Jayhawks In The NBA: A Closer Look At Kansas Coach Bill Self

Read more from Owen Kemp at SB Nation's Rock Chalk Talk.

When you are successful, it's only natural that people will search for a reason to criticize. A reason to chip away at what you've accomplished, expose your flaws and find chinks in the armor. For Bill Self and Kansas in general, one such area is the NBA Draft.  

Self and Kansas as a whole have often faced criticism of late due to the fact that they recruit and attract top level talent, but that talent doesn't always translate to top flight NBA careers. This year Xavier Henry actually became the first ever one-and-done Jayhawk.  

Paul Pierce is likely the most identifiable Jayhawk in the NBA after winning a Finals MVP award and now continuing to play well on the back end of a very successful career with the Celtics. At the same time you have players like Raef LaFrentz, Jacque Vaughn and Scot Pollard from the same Jayhawks teams who have never found that same level of notoriety despite very long and profitable stints in the NBA. 

The Roy Williams era at Kansas can also lay claim to a sought after journeyman in Drew Gooden, and two fairly solid contributors out of Iowa in Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich.

More recently the Bill Self led Jayhawks have placed Darnell Jackson, Julian Wright, Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers and Wayen Simien ('05-'07) in the pros. Outside of the NBA, Sasha Kaun makes a successful living playing basketball in his home country of Russia while Russell Robinson continues his journey playing professionally in the NBDL. 

Do any of these names necessarily jump off the page? Maybe not, but these players have been given a shot to further their careers at the highest level and part of the reason why is because of what they were able to take away from their time at Kansas.

If a school afforded you the opportunity to play two, three or four years and move on for an additional opportunity to make a living at the highest level possible would you take it? 

Critics point to 11 McDonald's All-Americans and "zero" NBA success stories. No Kansas isn't full of Paul Pierce type stories, but how many other programs can gloat multiple players of that caliber? Duke is probably one of the more successful programs in this regard, but there are more examples of programs and even player of the year-caliber producers at the collegiate level who struggle in the NBA. 

The NBA is a grueling exercise of survival. One minute you are the next best thing, the next you are expendable. The most important thing a coach can likely do is prepare his player for the difficulties and challenges they will face in the NBA ideally ensuring some level of long term success. The second most important thing a university or coach can do is provide the pedigree to give them every advantage to get that chance. Kansas and Self can do that.

For it's part Kansas currently ranks in the top 10 in terms of players on an NBA roster from the same program. In fact, former Jayhawks represented over a quarter of all Big 12 players on an opening day NBA roster at the start of the 2009-2010 season.

The average length of an NBA career currently rests around 4.75 seasons. Exceed that and you've beaten the odds.  Ideally you've given yourself a nice head start in life and you can go on to face the next step in the journey. 

Kansas will very likely continue to draw criticism for their lack of perceived success in this department.  While that criticism continues however, there likely won't be a team or a coach in the Big 12(-2) that will be able to claim as many players in an NBA uniform as Self and Kansas.

Trending Discussions

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SB Nation Kansas City

You must be a member of SB Nation Kansas City to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SB Nation Kansas City. You should read them.

Join SB Nation Kansas City

You must be a member of SB Nation Kansas City to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SB Nation Kansas City. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.