Mario Chalmers (Steve Puppe photo)
Mario Chalmers is moving on. After making the biggest shot in Kansas basketball history and achieving his dream of winning a national championship, the junior guard announced today that he has declared for the NBA Draft. Chalmers will not sign with an agent.
“This has been an unbelievable three years for me at Kansas,
and I appreciate all the love and support all the fans, my teammates
and coaches have shown me,” Mario Chalmers said.
“It’s been a great honor to be part of this
university and be part of a great team to win a national championship.
If everything works out positively, then I’m going to stay in
the draft, but if not, I’m going to come back next year and
lead KU to another national championship.”
Chalmers said he is looking for “anything in the first round.
Right now, I’m hearing between 25 and 35 (picks) is what
coach (Bill) Self is telling me. I just want to try and work out and
see if I can move that higher. If I hear anything that’s not
in the first round, then I’m just going to come
Self believes Chalmers is a first-round pick and can play himself up
higher than No. 25-35 through his performance at the Orlando pre-draft
camp (May 27-29) and especially through individual workouts with NBA
teams in early June.
“He can play himself up to be a top-20 type pick,”
Self said. “I thing we should all be excited for him and the
opportunities that presents himself. It’s been kind of the
vogue thing to do with everybody announcing and not hire (an agent). I
certainly support him and his quest for living out another dream, but I
also believe he is patient enough to know he’ll
make the best decision which is in the best interests of his
Chalmers will be a Jayhawks hero forever after making the three-point
shot with 2.1 seconds remaining in regulation against Memphis in the
national championship game, capping off a thrilling nine-point comeback
with 2:12 left and sending the game into overtime .
Assuming he’s played his last game as a Jayhawk, Chalmers
leaves his career ranked No. 2 in career steals (283) at KU, No. 6 all
time in three-point field goals (180), No. 12 in career assists (420)
and No. 24 all time in scoring (1,341 points), just behind Adonis
Jordan (1,373 points) and ahead of former All-Americans Walt Wesley
(1,315 points) and Jo Jo White (1,286 points).
Chalmers averaged 12.2 points, 3.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 2.6 steals
in 110 games (96 starts) during his career. He was the Final Four Most
Outstanding Player and an All-Big 12 Second Team selection this past
season. Chalmers came on strong at the end of the year, scoring in
double figures his last 10 of 11 games, averaging 17 points
during the final seven games. He scored a career-high 30 points in
KU’s victory over Texas in the Big 12 Tournament Championship
game and ended his career (if he stays in the draft) with 18
points and four steals versus Memphis.
Chalmers’ success in the Big 12 Tournament and NCAA tourney
certainly boosted his market value.
“I think it helped my stock a lot,” Chalmers said.
“I think the biggest thing was just my team winning. I think
that’s what a lot of coaches look at, just the wins and
losses. It weighs heavily with guards, the wins and losses. Those two
championships we brought back, I think that really
Still, Chalmers said it was a tough decision to declare for the draft.
“I had to think about it for a long time,” he said.
“I sat down with coach Self for a couple of times already and
we talked about it. I looked at the pros and cons of all three options
(declaring for the draft and hiring an agent, declaring without hiring
an agent, and returning for his senior year), and I didn’t
think that hiring an agent would be the best fit for me, just because
I’m not projected that high in the draft. I think
it’s great that I have the opportunity to still come back if
I can and I have the opportunity to go if I can. I think I’m
in a win-win situation.”
And his dad’s (Ronnie, KU Director of Basketball Operations)
“My dad basically said, ‘If you feel it’s
the right time, go for it. I know it’s been your dream, but
just be smart about it,’” Chalmers said.
Self loves Chalmers’ chances in the NBA.
“I think it’s a deep draft, I think it’s
a guard heavy draft,” Self said. “But I believe
that he’s as good as anybody out there. This is a day I saw
coming. As soon as we won the national championship and he made that
(shot), he’s on the cover of everybody’s magazines.
I thought, ‘You know, there could be a chance he may test the
waters.’ I don’t think this is a surprise to
And now Chalmers is ready for the next step in his life after hitting
the shot heard around the basketball world and leading KU to a national
title. While Chalmers knows he'd be even more hungry to win another
national title if he came back for his senior season, he believes he
can’t leave on a better note.
“That shot was a one-in-a-million chance,” Chalmers
said. “I‘ll probably never have that chance again
to shoot a shot at that big a stage. That was a good shot and it
brought us a national championship. Right now, I think it’s
time to move on.”
Self said Wednesday that Brandon Rush had signed with Priority Sports
in Chicago with Mark Bartelstein. Bartelstein was KU assistant Danny
Manning’s former agent during his NBA career.