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Darrell Arthur, Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers and the NBA Draft

As was fully expected since the day we cut down the nets in San Antonio, both Brandon Rush and Darrell Arthur declared for the 2008 NBA Draft today. Because Brandon declared then returned last season, he has now officially played his last game in a Kansas uniform.

This isn't a surprise by any stretch, because if he doesn't tear his ACL last May in a pre-draft camp, he is a bench player on a contender right now. And once he decided to come back, almost exclusively because of his ACL tear, it was pretty much accepted that he would try again for the League after a year of returning to health. Of course, while he was here he helped us win a National Championship, which was sweet of him, but even if we lose a heartbreaking game in the Championship game, Rush still declares today.

As far as Darrell Arthur goes, he can still technically return to Kansas, as he has yet to sign an agent. Still, he figures to have played his last game in a Kansas uniform as well, unless another freak injury happens to him like it happened to Brandon last year. He will likely be a mid first round pick, bringing with it a sizable amount of dough. Of course, his departure to the League doesn't come completely out-of-the-blue, as many thought he was a one-and-done when he signed his LOI to come to Kansas. And coming into this season, after he (smartly) decided to return for his sophomore season, I generally expected this year to be his last in Lawrence.

So, the news today that they are both going to the NBA comes as little shock to me. The very strong odds that this would be their last season only increased as we made our way through the NCAA Tournament, especially as both players led the way in our charge towards a National Championship.

The real question is what will Mario Chalmers do. Before the Tournament, I didn't really consider it a real possibility that he would leave for the NBA after this season. Now, after quite a six-game stretch highlighted by his awesome and amazing three-pointer to tie the Championship, he has drawn a bunch of interest nationwide, including from some NBA scouts. His decision will be crucial in how well we do next year, as a team without Mario will have little chance at winning it all next season. However, a team that returns Mario and Sherron, along with bringing in a whole bunch of talent (namely twins Markieff and Marcus Morris; a great article on them can be found here), could make a sneaky run towards a Final Four next season.

But I am getting ahead of myself. First, let's take a look at some pros and cons about Mario's possible departure to the NBA, from Mario's perspective and leaving the selfish desires of the KU fan base (especially me) alone.

Why He Should Stay:

  • To improve your draft stock. Right now, Mario is thought of as a late first rounder at best, and most likely an early second rounder. That is some pretty good money, sure, but not nearly the level that a mid first rounder makes, which is what Mario could be if he came back and played really good basketball. Plus, Mario is only 6'1" and has never really handled the point guard duties full time. And while he would likely be more of a shooting guard next year as well, behind Sherron Collins, he would play a much bigger role in the offense and he could prove that he could be a point guard. Because at 6'1", it will be awfully tough to break into an NBA rotation as a shooting guard.
  • Senior Day. Anyone who has ever been to Allen Field House on Senior Day, especially a Senior Day of some of the more "popular" players, knows how special it can be, for both the players and the fans. And despite being what would essentially be the only scholarship senior giving a speech, with the other three members of his class (Micah Downs, Julian Wright and Brandon Rush) all having transferred or left early for the NBA, the place would be rocking for him. With his shot, he basically allowed us the opportunity to win a National Championship, and it was probably the biggest shot in school history. So, yea, that experience alone could be worth waiting on the riches for another year.
Why He Should Leave:
  • Possible injury. He could get hurt, threatening his possibilities of getting draft in the next draft. It would really suck to turn down almost-guaranteed riches only to throw it all away because of an injury. Still, the chances of an un-healable injury occurring are pretty slim, and even a pretty devastating injury, like a torn ACL, isn't career-ending, as Brandon Rush proved this season.
  • Decreasing value. If he is given the point guard job, and struggles to adapt to it, it will limit an NBA team's intent to draft him and try and convert him to a PG. Plus, another year in college is a whole other year 'lost' in terms of developing as an NBA player, although playing everyday at Kansas isn't exactly a complete lack of training.
Whichever way you look at it, you can't be mad at Mario. If he decides to go to the NBA, there should be no angry calls from the fan base. Playing in the NBA is a big-time dream for nearly everyone in the upper levels of college basketball, and to wait an entire year for that dream to come true has to be pretty tough. Not to mention the immediate financial rewards allowed if you do get drafted in the NBA.

However, while I certainly won't be mad if Mario decides to take his game to the NBA, that won't stop me from actively hoping that he decides to come back to school for another year. Because with him, we have an outside shot at repeating. Without Mario, and I am highly doubting a run that extends beyond the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.