Super Mario Has Left the Building

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 back.”

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 career.”

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 helped.”    

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) advice?

“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 anybody.”

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.

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