Kansas Basketball: The Most Underrated Players in Jayhawks History
The University of Kansas basketball program has piled up 2,076 all-time wins, 55 conference titles, five national titles and 58 First-Team All-Americans. Therefore, they surely have produced plenty of star power, but what about the less heralded, underrated players?
Role players and less media-infatuated players have played crucial roles in each of those 2,076 wins, as players such as Russell Robinson, Milt Newton and Ryan Robertson routinely propelled the Jayhawks to victories.
How is a player tapped as underrated?
Underrated Jayhawks are oftentimes overshadowed by future NBA draft picks, eccentric players or an underachieving team, as was occasionally the case with those three players.
As the Jayhawks faithful have seen Kevin Young and Jamari Traylor, among others, provide a spark thus far this season, we will take a look at the most underrated players in Kansas basketball history.
Milt Newton (1984-89)
The 1987-88 Kansas basketball team was not expected to contend for a national title, and upon completing the title-winning run as a No. 5 seed, Danny Manning received most of the publicity, but small forward Milt Newton played an enormous role.
As an excellent perimeter shooter (45-percent career three-point shooter), he relieved much pressure off the frontcourt.
Kevin Pritchard (1986-90)
Another member of the 1988 'Danny and the Miracles' team, Kevin Pritchard played at guard alongside Newton with a very well-rounded game. He ranks in the Top 15 in Kansas history in career assists and points.
Adonis Jordan (1989-93)
Adonis Jordan led Kansas to two Final Four appearances as one of the greatest scoring point guards in school history. He averaged 10.0 points, 4.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game for his four-year career, three as a starter.
Sash Kaun (2005-08)
A slow start to the 2007-08 season for Sasha Kaun further put the Kansas role player on the back burner in favor of star power in Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers and others.
However, Kaun's strong finish in conference play and dominating performance in the NCAA tournament helped the Jayhawks win their first title in 20 years. His 150 career blocks rank as the eighth-best total in school history.
10. Ryan Robertson (1996-1999)
Ryan Robertson, a 6'5" shooting guard, stuffed the stat sheet as a senior when he averaged 12.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game, becoming one of the best passing 2-guards in school history along the way.
Early second-round NCAA tournament exits during his last two years hurt his legacy, but he remains arguably the best role player of the Roy Williams era.
9. Jeff Boschee (1998-2002)
With NBA scouts' eyes on teammates Wayne Simien, Drew Gooden, Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich, it is reasonable to be overlooked, as was the case with lights-out shooter Jeff Boschee.
He still holds the school record for most three-point buckets at 338, shooting 40 percent from long range for his career, but he also used timely lane penetration to open up passing lanes for his high-profile teammates.
Playing in 137 career games, Boschee averaged double-digit scoring in each of his four years, including a 13.4 clip during their Final Four season of 2002.
8. Walt Wesley (1963-1966)
Is it possible to be underrated as a two-time First-Team All-American center who towered over defenders at 6'11"?
Unfortunately, Walt Wesley occasionally gets lost in the crowd of great Kansas centers alongside Wilt Chamberlain and Clyde Lovellette, but a career average of 19.3 PPG speaks for itself.
He also ranks in the Top 10 in school history with 8.3 rebounds per game.
7. Russell Robinson (2004-2008)
Point guard Russell Robinson may have received the loudest ovation of 'New York, New York!' during his career, but on the court and in the locker room, Robinson was not as flashy or as media-attractive as teammates Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers or Darrell Arthur.
He seamlessly ran the Bill Self high-low offense, landing on the school's Top 10 career assist list, but he also played sound defense, with slick steals leading to easy transition buckets.
Robinson never averaged more than 9.3 PPG as a selectively efficient shooter, but he rebounded very well for a 6'1" point guard with good position and advantageous adjustments.
6. Keith Langford (2001-2005)
A 6'5" shooting guard from Fort Worth, Texas, Keith Langford instantly became a contributor as a freshman, averaging 20.9 minutes per game.
Despite a below-average perimeter shooting game, Langford still managed to shoot over 46 percent from the floor during each of his four years, including a 53-percent clip in the 2002-03 Final Four season.
His 1,812 points remain No. 7 on the KU all-time list, but he stuffed the stat sheet with rebounds (4.0 per game over his last four years) and assists (2.0 per game in same time).
Langford is one of the best four-year players in Kansas basketball history, but the 2003 title-game loss continues to haunt his legacy.
5. Mark Randall (1986-1991)
Big man Mark Randall at 6'8" recorded a staggering career field-goal percentage of 62, including two seasons over 64 percent.
He ranks in the program's Top 15 in both points in rebounds, with his best season coming in the national runner-up 1991 season, in which he averaged 15.0 PPG and 6.2 RPG.
Like Langford, Randall's legacy is hindered by that title-game loss. He remains one of the most underrated players in Kansas history.
4. Cedric Hunter (1983-1987)
The little-known point guard Cedric Hunter led the 1986 Final Four run with impeccable inside feeds and quick transition passing.
As one of the best passers in KU history, Hunter's 684 career assists remain the third-best mark in school history, but his lack of scoring has drawn minor criticism, as he only averaged double-digit points once.
His junior and senior season numbers of 9.1 PPG, 7.1 APG and 11.6 PPG, 6.1 APG, respectively, greatly helped in the development of teammate Danny Manning into an elite big man and Kansas legend.
3. Nick Bradford (1996-2000)
Senior Kansas small forward Travis Releford has been praised for his development as a lock-down defender, most recently shutting down Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas.
He is arguably the most versatile defender since former Jayhawk Nick Bradford, a suffocating small forward who also contributed on the offensive end with timely penetration and efficient shooting.
Bradford regularly shut down opposing Big 12 playmakers, while also averaging 8.4 PPG during his last two years in Lawrence, but he was overshadowed by Jeff Boschee and Drew Gooden offensively.
2. Dave Robisch (1968-1971)
Dave Robisch, a 6'10" 235-pound center, earned two First-Team All-American selections along with two Big 8 conference Player of the Year awards.
He also recorded the fifth-best points-per-game total in Kansas history with 26.5 during his junior season and has his jersey retired in the Allen Fieldhouse rafters, yet he somehow remains overlooked next to the all-time KU greats.
Furthermore, Robisch led KU to the 1971 Final Four as a senior to cement his legacy as one of the best big men in Kansas basketball history alongside Wilt Chamberlain and Clyde Lovellette, two popular Jayhawks.
1. B.H. Born (1951-1954)
Kansas lost All-American Clyde Lovellette following the national title season of 1952 and planned to replace the ninth overall selection in the NBA draft with little-known B.H. Born, a bench player who averaged a mere 1.6 PPG in 1951-52.
Born responded with one of the most unheralded single-season performances in the program's history, as he averaged 18.9 PPG and led KU back to the 1953 title game.
The 6'9" big man recorded the first triple-double (unofficial) in Kansas hoops history in that title-game loss to Indiana, contributing to his Most Outstanding Player award for the tournament and First-Team All-American selection.
His No. 23 jersey is retired at KU but is too often overlooked for another No. 23 in the rafters: Leavenworth native and fan favorite Wayne Simien.