Brandon Rush (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
A memorable year for KU basketball got even better Thursday night when five KU basketball players were selected in National Basketball Association draft, including two first-round picks, for the first time in school history.
Those five included two first-round selections. It was just the fourth
time in school history two Jayhawks were drafted in the first round and
the second time it’s happened since the NBA draft went to
just two rounds in 1989.
“I’m happy for our guys,” Self said
Thursday night after the draft, “but I was a little
disappointed that a couple of them fell past what they were told they
were going to go. That’s always disappointing.”
Brandon Rush was the first Jayhawk drafted, chosen by the Portland
Trailblazers with the 13th pick. Minutes later, Rush was traded to
Indiana in a multiplayer deal. He will join his older brother, Kareem,
as Pacer teammates.
Meanwhile, Darrell Arthur had to sweat it out in the draft green room.
Arthur was expected to be a mid-first round pick and slid to 27 where
he was chosen by the New Orleans Hornets. He barely had time to put the
Hornets cap on before he found out he was traded to the Portland
Trailblazers for cash considerations. Before the night was over,
Arthur’s draft rights were traded to the Houston Rockets and
yet again to the Memphis Grizzlies.
ESPN reported that an “undisclosed kidney
condition” was likely the reason for Arthur’s slip.
Self said that was probably the case, based on what teams told him
during the draft. The problem is, Arthur’s most recent blood
tests all came back negative.
Self said, “I talked to Shady about this last night. He told
me exactly what he said on TV, that Washington did blood work on him
and everything came back normal. Word didn’t get out to other
teams that that test was normal. They were still going on previous
tests. If that’s the case, somebody really dropped the ball
and that cost him and his family a lot of money.”
The coach said he talked to several teams throughout the night who said
they wanted to draft Arthur but couldn’t because of this
“They couldn’t confirm that he was okay, so
somebody dropped the ball,” Self said.
Even so, Self found positives about Arthur’s draft night,
particularly the late trade to Houston which had been rumored all night.
“If he goes to Houston, what a great place for him to play
between Tracy (McGrady) and Yao (Ming) and have a chance to impact that
team,” he said.
Championship game hero Mario Chalmers was selected by the Minnesota
Timberwolves with the fourth pick of the second round. As the Jayhawks
did all year, they showed incredible balance one last time: Chalmers
was promptly traded to Miami.
Chalmers also was selected later than most thought after being
projected as high as number 12 by a few mock drafts, mid- to late first
round by most. Self said he was surprised by Chalmers’ fall.
“I am surprised, based on the feedback Mario and Ronnie
(Chalmers, KU assistant coach) gave us. I talked to numerous teams and
he was definitely on their board, so it’s very disappointing
that a guy with eligibility left would fall to the second round.
I’m sure that he’s disappointed.”
The fall most likely will cost Chalmers a lot of guaranteed money
upfront. Self said, however, that Chalmers landed on his feet by being
traded to Miami.
“(Chalmers) went to a great team and has a real chance to
impact it. Although it was very disappointing tonight, I think in the
long run, it could turn out to be okay for him.”
Darnell Jackson’s hard work and vast improvement over the
past two seasons was rewarded when he was selected by Miami at 52, and
Sasha Kaun was chosen by the Seattle Supersonics with the 56th pick.
They were quickly reunited as possible NBA teammates when the Heat and
Sonics traded their rights to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I thought Darnell and Sasha would go mid-second,”
Self said. “After Sasha signed that deal in Russia, no matter
who drafted him, he’s probably going over there for a couple
of years. But as long as he got taken, someone will retain his
Notes about Jayhawks and
the NBA draft
- KU tied a record for most players chosen in the first two
rounds of an NBA draft. Florida logged five draft picks last year, and
Connecticut had five in 2006.
- No word yet from NBA commissioner David Stern on whether
Rush, Chalmers or Arthur have to give their original team caps back.
- Seven Jayhawks have been first-round selections since 2002:
Drew Gooden, Nick Collison, Kirk Hinrich, Wayne Simien, Julian Wright,
Brandon Rush and Darrell Arthur. KU has now had 24 first-round picks
since the draft started in 1947. The first was Clyde Lovellette in 1952.
- Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference in 1996-97,
Kansas has had 16 players drafted by NBA teams, more than any other
- Sasha Kaun, whose rights are owned by the Cleveland
Cavaliers, will be heading home to Russia Sunday to start practicing
with the national team. “I’ll probably play for
CSKA for a couple years and then definitely consider coming back
- Self on Russell Robinson, who was not drafted: “A
lot of times, it’s more beneficial to not be drafted to be
taken where you don’t get guaranteed second-round money or a
guaranteed slot with your team. I don’t think it’s
bad he didn’t get drafted; I think his chances to impress
people are greater because he can pick and choose what team he goes to.
I think he’ll be playing in an NBA summer league, and I also
think there’s a great chance he could be overseas.
He’s just got to make a decision if he wants to pay the price
and go the developmental route, most likely, or if he wants to go
overseas and make as much money as he can early in his