The last thing Mario Chalmers wanted to do was travel with his teammates at Bartlett High all the way to Springfield, MO from their home in Anchorage, AK to lose three games. Unfortunately, that’s how things unfolded for Bartlett during last weekend’s trip to Springfield for the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.
“It was a rough trip,” said Chalmers. “I think we’re looking forward to getting home and regrouping.”
That isn’t to say that the trip didn’t involve some positives. It gave Chalmers and his teammates a chance to play against more competition than they usually see at home and they couldn’t help but feel the fan support they received. Chalmers and company had been told that the locals supported the event very well, that wasn’t a surprise.
However, the number of fans showing up in Kansas shirts and hats to support a future Jayhawk was a bit unexpected.
“There’s a lot of Kansas fans here who have showed their support,” Chalmers told Phog.Net. “I was a little surprised at first. It made me feel great and it gives me a little taste of next year when I’m at Kansas.”
Chalmers did his best to return the favor by giving fans a glimpse at what to expect when he enrolls at Kansas. He thrilled onlookers with several dunks, deep threes and creative passes off of dribble drives. It wasn’t a completely vintage Chalmers display, but it was certainly enough to give Jayhawk fans a taste of what he’s capable of.
If his play can be judged by the long lines of well-wishers and children who waited for post game autographs or handshakes from the 6-2 guard, things went pretty well.
“It’s just a great feeling that there are people out there who care enough about what I’m doing that they’ll wait to ask for an autograph or shake my hand,” said Chalmers of the support. “It’s great preparation for next year because there will probably be even more of this in Lawrence.”
Ideally, Chalmers sees himself as a guard who can pass like Aaron Miles and score like Jarrett Jack. He knows that it will take a lot of hard work to attain the levels that those two point guards have reached in their college careers, but he’s willing to put in the work.
“I’m just getting stronger and getting more focused for next year,” said Chalmers of his preparation for college. “Everything surrounding you changes in college and I just need to work on everything with my game, all the way around.”
As expected, Chalmers is keeping a very close eye on this year’s edition of the Jayhawks and is proud of their undefeated start. He’s hopeful that they can keep the pace up for the rest of the season and is looking forward to how he’ll fit in next year.
“It’s going great for them right now they just need to keep it up and keep working hard to try and win the championship,” said Chalmers. “I see myself fitting in great next year. I’m just going to do whatever coach Self wants me to do.
“I think me and Russell (Robinson) will rotate between the guard spots. Sometimes I’ll play point and sometimes off the ball, whichever one of us gets it can just go.”
Although he isn’t completely engrossed by it, Chalmers does admit that he takes an occasional look at the Internet. He likes to keep up with Kansas and occasionally takes a look at what those who do rankings and fans say about his play. He’s also well aware that he’s been the subject of some criticism by people have questioned his on court demeanor.
For his part, Chalmers takes it all in stride and tries to make any negatives into positives.
“I get that a lot,” said a smiling Chalmers about criticism on the net. “I don’t take it too seriously, it just makes me want to go out there and prove myself. I want to show that I can play and have fun.”
Other than winning a state championship, Chalmers main goal on the high school level is to be named a McDonald’s All-American. If he makes it, there is one player in particular he’ll be looking to test himself against before he heads off to college.