NBA Lockout: good for the Jayhawks

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Opinion

According to NBA Players Association President Billy Hunter, there is a 99% chance of an NBA lockout next summer.  While pro fans may agonize over this probability, it is very good news for college basketball fans.

Throughout it’s vaunted history, KU teams have always shared one common theme: one of the highest graduation rates in the country for student athletes.  There have been very few, if any, “one and done” type players on the roster.  Even surefire first rounders commonly choose to stay at Kansas for their senior years.  Generally this has been a combination of a quest for a National Title and a reflection of the incredible coaching at KU, (or in the isolated case of Brandon Rush, an offseason injury).  It is no small thing that Roy Williams chose to stay for a few extra years, instead of accepting his lifelong dream job at North Carolina when it was first offered.  This is a prime example of the loyalty of Kansas coaches to their players which has more often than not been reciprocated.  We knew Roy would eventually take the job, but unlike most other coaches who leave a school, there was and is no acrimony in Kansas for Roy, just respect and well wishes on his continued success… As long as it does’t come at our expense.

OKLAHOMA CITY - MARCH 20: (L-R) Marcus Morris #22 and Markieff Morris #21 of the Kansas Jayhawks walk towards the bench against the Northern Iowa Panthers during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men

There has been much speculation that the Morris twins might choose to forgo their senior seasons and enter the NBA Draft early.  Marcus is certainly a first round pick, and if Markieff’s performance continues to improve at it’s current pace, he would also likely be a first round choice.  It is understandable, of course, from their point of view, to start their professional careers early and avoid the financially devastating possibility of injury, but Sam Bradford’s ascendance in the NFL, despite his season ending injury at Oklahoma last year, gives some comfort.  It is also the forgone assumption that a talent as rare as Josh Selby would most likely be a one and done player at Kansas, following the Kevin Durant model. An NBA lockout this summer alters this thinking dramatically.  While Kansas will lose four guards; Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed, Mario Little and seldom-used three point specialist Conner Teahan to graduation at the end of this year, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson, and Travis Releford still provide an excellent core of backcourt players.  Keeping Selby in that mix, with an extra year of experience and coaching, would most certainly make this the premiere guard set in the NCAA.  Combine that with the already dominant Morris twins for another year, backed up by big men Jeff Withey and Thomas Robinson who are constantly improving their games, and we are certainly looking at another Championship level team. I for one, am hoping that the NBA owners continue their current course of unfettered greed, and lock out the NBA players next summer. I just hope that our players are wise enough not to hire agents prematurely, and lose their eligibility.  Thoughts?

Photo Courtesy of Yardbarker.com

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Tags: Billy Hunter Elijah Johnson Josh Selby Kansas Kevin Durant National Basketball Association National Basketball Players Association Tyshawn Taylor

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