The 2011-12 edition of the Kansas Jayhawks started the season in the familiar position of replacing a slew of NBA-bound talent. Kansas has produced 57 future pros in a glorious basketball history that has included three national titles and a mind-boggling 54 conference championships.
Even with all that outgoing talent, Kansas has reloaded again with point guard Tyshawn Taylor at the forefront. The hard-driving senior is a safe bet to crack the school’s top 10 in assists by the time he’s done.
Herein, a closer look at Taylor and the rest of the 50 greatest players ever to wear a Jayhawk uniform.
For such a high-profile program, Kansas has had surprisingly few one-and-dones on its rosters.
Xavier Henry almost certainly left school too early, but he did put up solid numbers (13.4 points a game, 41.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc) in his lone season in Lawrence.
A lottery pick of the Grizzlies, Henry didn’t get many minutes in Memphis’ crowded backcourt.
He did score 4.3 points a game when he got on the floor, though he also established convincingly that he’s not yet able to hit the NBA three-pointer (2-for-17 from long range).
An athletic swingman who averaged as many as 7.3 rebounds a game, Kenny Gregory did most of his damage as a scorer. His 1,555 career points rank him 15th in Jayhawk history, a total that included a career best of 15.6 points a night as a senior.
Undrafted out of Kansas, Gregory did get a brief look in the D-League. He averaged just 4.7 points a game in his lone season with the Greenville Groove.
Although Mark Turgeon was an appalling shooter who never scored more than five points a game at Kansas, he made his mark as a distributor. Turgeon’s 437 career assists—largely recorded off the bench—are the 12th-best total in Jayhawk history.
Although Turgeon went undrafted and never played in the NBA, he found a career in basketball nonetheless. He’s won more than 250 games as a college head coach, and he’s currently in his first year at Maryland after taking over for the legendary Gary Williams.
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Although he played just two full seasons at Kansas, 7’0” Paul Mokeski established himself as a player who could control the paint. His 680 career boards rank him 15th in school history, and he also blocked 136 shots as a Jayhawk.
Fortunately for Mokeski, the NBA of the ‘80s had bushels of jobs for second-rate backup centers as long as they were seven feet tall.
He lasted a dozen seasons in the league (with five teams, most notably the Bucks) despite career averages of four points and 3.4 rebounds a game.
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A 6’6” shooting guard who knew how to get to the rim, Tony Guy finished his Kansas career with 1,488 points. His length served him well on defense, too, as he grabbed 161 steals, tied for 12th in program history.
Guy became a second-round draft pick of the Celtics, but Boston was a tough roster to crack in the ‘80s. He never played in the NBA.
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After three seasons of unfulfilled potential, Tyshawn Taylor has stepped up as a first-class point guard as a senior. His career total of 466 assists is closing in on 10th place in school history with half a season yet to play.
Taylor is also scoring a personal-best 14.7 points a game and has KU in the thick of the Big 12 title hunt. A strong finish might even give him a chance to help the Jayhawks make their first Final Four appearance of his career.
A first-rate combo guard at 6’3”, Kevin Pritchard piled up 499 career assists in Lawrence. He wasn’t half-bad as a scorer, either, scoring 1,692 points (the 11th-highest total for a Jayhawk).
A second-round pick of the Warriors, Pritchard never managed to earn much playing time in the NBA. He played parts of four seasons in the league, averaging 3.6 points in 12 minutes a night.
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The low-post counterweight to the three-guard lineup of the 2008 national champs, Darrell Arthur posted 20 points and 10 boards in the title-game win over Memphis.
His performance capped a sophomore season in which he averaged 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds a night.
Arthur scored a career-high 9.1 points a game for the Grizzlies last year. Unfortunately, an offseason Achilles tendon tear will keep him out of action until 2012-13.
A benchwarmer on the 1952 national champs, B.H. Born was charged with the unenviable task of replacing superstar Clyde Lovellette at center the following season.
All he did was average 18.9 points a game and help take the Jayhawks back to the national title game, recording the first (unofficial) triple-double in school history in the loss to Indiana: 26 points, 15 boards and 13 blocks.
Born’s college heroics made him a first-round draft selection of the Pistons. However, he never played in the NBA.
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A transfer from Cal, SG Jerod Haase acted as the glue guy on some of the most talent-rich teams in Jayhawk history.
He scored (15.6 points a game in his best season), rebounded (3.8 boards a night for his career) and played plenty of defense, recording 174 steals to rank 11th in program history.
Undrafted out of Kansas, Haase never played in the NBA. He’s found more success in coaching, and he’s currently an assistant under his old coach, Roy Williams, at North Carolina.
In three seasons after transferring from Wichita State, Greg Dreiling established himself as a solid all-around center who keyed a Final Four run for the Jayhawks in 1986.
He averaged as many as 13.1 points and 6.9 rebounds a game as a junior, and his 138 career blocks are tied for 10th-most in school history.
Like so many seven-footers, Dreiling lasted far longer as a pro than his productivity warranted. He never averaged better than 3.5 points or 3.5 rebounds per game, yet he warmed NBA benches for 10 seasons (mostly in Indiana).
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Sadly overshadowed in the long line of great Kansas post players, 6’8” Mark Randall helped lead the Jayhawks to the 1991 national title game.
His career totals of 1,627 points and 723 rebounds both rank in the school’s top 15 all time, and he holds the Jayhawk record with an absurd career field goal percentage of 62.0.
A first-round pick of the Bulls, Randall didn’t even last long enough in Chicago to bask in Michael Jordan’s glory years. Over parts of four NBA seasons, he averaged just 2.6 points and 1.3 rebounds a game.
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A pure scorer as a 6’3” shooting guard, JoJo White’s worst average in three full seasons in Lawrence was 14.8 points a game. As a senior, he averaged 4.7 rebounds a game to go along with a career-high 18.1 points.
White took his game to another level entirely after being drafted by the Boston Celtics. He made seven consecutive All-Star games, averaging as many as 23.1 points and 1.6 steals a game and winning a pair of championship rings in Boston.
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A slender 6’9” center, Donnie Von Moore used his length to pull down 6.5 rebounds a night as a senior. He was also adept at swatting shots, racking up 147 career rejections to place ninth in program history.
Von Moore, who never scored more than 10.7 points a game in Lawrence, went undrafted out of KU. He never played in the NBA.
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Built like a shooting guard at 6’5”, Ryan Robertson proved to be a first-rate floor leader. Robertson’s 485 career assists are the 10th-highest total in KU history.
A second-round pick of the Kings, Robertson didn’t exactly shine at the NBA level. He played just one game in his pro career, recording five points and no assists.
Cole Aldrich was only a decent scorer—especially for a 6’11” center—but his real job was to play the enforcer in the middle for Bill Self’s teams.
Aldrich snagged 860 career rebounds, ninth-most in school history, and ranks second on Kansas’ charts with 253 career blocks.
A lottery pick of the Hornets, Aldrich was immediately shipped to Oklahoma City as part of the Morris Peterson trade. He’s barely left the bench for the Thunder, playing 23 games and averaging 1.1 points and 1.7 rebounds a game in his career to date.
Undersized for a power forward at 6’6”, Alonzo Jamison was a key defensive presence for the 1991 national runners-up. Jamison’s 175 career steals are the 10th-highest total in Kansas history.
Jamison was never much of a shot, averaging 10.4 points a game in his best season. Unsurprisingly, he went undrafted and never played in the NBA.
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6’11” center Walt Wesley was a terrific scorer who averaged 19.3 points a game for his Kansas career. He was pretty good on the glass as well, tying for ninth in school history with 8.3 rebounds a game.
Wesley was mostly a backup in the NBA, averaging 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds a game for his career. He did have one outstanding season with the expansion Cavaliers, leading the team with 17.7 points and 8.7 boards a night.
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A 6’7” swingman of no particular scoring ability, Nick Bradford earned a starting job in Lawrence by playing outstanding D. Bradford’s 187 career steals are the eighth-most in Jayhawk history.
Without an offensive game to speak of, Bradford had little appeal to the NBA. He went undrafted and never played in the league.
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Although he didn’t start until his senior season, Billy Thomas could always be counted on for a scoring spark off the Jayhawk bench. In four seasons in Lawrence, he drained 269 three-pointers, the second-best total in school history.
Undrafted out of Kansas, Thomas got an NBA shot six years later in New Jersey. In three seasons with as many different teams, he played a total of 53 games and shot just .304 from three-point range.
The defensive anchor for the 2008 national champs, Sasha Kaun was a force under the basket. His 150 blocked shots are the eighth-most for a Jayhawk all-time.
Kaun snuck into the draft as a late second-round pick of the Sonics, but never played in an NBA game. A native of Tomsk, he’s currently playing in Russia.
After two years on the Kansas bench, Milt Newton developed into a first-rate scorer at small forward and a key contributor to the 1988 national champs.
Newton averaged 17.7 points a game as a senior while capping his school record by shooting 44.6 percent from the three-point line for his career.
Newton’s 6’4” height proved to be an insuperable obstacle to his NBA hopes. He went undrafted and never played in the league.
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A gritty power forward who averaged as many as 5.4 rebounds a game in Lawrence, John Crawford was even better on defense. Despite standing just 6’7”, Crawford blocked 155 shots, the seventh-best total for a Jayhawk all-time.
Crawford’s lack of length didn’t help his draft position any, and he slid all the way to the seventh round back when there was such a thing. He never played in the NBA.
Northwestern transfer Rex Walters played just two seasons for KU, but as a senior in 1992-93. he keyed a Final Four run for the Jayhawks.
Sharing ball-handling duties with backcourt mate Adonis Jordan, Walters averaged 15.6 points and 4.1 assists a game in Lawrence while setting a school record by shooting 84.9 percent from the foul line for his career.
A waste of a first-round pick for the Nets, Walters did prove to be a competent NBA backup for seven seasons. He averaged as many as 6.8 points a game off the bench while hitting 36.1 percent of his career three-point tries.
Although Keith Langford was nothing special as a pure shooter, he was still a superior scorer as a 6’4” SG. He topped 14 points per game in three of his four seasons in Lawrence, finishing with 1,812 career points (seventh-most in Kansas history).
Langford went undrafted out of KU, but caught on in the D-League. He eventually got a call-up to the NBA with the Spurs, but played just two games—and a total of 10 minutes—in the league.
A 6’9” power forward with superior fundamentals, Wayne Simien averaged 20.3 points and 11 rebounds a game as a senior. His 1,593 points rank 13th in Jayhawk history, and he stands seventh on the school’s charts with 884 career boards.
As skilled as he was, Simien didn’t have the above-the-rim athleticism to stick in the NBA. He averaged just 3.3 points a game over parts of two seasons with the Heat, though he did get a championship ring as a rookie.
A bruising power forward with an underrated scoring touch, Drew Gooden amassed 1,526 points at Kansas. His 905 rebounds are the sixth-highest total in program history.
The well-traveled Gooden has been a more effective pro than his nine NBA stops would suggest. He’s averaged as many as 14.4 point and 9.2 rebounds a game, and is still going strong as a Buck in his 10th NBA season.
Adonis Jordan was a dangerous scorer for a 5’11” point guard, averaging as many as 12.8 points a game while leading the Jayhawks to a pair of Final Four appearances.
In his career, Jordan grabbed 181 steals, the ninth-best figure all-time at KU, and dished out 568 assists (sixth).
Jordan was picked in the second round of the draft, but never got much of a shot from the NBA. He played a total of 10 games with the Nuggets and Bucks, though he did dish out 3.2 assists a night in limited minutes.
Although Jeff Boschee was a dangerous defender who racked up 161 steals for the Jayhawks, he was more noteworthy for his accomplishments on the offensive end.
Boschee averaged double-digit points all four years in Lawrence, and his 338 career three-pointers are a school record by a wide margin.
As dangerous a long-range shooter as he was, Boschee wasn’t much for creating his own scoring opportunities. He went undrafted and never played in the NBA.
Although Mario Chalmers got more press, Russell Robinson established himself as an outstanding floor general in his own right while helping KU capture the 2008 national title.
Robinson's 500 career assists are eighth-most in Kansas history, and his 247 steals place him fifth on that list.
Undrafted out of school, Robinson landed in the D-League. He played well in two seasons there—including averages of 16.3 points and 4.7 assists a night in 2009-10—but has yet to get the call from the NBA and is currently playing in Europe.
A leader on the 1971 Final Four squad that fell to UCLA, Dave Robisch was a 6’10” center with a great shooting touch.
He ranks ninth in Kansas history with 1,754 points, and his 26.5 points per game as a junior are the fourth-best season for a Jayhawk all-time.
A third-round pick of the Celtics, Robisch headed to Denver in the ABA instead.
A standout in that league with averages as high as 16.3 points and 9.1 rebounds a game, Robisch became a solid NBA player after the merger in a pro career that lasted 13 seasons in all.
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For a 6’0” point guard, Cedric Hunter was a heck of a rebounder, pulling down 5.1 boards a game as a senior. What made him a star, though, was his passing, as he dished out 684 career assists—the third-best total in program history—and ran the offense for the Jayhawks 1986 Final Four squad.
Undrafted out of Kansas, Hunter got a 10-day contract with the Hornets four years later. However, he only played a single minute in his NBA career.
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High-flying 6’6” SF Brandon Rush was a key scoring threat for the 2008 national champs. Rush averaged 13 points a game in each of his three seasons as a Jayhawk, and his 205 career three-pointers are the fifth-most in school history.
After three solid years as a sometime starter in Indiana, Rush was traded to the Warriors over the offseason.
He’s been scoring his usual 8.6 points a game in a reserve role in Golden State this season and is even outperforming his stellar career average of .405 shooting from long range.
Although Scot Pollard posted three double-digit scoring averages as a Jayhawk, it was his defense that made him memorable. Pollard piled up 850 career rebounds (10th in school history) and 218 career blocks (fifth).
A career backup as a pro, Pollard was a force to be reckoned with off the bench. Over 11 seasons, most effectively in Sacramento, he averaged as many as 7.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.
At just 5’11”, Sherron Collins was as impressive a combo guard as Kansas has ever seen. He ranks seventh in school history with 552 assists and fifth with 1,888 points.
Collins played sparingly as a Bobcats reserve before being waived prior to last year’s trade deadline. He’s currently playing in Europe.
Eric Chenowith didn’t put a whole lot of points on the scoreboard for the Jayhawks, but he was a force on the interior all the same. Chenowith’s 933 rebounds are fifth-best in school history, while his 242 blocks place fourth.
Although he was a second-round pick of the Knicks, Chenowith never got closer to the NBA than the D-League. In three seasons there, he averaged as many as 9.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
A leader on a pair of Final Four squads, Kirk Hinrich was one of the most versatile guards ever to play for KU.
He evolved from a brilliant distributor who finished fourth in school history with 668 assists to a primary scoring option who drained 236 career treys (third-most for a Jayhawk).
Injuries have started to slow Hinrich down—he has yet to appear for the Hawks this season—but he’s had an enviable career as an NBA combo guard. In his prime with the Bulls, he averaged as many as 16.6 points and 6.8 assists per game.
Aptly named at 6’8”, Wayne Hightower was an unstoppable force at the college level. His career averages of 21.3 points and 10.8 rebounds per game are each the third-highest in Kansas history.
Hightower became an unspectacular NBA forward, teaming with fellow Jayhawk alum Wilt Chamberlain as a Warrior for a few years.
He had more success when he jumped to the ABA, making an All-Star team with Denver and averaging as many as 18.1 points and 9.4 rebounds a night.
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Although he was one of the least graceful centers basketball has ever seen, 7’2”, 280-lb Greg Ostertag made his size count. His 770 rebounds rank him 13th in Jayhawk history, and he holds the school record with 258 blocks.
Ostertag spent almost all of his 11 NBA seasons with the Jazz, who drafted him in Round 1.
He bounced between the starting lineup and the bench for the best of the Stockton-Malone teams, averaging only 4.6 points per game for his career but posting as many as 7.4 boards and 2.7 blocks a night in his best seasons.
Mario Chalmers’ buzzer-beating three-pointer in the national championship game was the iconic moment of the 2008 title run for the Jayhawks.
Chalmers did pretty well for himself in his other games in Lawrence, averaging 12.2 points and 3.8 assists while finishing second in school history with 283 career steals.
The Heat haven’t seemed to be able to figure out quite what to do with Chalmers as a pro, as he’s bounced in and out of the starting lineup in his three-plus seasons.
Still, he looks like he’ll be a valuable supporting player for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade as they try to get Miami over the championship hump.
As versatile as Paul Pierce’s athleticism made him, he’s always been a scorer first and foremost. His 1,768 points are the eighth-best mark in Kansas history, and he averaged 20.4 points a night as a junior.
Now on the downside of his brilliant career at age 34, Pierce is still hoping for a shot at a second NBA title with the Celtics. From 2000-07, he averaged at least 21.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game every year, making five All-Star appearances in that span.
A classic pass-first point guard, Jacque Vaughn never averaged under 5.2 assists per game as a Jayhawk. His 7.7 assists a night as a sophomore are still a school record, and he stands second in program history with 804 assists for his career.
Vaughn went on to a fine NBA career as a backup point guard. In 12 pro seasons (most notably with the Jazz), he averaged as many as 4.3 assists per game.
Raef LaFrentz made the most of his 6’11” frame to become a top-notch center for the Jayhawks. He averaged as many as 19.8 points a game, and his 1,186 career rebounds are just one shy of the school record.
LaFrentz unexpectedly developed a lethal three-point shot as a pro, twice draining more than 100 treys in a season. Over a 10-year pro career (most effectively with the Nuggets), he averaged as many as 7.9 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game.
He didn’t have the NCAA tournament success of the greats who followed him, but Darnell Valentine did everything else you’d ask of an elite point guard.
His 609 assists are the fifth-highest total in Kansas history, he holds the school record with 336 career steals (53 ahead of second place) and he even scored 1,821 points (sixth on the Jayhawks' charts).
Valentine was never a star at the pro level, but at his best, he was a fine NBA point guard. In his prime with Portland (where he was drafted in the first round), he averaged as many as 12.5 points and seven assists a night.
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Although he stood just 6’6”, Bill Bridges was a world-class rebounder and defender as a power forward. He was the first Jayhawk to record 1,000 rebounds, and his career average of 13.9 boards a night is second only to Wilt Chamberlain’s.
Bridges was just as successful in the NBA, dominating on the glass and making three All-Star appearances with the Hawks.
He recorded as many as 17.4 points and 15.1 rebounds a game, and his career average of 11.9 boards a night is in the top 20 in NBA history.
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6’9” center Clyde Lovellette carried Kansas to the first national title in school history in 1952. His 839 rebounds were a school record when he graduated, and his 1,979 points are still good for fourth on the Jayhawks’ charts.
Lovellette won three NBA titles as a backup, one as a rookie behind George Mikan with the Lakers and two as an aging veteran behind Bill Russell in Boston.
In between, he compiled a Hall-of-Fame career of his own, averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds in five different seasons for the Lakers, Hawks and Cincinnati Royals (now the Kings).
A fearsome interior presence on two Final Four teams for KU, 6’9” Nick Collison would be the greatest post player in the history of a lot of college programs.
He blocked 243 shots (third-most in school history), grabbed 1,143 rebounds (also third) and scored 2,097 points (second).
Collison has spent his entire career with the Thunder franchise, bouncing between the starting lineup and the bench.
Although he didn’t approach his career highs of 9.8 points and 9.4 rebounds a game last season, his performance off the bench last year was his first chance to contribute to a real contender in his seven NBA seasons.
The floor leader for a pair of Final Four squads at Kansas, Aaron Miles is one of the most successful point guards ever to play college basketball.
His 264 steals are third-most at Kansas all-time, and his school-record 954 career assists rank eighth in Division I history.
Miles had a cup of coffee with the Warriors as a rookie, dishing out 1.3 assists per game in a mere 6.2 minutes a night. He spent part of last season in the D-League, averaging 15.1 points and an eye-popping 8.8 assists a game for the Reno Bighorns.
The hero of Kansas’ underdog national champions in 1988, Danny Manning is the greatest college player ever to step onto the court for Kansas.
The 6’10” forward is sixth in school history in blocks (200) and fourth in steals (250), and he holds the KU records with 1,187 rebounds and a breathtaking 2,951 points.
Manning couldn’t rescue the floundering Clippers franchise after they drafted him No. 1 overall, but he proved to be an outstanding NBA forward who made a pair of All-Star appearances for L.A.
In a 15-year pro career, he averaged as many as 22.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
Although he played just two seasons at Kansas, Wilt Chamberlain made an indelible mark as the most dominant player in Jayhawk history.
He posted school-record averages of 29.9 points and 18.3 rebounds a game for his career while leading KU to a narrow defeat in history’s greatest NCAA title game (the 1957 triple-OT heartbreaker against undefeated North Carolina).
Of course, Chamberlain’s college brilliance was just a prelude to his incomparable NBA career.
On the short list of the best centers ever to play the game, the Big Dipper holds the all-time records with 50.4 points a game for a season, 100 points in a game and 1,045 games without fouling out once.