Kansas Stars Pursue NBA Dream

Darrell Arthur (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Brandon Rush's KU career is definitely over after three seasons. Sophomore Darrell Arthur, meanwhile, has likely played his last game as a Jayhawk.

As expected, both Brandon Rush and Darrell Arthur announced at a press conference on Thursday that they declared for the NBA Draft. Rush, who had previously declared for the draft twice (after high school and after last season) before withdrawing his name, will look to sign with an agent. However, Arthur said he will not get an agent as he tests the draft waters.

Arthur added he will try out for NBA teams with the hope of being selected in the first half of the first round in the June draft. (There are 30 picks in the first round.) If he doesn’t perform well in tryouts and isn’t projected be a mid-first round pick, he said he will return to KU for his junior year.

As Arthur said, it’s a “win-win situation.”

“I went over with my family members and coaches,” Arthur said. “I just thought this would be the best way to go into it without an agent. I’m just trying to get the feedback from what I hear. If it’s good, then I’ll probably stick with it. If it’s not, then I’m coming back and trying to get another national championship next year.”

KU coach Bill Self said he expects Arthur to perform well in tryouts with NBA teams. Arthur is definitely a first-round lock. Draftexpress.com projects him as the 21st pick, while nbadraft.net has him at No. 14.

“The question is where he’s going to go (in the first round),” Self said. “We  have a feel in the range that he will go in right now, and I think he’s totally comfortable with that knowing that you need to go perform well and hopefully help himself because how he performs in the workouts will, in large part, determine if he stays where he’s slotted right now or if he can help himself or hurt himself a little bit. I think it’s a great opportunity for him to see where he is and then make a decision.”

Self said there was a big difference in being a high lottery pick as opposed to being selected in the late first round.

“If he can be the fifth pick next year as opposed to the 20th pick this year, it would probably be in his best interest to be a fifth pick,” Self said. “I think Shady can really help himself through workouts. I hope he feels this way that if things go well, which we all hope they do, he’ll go (pro). But if he improves at the same accelerated rate that he has since he’s been here, I think is ceiling is very high that he can be a very, very high draft pick next year.”

Despite losing Rush and possibly Arthur, Self said “this is a good day for Kansas basketball. I’m excited for the opportunities that will present itself for these two young men who have given so much to the program.”

“I totally support both of their decisions,” Self added. “I think they’re good decisions. Brandon, most people thought we were going to get him one year and we ‘tricked’ him into coming back for a second. And of course, he got hurt last year (Rush tore his ACL before the draft). We knew going into the season that this day was going to come with these two guys. I think they both made decisions based on the welfare of them having a career.

“Brandon is at a point where it’s time for him to move on. And Shady’s at a point in time where he owes it to himself to investigate because I think he can obviously be a very high draft pick, if in fact, things go right. There’s no surprises about what’s transpired today.”

Junior guard Mario Chalmers is a third Jayhawk who could declare for the NBA draft before the April 27th deadline.

“Mario obviously has a decision to make as well, he and his family,” Self said. “He’s not comfortable yet. I don’t think in his heart he knows. When he’s comfortable, we’ll all know. Until then, I don’t think we should try to push the process too much.”

Rush said he’s heard that he might be picked “late first round, early second, but it depends on how I play in my workouts. So I really got to get after it these next couple of weeks and get ready for the workouts (in June).”

Draftexpress.com projects Rush as the 25th pick in the NBA Draft, while nbadraft.net picks him at No. 19.

NBA Draft expert Chris Monter weighed in on both Rush and Arthur’s draft stock on KLWN’s Rock Chalk Sports Talk radio show.

“(Rush) is a player who figures to go in the later part of the first round,” Monter said. “I was talking to a buddy of mine from Chicago. Brandon’s been doing some workouts in Chicago. He’s really impressive so far from what I’ve heard from some people who have seen him work out. They said he was actually a little bit bigger than what they thought. The first two years (at KU), he was 6-6. They thought he was maybe closer to 6-7, so that would help him. He obviously has the ability to play the three spot, and I think in certain situations he can play the two spot as well, making him a little more versatile.”

Monter said he thinks Arthur can definitely be a lottery pick (first 14 selections) “and depending on team need, which we don’t really know exactly the order, I think there’s a chance he can maybe even sneak into the later part of the top 10.”

Rush said he will not participate in the Orlando pre-draft camp, while Arthur said he hasn’t decided yet.

Both Rush and Arthur (if he goes pro) leave their KU careers with some great individual accomplishments, and of course, a national championship. Rush was a three-time All-Big 12 First-Team selection and led KU in scoring all three seasons, including 13.3 points per game in 2007-08. He was also a Wooden Award All-American the last two seasons, a member of the 2008 Final Four All-Tournament team, and the MOP of the Big 12 Tournament last March.

Rush leaves Kansas as the No. 20 all-time leading scorer in KU history (1,477 points), just one spot ahead of Wilt Chamberlain. He’s also the No. 24 career leading rebounder (602 boards) and fourth-leading three-point shooter (205 threes).
 
"I have learned so much at Kansas," Rush said. "It has taught me to be a better man and a mature man. I just want to thank all the fans and coaches for their support. I'm always going to be a proud Jayhawk. ... To win a national championship has been a dream come true for me (the team), and the coaching staff.”

Arthur led KU in blocks this season with 53 and tied Chalmers for second on the team in scoring at 12.8 points per game. He was also second in rebounds (6.3 rpg). An All-Big 12 First-Team selection, Arthur had his shining moment in the NCAA championship game victory over Memphis with 20 points and 10 rebounds, his fifth double-double this season.

In just two years, Arthur ranks No. 13 on the school’s all-time blocked shot list with 109, two more than Drew Gooden, who played three seasons at Kansas. Arthur scored 884 career points.

"It has been a remarkable two years for me," Arthur said. "I appreciate the love I have gotten here ever since I stepped on campus. I just want to thank the coaches, my mom and my family for all of their support. I’ve grown up to be a very responsible man coming here."

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