Wild Draft Night For Jayhawks

Well, in the end five Jayhawks were drafted – just like head coach Bill Self thought. But the night in New York City didn't exactly go as planned.

This one was wild. It was quite a night for the Kansas Jayhawks in the Big Apple. Buckle up if you didn’t see it. We’ll take you through it step-by-step.

Brandon Rush hit the lottery and was the first KU player to be taken by the Portland Trailblazers at 13 proving Rush’s stock had risen during the last month. But in an attention-grabbing proposed trade, Rush’s rights were said to be going to the Indiana Pacers. Now here’s where it gets interesting. The Pacers are where brother Kareem resides and plays the same position. A few mock drafts showed the Pacers were interested in Rush at 11, but the Pacers drafted Arizona point guard Jerryd Bayless. Pending NBA approval Rush will in fact be part of Larry Bird’s organization. Bird cannot comment on the proposed trade and called it “purely speculation”. Ok, ok. You can pretend you don’t know but WE know Rush will likely be in Indiana.

That was just the beginning for a topsy-turvy night for a crop of Kansas Jayhawks.

Darrell Arthur, once assumed a lottery pick, became the last man in the green room. It’s a dreaded spot to be in…cameras on you as frustration grows - and you could see it on Shady’s face - he became a focal point for analysts to discuss. It’s a nightmare position to be in. After the lottery concluded you thought maybe Washington (the last team he worked out for) at the 18th pick, but no. How could someone as talented as Arthur slide this far? This it the point when you’re in the 20’s that you know something is terribly wrong. Then ESPN’s Ric Bucher brought up a test that revealed some kind of mysterious kidney issue. Ahhhh….now we’re getting down to it.

Finally, the New Orleans Hornets, the same team that drafted Julian Wright, took KU’s talented sophomore with the 27th pick of the draft. Whew!! A collective sigh of relief went up but the health rumors clearly hurt Arthur’s wallet.  

Later it was revealed that Arthur had another blood test that ended up normal in Washington. But somehow word did not reach other teams that had Arthur on their draft boards. Something Bill Self was extremely disappointed in after the draft.

“Word did not get down to other teams that the test was normal and they were still going on a previous test,” Self continued. If that’s the case, then somebody clearly dropped the ball which would be very disappointing because that cost him a lot of money.”

“I thought the teams throughout the night they’d love to take him but they can’t because of this health issue and they couldn’t confirm that he was ok yet.”

This was just the beginning of a crazy night for the Dallas native. Now, after waiting what seemed like an eternity, Arthur’s rights were said to be traded to Portland. But on a conference call later, it was revealed by Self that Arthur might in fact be going to Portland but better not unpack his bags. He was trailblazing alright, but the final word was that there could possibly be a trade that would send Shady to Houston. Nothing is confirmed but Self shared a rumor he received via text message that said that Portland may not be last stop. Standby as this story continues to develop over the next few days.

Self did mention regardless of what happens playing in Houston with Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady could be a great fit for Shady and that whoever gets him as the 27th pick is getting a top ten talent.

Then came Mario Chalmers saga. KU’s national championship hero opted to keep his name in the draft when first round fame seemed a sure thing. After being projected as high as the lottery in recent days in mock drafts, the first round came and went. When the last pick of round one featured a former KU player (J.R. Giddens) and not a current one, the mood in the Chalmers camp was not good.

“When that 30th pick came there’s no doubt I was hoping it would be Mario,” Self added and did mention that he was happy for Giddens. “because when it came down to the end I was really hurting for him knowing that he was told he would be drafted in a certain area and it just didn’t work out that way.”

Mario was was forced to wait until the 34th pick of the draft (4th pick of round two), and was chosen by the Timberwolves.

“I am surprised based on the feedback that Ronnie (Chalmers), Mario, and his agent gave us of where he would go,” Self admitted. “It is very disappointing that a guy with eligibility left would fall to the second round. I’m sure he’s disappointed”

But there is no time for second-guessing and when Self was asked about Mario’s decision he refused to question it. In the end Self feels like the Timberwolves are a good fit. Oh wait, did I say T-Wolves? I meant the Miami Heat. Yes, that’s right Mario’s rights are said to be going to South Beach.

“I think he went to a great team, a team he can make and have an impact. Although very disappointing tonight, it think in the long run it can turn out ok for him,” said Self.

Next it was Darnell Jackson, who thought he might be an early second round pick but Jackson was taken 52nd in the second round by the Miami Heat. At the end of the night, he was the easiest KU player to track, and it appears he and Mario will reunite in South Florida.

Sasha Kaun just signed a contract to play in Russia and will make more than any KU player for the next two seasons in all likelihood. Sasha will be overseas in his homeland for at least two years but his rights on draft night went to Seattle four picks after his teammate Jackson. Ahh…but on a conference call after the draft Sasha informed a bunch of surprised writers that his rights will in fact go to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Russian’s reaction…

“It’s awesome”, said Kaun enthusiastically. “I worked out for them and had a lot of fun and it’s a good opportunity for me.”

Kaun said he will definitely play in Russia at least two years and then will definitely consider coming back to the states. Sasha will leave for his home country on Sunday with his focus on making the Olympic team.  

So after a whirlwind night a record-tying five Kansas Jayhawks were taken, but four of them were traded, which has to be some of other type of record. It was so confusing that on a conference call after several of us had to ask for clarification of who was in fact on what team.

Self watched the draft at home with the players and family and spoke about mixed emotions after.

“I’m happy for our guys,” Self told reporters after. “I was a little disappointed that a couple of them fell past where they were told they would go and that’s always disappointing.”

A notable member of KU’s national championship squad who’s name was not called on Thursday night, New York’s own Russell Robinson. Robinson avoided the whirlwind his teammates went through and will have to make an NBA roster via a different route.

In fact, Robinson may be better off being undrafted and having the flexibility and ability to tryout for several different NBA teams rather than be locked into one franchise.

The NBDL and playing overseas will also be options for Robinson if he doesn’t make an NBA roster.

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