Kansas’ basketball uniforms have evolved over the years. We’ve already looked at the fashion of the 1950’s through the 1970’s in one column, and another explained what KU was wearing as the last century came to a close. Now, let’s take a closer look at the uniforms that KU has featured this century.
The earliest part of the new century went unchanged from the latter part of the 1990’s. KU sported what I have dubbed the classic "arches" uniform named thusly because of the design under the arms and on the shorts. These were the uniforms Kansas wore during its run to the 2002 Final Four as well as their NCAA title game appearance in 2003. Some of the greats to ever wear a KU uniform donned this jersey set, and in my opinion, it’s one of, if not the best in KU’s illustrious history.
Uniform Highlights: Like I said last week, perfection.
Overall Grade: A
The Bill Self era at Kansas was ushered in with a completely new look. Gone were the arches and in came an interweaving pattern the side of the shirt and shorts. There is the interlocking KU on the right leg and the Jayhawk on the left leg, keeping with the formula that made the arches uniform so great. Unfortunately, these were worn during the infamous game against Bucknell, so there is ample reason for KU fans to dislike them. I think they’re great, but KU dismissed these after that disappointing end to the 2005 postseason. This is the first of four consecutive uniform sets to feature a red alternate, but those will be covered in depth next week.
Uniform Highlights: They feature both the Jayhawk and "KU" on the shorts
Overall Grade: A-
Another classic and the last to feature the famous circus font that KU had worn a version of since 1985. This time KU ditched the weave-like pattern and in came a ribbon type swirl pattern down the side of the shirt and shorts. It looks almost exactly like a twisted ribbon. The interlocking KU is now gone from the shorts, with only the Jayhawk remaining.
Uniform Highlights: With no "KU" on the shorts, these get knocked down a fraction.
Overall Grade: B+
Prior to the 2007 season, KU decided to use a common font throughout the athletic department. Gone was the circus font, and in came the more generic "Trajan" font. There was a big uproar from KU purists (even though the font was only 22 years old and not even historically linked with the great mid-century KU teams) but all of that was soon forgotten when the football team, wearing the newly christened font, won the 2008 Orange Bowl. By the time KU won the 2008 NCAA Championship in basketball, the new font was looked upon with kinder eyes.
From a uniform perspective, KU looked pretty sharp from the 07-08 season until these were retired following the 09-10 campaign. These uniforms featured a rather thick side panel (blue on the white uniforms, red on the road blues) with a Jayhawk on each side of the shorts. What makes these uniforms great is the thin piping that outlines the side panel. It brings a touch of class to the uniforms. Sometimes it’s the little details that really bring a uniform all together.
Uniform Highlights: What’s not to like? We won a championship in these!
Overall Grade: A
With this iteration, the Jayhawk is only featured on the left side of the shorts. The thick side panels are also gone, replaced this time by two stripes, one thick and one thinner. They are far enough apart that you could conceivably believe that there are three stripes there with the primary color of the jersey landing in between the thick and thin lines thus creating a third stripe. These uniforms also feature splashes of color at the arms and at the bottom of the pants.
Uniform Highlights: Compared to the previous set, this set doesn’t stack up
Overall Grade: B
Introduced last year, these are the first KU jerseys not to feature some kind of piping element (I don’t count that little line of piping that you can barely see when the players are in action) on the shirts since 1993. They did however feature several interesting details. First, the Jayhawk on the shorts has been moved to the right hip. Second, the shoulders are completely different colors from the rest of the uniform. Third, the pattern on the shorts in totally different from anything that KU has ever worn. Don’t get me wrong, I love the alternate red and blue stripes on the home shorts (I have a fondness for stripes) and I even like the way the stripes are "contained" within that boomerang looking backwards seven. To me, these are easily the weakest uniforms of the Bill Self era, but at least they have those two sweet alternates to wear occasionally.
Uniform Highlights: They still look like Kansas at least, but the misplacement of the Jayhawk and the shoulder colors knock this grade way down.
Overall Grade: C-
Next week, we’ll continue our review of KU uniforms with a look at alternates, throwbacks, and one-offs. Again, if there are any glaring omissions, please feel free to add some info down in the comments section.