Is it drafty in here, or is it just me?

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 health issue.

“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 rights.”

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 member school.
  • 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 here.”
  • 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 career.”

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