Though the 2015-16 Kansas basketball season may have ended earlier than we all had hoped for, March is a fun time to be nostalgic, especially when faced with the impending reality of the offseason. Let’s look back at the Jayhawks’ 2008 national championship team, as well as check out what they are up to now.
Russell Robinson – No. 3
The three-year starter from Brooklyn played a vital role for Bill Self’s 2008 championship team, especially on the defensive end of the floor, where his 9.1 defensive win shares place him 15th in Big 12 history.
Against Memphis, the guard made a game-changing assist, finding an open Sherron Collins for a three that cut Memphis’ lead to just four with less than two minutes to play.
Robinson joined various NBA teams for summer league action, but was never able to find a spot on an NBA roster. He has since found playing time with numerous teams overseas, most recently as a part of the 2015 Polish Champions, Basket Zielona Góra.
Darnell Jackson – No. 32
The Oklahoma City native and senior-year starter at forward led the 2008 team in rebounds and field goal percentage. In the title game, Jackson posted a near double-double with eight points and eight rebounds to go along with his persistent effort that helped make him a fan favorite during his four years in Lawrence.
Jackson was taken in the late second round of the 2008 NBA Draft by the Miami Heat, who then sent him to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jackson spent three seasons in Cleveland rotating between the end of the Cavs bench and their D-League affiliate, the Erie Bayhawks.
Jackson is currently playing overseas in Turkey.
Darrell Arthur – No. 00
Arthur, affectionately known as ‘Shady,’ was a star for the Jayhawks from the moment he arrived on campus. As a freshman in 2007, Arthur was named to the All-Big 12 Rookie Team, and he followed that up with a selection to the All-Big 12 First Team the following season.
Arthur finished his two-year career in a Kansas uniform by leading the Jayhawks to the national title with a 20 point, 10 rebound performance against Memphis.
Shortly after the season ended, Arthur declared for the NBA draft, where he was taken 27th overall by New Orleans. He was then traded to Memphis, where he played until the 2013 season. He currently plays nearly 22 minutes a game for the Denver Nuggets, averaging seven points and four rebounds per contest.
Brandon Rush – No. 25
One of the most high profile recruits in the Bill Self era, Brandon Rush enjoyed three seasons in a Kansas uniform, leading the Jayhawks in scoring in each of them. It appeared as if Rush was going to head to the NBA following his sophomore year, but an offseason knee injury nudged him back to Lawrence for the 2008 season.
Rush thrived post-injury, leading a balanced Jayhawk lineup in scoring at 13.3 points per game. He also garnered Big 12 tournament MVP honors. In the national semifinal game vs. North Carolina, Rush exploded for 25 points and seven rebounds, helping Kansas dispatch the Tar Heels by a score of 84-66. In the title game, Rush scored 12 points, pulled down six rebounds, and added two assists.
Rush was taken in the 2008 NBA Draft as a lottery selection, 13th overall. Though Portland drafted him, he was traded on draft night to the Indiana Pacers, where he played until 2011. He now enjoys a bench role for the Golden State Warriors, with whom he won an NBA title with in 2015.
Mario Chalmers – No. 15
Chalmers’ three-year career as a Jayhawk culminated with arguably the biggest shot in Kansas history, hitting a game-tying three-pointer with just seconds left to send the 2008 national championship game into overtime.
Click here to re-live that moment. Warning: Goosebumps may ensue.
Chalmers’ storied Kansas career ended with as the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, bolstering a resume that already included a Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award.
He was taken early in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft and has since won two NBA titles as a member of the Miami Heat. Miami traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies early in the 2015-16 season, where he began playing some of the best basketball of his professional career. Chalmers is currently recovering from an achilles rupture that he suffered in early March.
Cole Aldrich – No. 45
Aldrich, the lone freshman on the 2008 team, played in all 40 games while averaging just over eight minutes per contest. In the national semifinal against North Carolina, Aldrich showed a glimpse of what Kansas fans were in for the next couple of seasons, posting eight points, seven rebounds, and four blocked shots in a career-high 17 minutes.
Aldrich evolved into a Second Team All-American and a future NBA Draft lottery pick. He is currently a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, where he sees just over 12 minutes per game.
Sasha Kaun – No. 24
The four-year center was consistently the first big man off the bench for Bill Self throughout the 2008 season, averaging seven points and four rebounds on 62% shooting.
Kaun was a late second-round draft pick, but he instead went home to Russia to play professionally. Kaun was a member of five Russian league championship teams and won the league Defensive Player of the Year award in 2014. He currently resides on the Cleveland Cavaliers roster, but sees very limited action.
Sherron Collins – No. 4
Bill Self used Collins in an NBA-type sixth man role during the 2008 season, as the sophomore played starter-like minutes off of the bench. Collins, one of the most prolific four-year guards in Kansas history, played a huge role down the stretch of the 2008 title game, hitting the aforementioned three to trim Memphis’ lead to four, as well as assisting on Chalmers’ game-tying shot in the waning seconds of regulation.
Collins played sparingly with Charlotte during the 2010-11 season and has since continued his playing career both overseas and domestically in the NBA D-League.
The 2008 Kansas Jayhawks national championship team posted a 37-3 record, losing those three games by a combined 13 points. They will go down as one of the most dominant Kansas teams of all-time, and they were validated by winning the NCAA tournament championship, proving that feat to be an incredibly difficult one to achieve, no matter the level of dominance.