When I picture Allen Fieldhouse, I see 16,300 strong rocking in the crimson and blue. I can also visualize the five national championship banners, illuminated and glowing behind over 4,000 students tossing newspaper as the home team is announced. What about the other side of the Fieldhouse? On the south side of the arena, a long row of names and numbers fill blue banners. Ranging from Clyde Lovellette to Mario Chalmers, some of the best to have played in a Jayhawk uniform fill the wall.
The wall, you can say, is an exclusive club. Only the best of the best Jayhawks get to see their names unfurled in the rafters. Kansas has produced a plethora of talent since the beginning of the program. We’ve seen players like Wilt Chamberlain, Nick Collison, and Jojo White get their jerseys retired, but who will be next to join them? Let’s break down some of the biggest talent over that last 10 years.
Sherron Collins, 2006-10
Mario Chalmers was the last Jayhawk to have his name hung in the rafters, with the ceremony commencing in 2014. Sherron Collins, fittingly, should be the next. In his tenure with the Jayhawks, Collins became fifth on the Kansas’ all-time scoring list with a whopping 1,888 points scored in four years. “Mario’s Miracle” obviously wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Collins’ crucial past to Chalmers, and without his skill at guard, Kansas would not be celebrating a 2008 national championship. Oh, and Collins is KU’s winningest player in program history.
Honorable Mention: Brandon Rush, 2005-08
Brandon Rush, much like Sherron Collins, was an important piece of the 2008 national championship puzzle. In his freshman season, Rush lead the Jayhawks in scoring with an average of 13.5 points per game. Despite being injured in his sophomore season and leaving for the NBA before his senior year, Rush still played a major role in Bill Self’s offensive and defensive sets. In the Final Four game against North Carolina, Rush put up 25 points in an 84-66 rout.
Thomas Robinson, 2009-12
While at Kansas, Robinson amassed just 2.5 PPG in his freshman season. In Robinson’s junior year, he averaged 17.7 PPG and 12 rebounds, a drastic improvement from 2009. He competed for numerous player of the year awards around college basketball. I can’t possibly forget his biggest highlight, when he blocked Missouri guard Phil Pressey to send the famous final Border War game into overtime. Don’t forget that Robinson helped the Jayhawks get all the way to New Orleans, where they would defeat Ohio State but later lose to Kentucky in the national championship game.
Honorable Mention(s): Tyshawn Taylor, 2008-12 and Elijah Johnson, 2009-13
Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson were fundamental to the Kansas frontcourt during the 2012 Title run. Taylor added 16.6 PPG his senior season, while Johnson contributed 10 his final year. Elijah Johnson scored 39 points in Ames as the Jayhawks edged the Cyclones 108-96 in overtime.
Andrew Wiggins, 2014-15
Despite only playing for one season under Bill Self, Andrew Wiggins still proved that he was the one of the best players in college basketball. In his short time with Kansas, Wiggins averaged 17.1 PPG, and he shot 45% from the field over about 32 minutes per contest. Even with Wiggins and freshman Joel Embiid, the Jayhawks still finished with a disappointing 27-9 record and a round of 32 loss to Stanford. Wiggins was predicted to go number one in the draft before the season had even started, but that didn’t take away from the fact that he still molded and improved under Bill Self.
Honorable Mention: Ben McLemore, 2013-14
McLemore was a key component for the 2013 team. He averaged 15.3 PPG and 5.3 rebounds per game.
Perry Ellis, 1931-2016
Ellis sure did leave his mark on Kansas, participating in all three Jayhawk national titles from 1952 to 2008. “Mr. Consistency” earned his reputation for pumping out big numbers almost every time he was on the floor. By the conclusion of his senior season, Ellis finished eighth on Kansas’ all-time scoring list. He contributed 17 points and six rebounds per game in his senior year. Perry was also awarded academically with Big 12 Scholar Athlete of the Year in both his junior and senior seasons. Although he was shadowed by Ben McLemore and Andrew Wiggins at times, his presence was definitely noticeable to college basketball fans nationwide.
Honorable Mention: Wayne Selden Jr., 2013-16
Selden’s career with the Jayhawks was off and on. While Selden could drop big numbers (such as Kentucky), he also struggled when other games were on the line. Selden averaged 13.8 PPG, while adding 3.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per contest.
There are so many players in the history of Kansas basketball who have made major contributions to the program. Although, the “exclusive club” can only contain so many banners, and there are only so many players that will get their jerseys retired. This is a byproduct of success. This is the staple of tradition. Welcome to Kansas Jayhawk basketball.