Friday Mornings with Bob: Self’s best KU guard and Players of the Year

Hey RCB readers, welcome back to the third edition of Friday Mornings with Bob! With the Big 12 title all wrapped up, and most likely a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, it’s pretty smooth sailing from here until the postseason for the No. 1 ranked Kansas Jayhawks.

Since last week, KU has taken down Texas and Oklahoma on Senior Night. It was a pretty emotional night for senior guard Frank Mason III, who capped off his Allen Fieldhouse career with a victory over OU. Mason helped jumpstart a rally in the second half to lead Kansas to a 73-63 victory. As Mason walked off the floor one final time he shed some tears and was embraced by the coaches and players. After the game, Bill Self called Mason “the best guard I have ever coached.” Since then, even though Self said it himself, the topic has been up for debate…

Is Frank Mason the best point guard Self has coached?

For the sake of time I’m going to make a rule that the player had to play for Self for more than a year to qualify (sorry Deron Williams and Dee Brown).

Aaron Miles: 2001-2005

  • 1,183 points, 954 assists, 264 steals, 138 games played
  • Helped lead Kansas to back-to-back Final Fours
  • KU’s and the Big 12’s all-time leader in assists
  • Eighth in NCAA history in assists
  • Second all-time in steals at KU
  • Two time All-Big 12 selection (2004, 2005)

Mario Chalmers: 2005-2008

  • 1,341 points, 420 assists, 283 steals, 41% from three
  • Led Kansas to 2008 National Championship and was MOP of the Final Four
  • Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2007
  • Second all-time on KU’s steals list
  • 14th all-time on KU’s assists list
  • 28th all-time on KU’s scoring list
  • Three time All-Big 12 selection
  • No. 15 was retired in 2013

Sherron Collins: 2006-2010

  • 1,888 points, 552, assists, 145 steals, 37% from three
  • Helped Kansas to the 2008 National Championship
  • Consensus First Team All-American in 2010
  • Consensus Second Team All-American in 2009
  • Two time First Team All-Big 12 in 2009 and 2010
  • Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year in 2008
  • Fifth all-time on KU’s scoring list
  • Fourth all-time in three-pointers made with 232
  • Eight all-time on KU’s assists list

Tyshawn Taylor: 2008-2012

  • 1,580 points, 575 assists, 172 steals
  • Led Kansas to the 2012 Final Four
  • First Team All-Big 12 in 2012
  • Big 12 All-Rookie Team in 2009
  • Third Team All-American in 2012
  • 15th all-time on KU’s scoring list
  • Sixth all-time on KU’s assists list

Frank Mason III: 2013-2017

  • 1,740 points, 537 assists, 159 steals, 42% from three
  • Led Kanas to four straight Big 12 titles
  • Two time Second Team All-Big 12 in 2015 and 2016
  • Big 12 All-Defensive Team in 2016
  • 2017 Semifinalist for the Naismith National Player of the Year
  • 12th all-time on KU’s scoring list, just 58 points behind Perry Ellis for eighth all-time
  •  10th all-time in three-pointers made, 10 behind Mario Chalmers for seventh all-time
  • Ninth all-time in assists, 15 behind Sherron Collins for eighth all-time

So there ya have it, the top point guards under Self. To me, its really a two-man race between Mason and Collins. Chalmers would have had a chance if he stayed his senior year, but he didn’t. Mason and Collins are pretty similar players. Both are exceptional shooters, can get to rim, distribute, make plays and had that bulldog mentality. Collins was an consensus All-American and because of that will most certainly have his number hung up in Allen Fieldhouse one day. There is a better than good chance Mason will follow in the same footsteps. If he is not a consensus All-American this year, there is certainly something wrong with the system.

The slight edge Collins has over Mason is that he does have that National Title, but Mason isn’t done yet. If Mason can have a magical March and lead the Jayhawks to a championship, I’d have to put him above Collins. And even if he doesn’t, I still might lead towards Mason.

Power Conferences Player of the Year Picks

  • Big 12: Frank Mason (Kansas) – Do I need to explain why?
  • Big East: Josh Hart (Villanova) – Similar to Mason in that he’s one of the main reasons why Villanova is as good as they are. He does it all for them, as he leads ‘Nova in scoring and rebounding. He’s also second in steals and assists.
  • Big Ten: Caleb Swanigan (Purdue) – Same applies here as it does for the Big 12 and Big East, there really is no other choice. Swanigan is having a massive year, as he’s led the Boilers to the Big Ten crown. Anyone who tries to make a case for Ethan Happ of Wisconsin should stop.
  • ACC: Bonzie Colson (Notre Dame) – Admittedly, I’m exposed to Colson more than anyone else in the league, but his name being here is still warranted. At 6’5″, he leads the ACC in double-doubles and rebounds. He’s in the top 10 in six stat categories in the ACC, including offensive and defensive rebounding, scoring, FG%, FT% and blocked shots. What is so impressive is that he repeatedly is going up against guys who are five to six inches taller and he still produces. I have my doubts about him winning it, because Justin Jackson of UNC and Luke Kennard of Duke are top candidates as well, and I just don’t seeing a UNC or Duke player not winning it if they are a finalist.
  • Pac 12: Lonzo Ball (UCLA) – Ball has led a resurgence of the UCLA program this season. He’s averaging 15.0 points per game, 7.2 assists per game, which leads the nation, and Ball is shooting 42% from beyond the arc. A case for Dillon Brooks of Oregon or Lauri Markkanen of Arizona could be made as well.
  • SEC: Malik Monk (Kentucky) – Monk is an elite scorer. He leads the ‘Cats in scoring at 21.2 PPG. He’s also just 3.1 FG% points away from becoming the first freshman since 1993 to averaging 20+ PPG, shoot 50% from the floor, 40% from three, and 80% from the line.

Games to watch this weekend

  • No. 1 Kansas @ Oklahoma State – OK State has won 10 of 12 and is one of the hottest teams in the country. They are one of my sleeper teams to watch in the tournament. They have great guard play with Juwan Evans and they can shoot the lights out. Kansas has traditionally not played well in Stillwater under Self, and with this game meaning virtually zero for KU, I’m leaning towards the Pokes in this one.
  • No. 17 Duke @ No. 5 North Carolina – There’s a ton on the line here in the fiercest rivalry in college basketball. With a win UNC can clinch the ACC Title outright. If Duke wins, then chaos could occur in regards to seeding in the ACC Tournament. Duke won the first matchup in Cameron, I find it hard to see them pulling off the sweep.
  • No.19 Notre Dame @ No. 8 Louisville – Surprisingly, if Notre Dame can win and UNC can lose, they will share the ACC crown with the Tar Heels. Louisville needs to win here to clinch a double bye in the ACC tourney. The KFC Yum! Center is pretty tough place to win, so I’m going with the Cards here. With that said, whenever you start to doubt Mike Brey and the Irish, thats when they tend to deliver.
  • No. 25 Miami @ No. 15 Florida State – Another game that will decide seeding in the ACC tourney. Florida State is an extremely different and better team at home. I’m going with the ‘Noles big.

#AskRCB

Another great question from our loyal reader Matthew. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword in my opinion, and Bill Self even talked about this at his press conference on Thursday. Its great that this group has never panicked and has been able to overcome some huge obstacles and deficits this season, but at the same time they keeping putting themselves in these situations where they have to come back.

It’d be great to see Kansas blow everyone out by 20 and cruise to victories, but I’m not terribly upset that this team has played and won close games because now they have plenty of experience doing so. Thats one thing about that 2015 Kentucky team that went 38-1. When they trailed vs. Wisconsin in the Final Four, that was one of the first times they had faced adversity that year and they crumbled because they had no experience handling it. That experience will be valuable for KU when it comes to the NCAA Tournament because more times than not they’ll be playing a close game.

So short answer to your question, yes it will be a factor, but it will factor in positively rather than negatively.

Self had more to speak on the matter, so check out his press conference because he had some interesting things to say.

KU is losing Mason, Landen Lucas and most likely Josh Jackson. Theres also the chance they lose Graham, but lets say he stays.

They’ll be gaining back a healthy Udoka Azubuike, freshmen Billy Preston and Marcus Garrett and transfers Malik Newman and Sam Cunliffe. So that will be five, and most likely six because they’ll pick up another recruit, to place three guys.

They should be loaded up front with Azubuike, Preston, Carlton Bragg Jr., Dwight Coleby, Mitch Lightfoot. That’s a pretty good mix right there. In the back court, they’ll have Graham, Garrett, Newman, Cunliffe, Svi, and Vick. That is a pretty deep team right there, but the deepest teams don’t always win the title. It’s usually the team with the 7-8 man rotation.

On ITP, Ryan has discussed this team and how he doesn’t want them in KU’s bracket, and I’m going to echo him a bit and say Duke. They’re so talented and have one of the best coaches in history manning the sideline, and coaching means something in March.

Any level huh? This is going to be hard because even the guys the guys who didn’t play in the NBA or the D-League ended up in Europe for a period of time. One of these guys probably played in some obscure league where he made $100 dollars per game, so I apologize if one these guys technically played professionally.

PG – Jeff Hawkins
G – Tyrel Reed
G – Rodrick Stewart
F – Christian Moody
F – Moulaye Niang

I’ve always thought that conference tournaments were a bit pointless. They are pretty much a last gasp for bubble teams and teams jockeying for seeding. The only conference tournament that really is a big deal, and thats cause they make it a big deal, is the ACC Tournament. The Big East tourney used to be before everyone left.

The regular season crown is much more satisfying, especially in the Big 12 where you playing everyone twice. In the conference tournament anything can happen, anyone can get hot and win. It doesn’t mean as much in my opinion.

There is only one of two ways a one-and-done gets his jersey retired. First, he has just an unreal season, like averages 30 points, 15 boards, 7 assists, and leads his team to National Title. The second way is if he goes on to the NBA and becomes the next Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant and just makes a huge impact on the game. Other than those two ways I don’t see them getting their jerseys retired.

All right folks, thats it for this weeks edition of Friday Mornings with Bob. Make sure to check in next week, as I’ll have more on KU’s final regular season game as well as the Big 12 tournament. Also, keep sending in your #AskRCB questions. Have a great week everybody. Rock Chalk!

Bobby Norell is a contributor for Rock Chalk Blog. View his archive, or follow him on Twitter.

Bobby Norell

My name is Bobby Norell. I'm from a small town in northern Indiana. I grew up a Notre Dame fan, as many of my family members graduated from there. I attend every home football game, and my fair share of basketball games. My Kansas fandom is something I brought upon myself when I was little. Around the time I was in first grade, Kirk Hinrich was leading Kansas to back-to-back Final Fours. I loved Hinrich those KU teams, and ever since they I've been hooked on Kansas basketball. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Sport Communication. Even though my diploma says I'm a Hoosier, my love for the Jayhawks has never wavered. They'll always come No.1. I'm excited for the opportunity here at Rock Chalk Blog. I hope to provide you with some thoughtful and informational analysis. Aside from my work here, you can catch some of my work at OneFootDown.com on SB Nation. There I cover Notre Dame football and basketball, as well as a little recruiting.