen their influence, is to overhaul the entire system.
“You’re also talking about where it’s totally legal for agents or financial planners or whatever to go meet with a 15-year-old and his family or a 16-year-old and his family,” Self said. “And you think that everybody that is meeting with them are 100 percent ethical and above board? There’s a lot of stuff. And that’s why there needs to be reform. There’s no question about that. I just don’t know if anybody’s come up with a perfect scenario to do that.
“Some people say just pay players and we won’t have this issue. I think that could open up a whole other deal. So there’s some serious things that have to be discussed and decisions made to allow our sport to move on in a favorable way.”
More news and nuggets from a crazy week in college basketball
- Kansas Athletics monitoring charges against Adidas exec; feds have not contacted KU
- Tale of the Tait: KU's shoe deal with Adidas is company's largest total dollar deal, ranks fourth in nation
- White-collar crime attorney says high-profile coaches now at risk in fast-moving college basketball probe
- AUDIO: Matt Tait joins 1320 KLWN's Rock Chalk Sports Talk to discuss FBI investigation into college basketball recruiting practices
- NCAA basketball coaches, Adidas executive among 10 charged in bribe scheme
For the second consecutive year, Allen Fieldhouse will transform into a high-energy concert venue during the minutes leading up to the men’s basketball team’s first practice of the 2017-18 season.
KU announced Tuesday afternoon that international rap star Lil Yachty would be the featured performer at this year’s Late Night in the Phog event and the Grammy-nominated artist will kick off the on-court festivities just after 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Known for his hit singles "One Night" and "Minnesota" from his debut EP Summer Songs, Lil Yachty was nominated for a Grammy in 2017 for his collaboration with D.R.A.M. on "Broccoli."
Yachty’s performance, along with the skits and hoops scrimmage you’ve come to love from Late Nights past will be the cherry on top of a day that will begin bright and early with the Phog Festival on the front lawn of Allen Fieldhouse, which will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will feature many activities for fans of all ages, including a Family Fun Zone, radio remotes, a mobile video board and a live DJ. The festival will also include food trucks, giveaways, interactive displays and much more throughout the day.
The list of food trucks on site includes: Blend, G's Jamaican Cuisine, Salty Iguana, Polar Oasis and Draskos.
Doors will open for students at 4:30 p.m. and the general public will be allowed in at 5 p.m. Seating is offered on a first-come-first-served basis and parking is free everywhere except the parking garage just north of Allen Fieldhouse.
From 5:15-6:30 p.m., Allen Fieldhouse will be the site of the finals of this year’s 3-on-3 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, as well as the location of the final showdowns between KU students who battle it out on the NBA2K18 video game.
KU coaches Bill Self and Brandon Schneider will be on hand to present trophies to the winners.
This year’s Late Night fun will be broadcast live by Spectrum Sports, which can be found on the Jayhawk Network and ESPN3. Greg Gurley and Brian Hanni will serve as hosts.
In case you missed the announcement on Tuesday, you might want to sit down before you read this.
The Final Four, as we know it, is changing.
No, the NCAA is not reseeding the teams when they get there (a great idea); no, they haven’t decided to limit the rotation of Final Four sites to New Orleans, San Antonio and Indianapolis (an even better idea); and, no, they aren’t turning college basketball’s grand finale into three best-of-three series showdowns to make it more closely resemble the NBA playoffs (a terrible idea, one I’ve never heard suggested and I don’t even know why I wrote it).
In the interest of clarity, it should be pointed out that the Final Four itself is not actually changing at all. But the Final Four experience, the weekend of hype and excitement and music and contests and give-aways that surround the main event is adding a wrinkle that figures to draw some interest and up the fun level for fans and players alike.
Here’s the gist:
• Intersport, a marketing company based out of Chicago, on Tuesday announced the creation of a 3-on-3 tournament at the Final Four, which Intersport will host. The event will be dubbed the “3-on-3 College Hoops Invitational.” Sounds cool. But it gets better.
• The participants will be current seniors who have exhausted their college eligibility — i.e. did not reach the Final Four with their teams — and teams will be formed with members of the same conference playing together. Think Frank Mason III teaming up with fellow Big 12 seniors Monte Morris and Deonte Burton had they created this event last year.
• The rules will be standard, international, 3-on-3 rules: one point for a basket inside the 3-point line and two points for a bucket behind the line, with 12-second shot clocks and games played to 21 or whichever team has the highest score after 10 minutes of play.
• Each team will feature four players, three starters and one substitute, and, together, they will be competing in a three-day bracketed tournament — March 30-April 1 in San Antonio — for a cash prize of $100,000. Think about that as a graduation present — all four players on the winning team receive $25,000 apiece. Pretty sweet!
David Worlock, NCAA director of media coordination, told CBS Sports that the Intersport event was in no way directly associated with the NCAA or the Final Four, which is what allows the existence of a cash prize. Intersport also is the company that puts on the dunk contest and 3-point contest held in conjunction with the Final Four each year for the past 29 years.
This event is the latest to join the 3-on-3 craze that has reemerged as a big player in the game of basketball. The 3-on-3 format was added to the 2020 Olympics, of all places, and The Big Three event, created by Ice Cube and featuring some big and bright names from the NBA’s recent past, was a hit with fans, both in person and watching from home.
“The game of 3-on-3 basketball continues to gain momentum thanks to its recent addition to the Olympics and further development at the professional and grassroots levels,” Intersport vice president of sports properties Drew Russell said in a statement. “Based on our storied and successful history of creating and producing live college events for more than 30 years, Intersport is perfectly positioned to bring 3-on-3 basketball to the college game. We've been in the planning stages for months and are excited to bring this new and exciting opportunity to market for the very first time.”
While the event has some punch to it, fans of college programs across the country obviously will be rooting against the idea of having any of their players playing in the event.
Still, for those fans with intense conference pride and for those who would like idea of seeing their seniors play one more time after elimination from the NCAA Tournament, the 3-on-3 College Hoops Invitational has some serious potential.
One of the biggest potential pitfalls, of course, is the idea of players passing on the opportunity for fear of injury a couple of months ahead of the NBA Draft. And while that, no doubt, will keep a bunch of seniors from playing in the tournament, the mere fact that seniors being taken in the two-round NBA Draft has been on a steady decline for years at least brings back into play the possibility of a bunch of notable seniors deeming it worth their while, especially with that cash prize sitting there for the taking.
Who knows if this idea will have the staying power of the dunk contest and 3-point shootout, but it sure seems like it will be fun to find out.
After a summer spent wearing wild and wacky No. 99 with the Phoenix Suns’ summer league team, it appears that former Kansas standout Josh Jackson is prepared to enter his rookie season with a number that’s more common in the basketball world.
Jackson, who wore No. 11 at Kansas, will be wearing No. 20 for the Suns this season, largely because veteran guard Brandon Knight already wears No. 11.
Sure, guys have been known to pay for numbers in the past. And, yeah, it’ll probably happen again many times over in the future. But not Jackson. At least not now.
When he got to KU, that was a totally different story, as he had to work out a deal with Tyler Self for the coveted No. 11.
If I remember correctly, Jackson said the terms of the deal were a nice meal, maybe a steak dinner, on Jackson, which, clearly, was good enough for Tyler, who gave up No. 11 and switched to No. 20, the number his dad wore at Oklahoma State.
That’s where things get funny and the short comedy skit played out on Twitter on Friday.
Here’s a look:
Not a bad jab by Tyler followed by a pretty solid reply from Jackson.
The other night, when I was perusing yet another NBA Summer League box score, a thought occurred to me that inspired a little extra examination.
Why is it that a short story about an average game by new Sacramento Kings point guard Frank Mason III gets a ton of love on our site, while a similar note about former KU forward Cheick Diallo topping 20 points and impressing New Orleans’ coaches entering Year 2 of his pro career draws far less interest?
The answer was easy to find. And it has everything to do with how long the two players were in Lawrence and what they did while they were here.
With Mason, a four-year player and three-year leader who capped his KU career with the best individual season by a guard in Big 12 history, the opportunity for fans to watch him succeed and fail, to share the ride through college basketball’s ups and downs with him, took KU fans on a long journey and provided time for them to feel a true connection with the once-quiet Petersburg, Va., native.
With Diallo, and others like him, the time was short-lived and left many Kansas fans with a ‘We hardly knew ya,’ attitude toward the once-hyped, highly coveted former prep standout.
I’ve long been a believer that the Kansas basketball players who are remembered the longest — and the fondest — are the ones with whom the fans feel a true connection.
Sure, winning a title trumps everything. So, yeah, Danny Manning, Milt Newton, Kevin Pritchard, Chris Piper, Scooter Barry and that gang, along with Mario Chalmers, Russell Robinson, Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, Sasha Kaun and the 2008 crew will always be beloved for bringing home the hardware.
But there’s more to the college basketball experience than cutting down nets. Especially for the fans. And there have been more than a few KU players throughout the decades who have held a special place in the hearts of thousands of rabid KU fans for reasons beyond their basketball accomplishments.
Be them personality traits, hardships, memorable moments or unforgettable toughness and courage, those players have endeared themselves to Kansas fans everywhere for eternity and will not soon be forgotten.
For this exercise, and because KU coach Bill Self last season called Mason the greatest guard he’s ever coached, let’s take a quick look at the most memorable fan favorites of the Self era.
1. Frank Mason III
Heading into his senior season, I’m not sure I would’ve put Mason on this list, let alone this high on it. But then he became the unanimous national player of the year, turned in one of the best seasons in Big 12 history and did it all while being the face of the standard of toughness for all past and future Kansas players. Add to that his sudden rise in the NBA Draft, which came with Mason still maintaining his underdog persona, and you’re talking about a player who every KU fan felt like they knew on a personal level and rooted for like family.
2. Thomas Robinson
This is tied directly to the death of his mother, Lisa Robinson, who passed away unexpectedly during T-Rob’s sophomore season, just weeks after the powerful power forward lost two of his grandparents. At such a heartbreaking time in the young man’s life, the Kansas faithful opened their collective arms as wide as possible and wrapped them around the KU forward, who, beyond using the KU family to help him get through such a tough time, also turned in All-American numbers in leading the Jayhawks to the national title game one year later. The wins were great. But it was the bond created between player and fan — one that later even extended to Robinson’s younger sister, Jayla — that landed Robinson so high on this list.
3. Mario Chalmers
Yes, Chalmers is on this list — and dozens of others — because he hit arguably the biggest shot in the storied history of Kansas basketball. But his status as a fan favorite was cemented long before the 3-pointer to tie Memphis in the 2008 national title game. That, obviously, did not hurt his standing, but more than the shot, or any number of deadly 3-pointers and steals that Chalmers drained or swiped during his time at KU, was the smirk. The look on Chalmers’ face that surfaced when KU had an opponent beaten or when the outcome was still uncertain, but Mario wasn’t, was the stuff of legends and endeared him to KU fans everywhere. It was the kind of look that you loved if it was on your side and absolutely despised with every fiber of your being if you were on the other side.
4. Darnell Jackson
One of the true all-heart players to come through Kansas, Jackson enjoyed the perfect career trajectory, from seldom-used sub as a true freshman to national champion starter as a senior. Sometimes, simply paying your dues along that path is enough to inspire grand appreciation from the KU fan base, but, with Jackson, there was much more that went into it. For starters, his personality. A no-nonsense guy on the court, with a fun-loving and expressive personality off of it, Jackson carried with him that lovable teddy bear vibe, provided that teddy bear came in a 6-foot-8, 250-pound, rock solid frame. As was the case with Robinson, the personal tragedies Jackson endured during his life, both while at KU and after, (his grandmother died in a car wreck and mother later passed away after an overdose of pain pills) tugged at the heart strings of many KU fans and created that deeper connection between the player and the fans.
5. Sherron Collins
The perfect combination of Mario Chalmers’ swagger and Frank Mason’s toughness, with the bulk of his playing career sandwiched right between the two, Collins’ Chicago-style persona and constant willingness to sacrifice his body in any and every way for the KU basketball program in pursuit of the next bucket or victory made him one of the most beloved Jayhawks of the past couple of decades. His passion for the game, ability to play bigger than his size and raw emotion and fiery mentality provided Self’s post-title teams with the perfect leader for the next era. Add to that the huge role he played in delivering the 2008 title and it’s easy to see why Collins was so loved and still is.
Have an opinion about which one of these Jayhawks stands above the rest? Or maybe your guy didn't make this list? Vote here in our fan favorite poll and/or name your guy and why in the comment section below.
The best thing that ever happened to Wayne Selden Jr., came on draft night 2016, when 30 NBA teams told him for 60 picks that they did not believe he was good enough to play in their league.
Until that very moment, Selden spent most of his life thinking otherwise and doing it with pretty strong conviction.
That night, however, lit a fire under Selden that led him to last weekend, when he signed a two-year deal with the Memphis Grizzlies and, in doing so, became a bona fide NBA player.
Sure Selden played a handful of games with New Orleans and Memphis during his rookie season. And, yeah, he even started two games in the freakin’ playoffs. But those moments were short-lived and did not guarantee the former Jayhawk anything.
This contract does. It guarantees Selden a real chance. It guarantees that he will be able to work and fail, grow and learn, win and lose, without having to worry about what every move he makes, good or bad, will mean for his future.
Give a guy like Selden, who stands 6-foot-5, 230 pounds and appears to have his explosive athleticism back, that kind of freedom and relief and there’s no telling what’s possible.
Is Selden going to take this chance and turn it into the first chapter in an All-Star story? Doubtful. But is it possible that this chance will be the one that allows Selden to stick around the league for the next 5-7 years, providing him the opportunity to live out a dream and make some good coin while doing it? You bet.
And speaking of betting, I’d be more than willing to bet that’s exactly the way this will go down.
Selden is talented enough to play in the NBA. He’s fast, physical, can shoot it well enough and has that inner drive that is required to keep up with the best basketball players in the world.
He showed that throughout his stint in the NBA’s Developmental League (now known as the G League), where he often looked much more angry than happy to be there.
There was a reason for all of it. Selden was angry. Angry at the ball, angry at the rim, angry at the hand the basketball gods had dealt him. But instead of allowing that anger to eat him up, Selden used every ounce of it to prove himself. Talk about a heck of a success story.
When I caught up with Selden in early June after the annual Rock Chalk Roundball Classic, the anger was gone. Not only was he cool to talk to and happy to share his story, but he also seemed very much at peace with his life and career. That was before the guaranteed, two-year contract. And you know what? Something tells me Selden was that way because he believed good news was coming.
Now that it has, and now that Selden appears to be comfortable with where he’s at again, don’t expect him to pull back or ease up an ounce.
Selden’s smart – one of the more intelligent KU basketball players I’ve dealt with. He knows what got him here. And he knows what it will take to stick.
Now he just has to do it.
So far so good in that department. Through the first two games of Summer League action in Las Vegas, Selden has made two starts and is averaging 25 points per game on 16-of-33 shooting (48.5 percent), including a 6-of-11 clip from 3-point range.
Selden and the Grizzlies (2-0) will return to action at 3:30 p.m. today against Utah.