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The Best Players of the Roy Williams Era: Sweet 16

We’re down to the last 16 in the quest to find the best player of the Roy Williams era at Kansas.

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The first round of voting is over and the results are in. The Rock Chalk Talk writers and commenters have voted, and the best 16 players of the Roy Williams era at Kansas are below. As mentioned in the comments section of our voting, much of the first round went chalk with most of the highest seeds gaining unanimous or near unanimous approval and a place in the Sweet 16. Also, it is interesting to note that the second day (mimicking the NCAA tournament, perhaps?) featured no upsets, even in the supposedly closely matched 4 v 5 games. The matchups look a lot more intriguing now that we are into the Sweet 16.

As a side note, it seemed like the second half of the bracket featured more players that the commenters believed were poorly seeded (Kenny Gregory, Steve Woodberry, and Jeff Graves in particular). As with any committee-selected bracket, there are bound to be some matchups and seedings that are questionable. The NCAA tells us this every year, and every year some team has to swallow the cold harsh truth that it (and in this case, a great player) got screwed. Thems the breaks.


1 Paul Pierce v 4 Rex Walters

Paul Pierce swept Eric Pauley in the voting as expected while the 4/5 matchup of Rex Walters and Kevin Pritchard was not as close as I suspected. While there is an obvious bias toward players of the more recent era, I figured these two old school guys would battle it out down to the wire. Nope. Rex Walters and the glory of the three pointer won 71% of the vote while the only player on this list that won a National Championship was sent packing.

So, who will it be for a place in the Elite 8? Pierce was a player who if he played today, would certainly be a one-and-done, and Rex Walters was a transfer from Northwestern who led KU to the 1993 Final Four. Both players led their respective teams in scoring in their final season at Kansas.

2 Aaron Miles v 3 Scot Pollard

Both of these guys had a pretty easy time getting into the Sweet 16. Miles, KU’s all time assist man, garnered 94% of the vote, while Pollard grabbed 82%.

This could be an interesting vote with an Elite 8 berth on the line. Miles or Pollard? Do you vote for the man who averaged 6.9 assists per game over his four years (and under two head coaches whose systems differ drastically) or do you go with the eccentric big man whose numbers would be superior if he hadn’t shared the court with so many great players? Decision time, RCT.

1 Kirk Hinrich v 5 Greg Ostertag

Hinrich won his battle with 100% of the votes while Ostertag sprung the only upset of the day one voting wrestling 64% of the vote away from Adonis Jordan.

Now, we have a battle between two funny-looking white guys for the right to advance to the Elite 8. Hinrich led his team to two straight Final Fours in 2002 and 2003 and over his career shot 43% from long range and averaged 12.4 points and 4.7 assists per game. Ostertag was a defensive specialist who averaged two blocks per game over four years at KU.

2 Wayne Simien v 3 Mark Randall

Wayne Simien was a unanimous selection to advance to this round while big man Mark Randall dispatched sharpshooter Downtown Terry Brown with relative ease (76%).

Wayne Simien averaged a double-double his senior year at Kansas (20.3 PPG & 11.0 RPG- although not under Roy Williams) and Mark Randall monitored the paint in his time at KU and led the Jayhawks to the 1991 Final Four in his senior campaign while averaging 15 points and 6.2 rebounds per game that season.

1 Nick Collison v 4 Ryan Robertson

Collison had no problem taking care of overmatched Mike Maddox in a sweep of the votes but the matchup of former teammates Ryan Robertson and Eric Chenowith proved to be a tight battle. Robertson won 60% of the votes. Maybe if Eric hadn’t been off following the Dave Matthews Band around in the summer and instead worked on his interior game, he might have enhanced his post-KU legacy by winning a first round bracket challenge game on a blog. But alas, he decided to have fun in college.

Ryan Robertson saved his best for last as his senior campaign was far and away his finest in a Jayhawk uniform. The guard from St. Charles, Missouri (remember how mad Mizzou fans were when Robertson picked KU?) scored 12.8 points per game in 98-99. He shot 41% from three-point range in his time at KU.

Nick Collison took Ryan Robertson’s number four jersey and promply turned in one of the best four year runs in KU history. Collison ended his time at KU with appearances in two Final Fours and in 2003, he was a consensus selection to the All-America team.

2 Drew Gooden v 3 Jeff Boschee

Drew Gooden had no problems with Michael Lee and Boschee cruised as well. Both got all the votes, but many commenters noted that Richard Scott, Boschee’s opposition, got a bum deal. Still, they saw Boschee as the superior player, and he advances to face one of the first players to defect early for the riches of the NBA.

Now we see a matchup of the 2002 NABC National Player of the Year (Gooden) and KU’s all time leading three-point threat (Boschee). Boschee made a ridiculous 46% from beyond the arc on 237 attempts. In 2002, Gooden led the country in made field goals and in total rebounds. And by the way, his freshman and sophomore seasons weren’t too shabby either (13.2 PPG/8.0 RPG).

1 Raef Lafrentz v 4 Billy Thomas

The Monona, Iowa native secured all the votes while the Billy Thomas/Jeff Graves battle was tight. It looked for a while that Graves might spring the upset, but, it seems, not enough people met him at a Waffle House (like mikeville) and Thomas secured two-thirds of the vote when all was said and done.

I would list off all of Raef’s accomplishments while in Lawrence, but I don’t have the time. In summary, he was a consensus first team All-American in his junior and senior seasons. Billy Thomas is the second best three-point wizard to ever grace James Naismith Court.

2 Jacque Vaughn v 3 Keith Langford

Kenny Gregory was probably under seeded but he lost to Vaughn anyway, and Langford took care of Steve Woodberry (another seeding complaint) easily.

Jacque Vaughn was a floor general in ever sense of the word. He dished out over 800 assists in his time at KU and was a second team All-American in his junior and senior seasons. Keith Langford was one of the most consistent players in recent memory. He played two years for Roy and two years for Self and averaged 13.3 points per game over that span.

Here it is in bracket form.

Sweet 16

As always, put your votes in the comments. We’ll give it until noon KU time on Wednesday to get the votes in.