We’re trying to determine the best KU player in the last 20 years. Here’s a brief recap of how we’re doing it.
We are taking the Final Four from each of the recent brackets on this site (Thomas Robinson, Jeff Withey, Brandon Rush, and Mario Chalmers from the Self bracket and Paul Pierce, Nick Collison, Kirk Hinrich, and Raef LaFrentz from the Roy bracket) and pitting these goliaths of Kansas basketball against each other to determine the best player of the last 20 years.
The four players from each era were put into a random generator (random.org) and listed as numbers one through four. The ones were pitted against each other, the twos will square off, and so on. For the semi-finals, the four winners will be again put into the random generator (in order of highest percentage of votes) and the two semi-final matchups will be set.
The third matchup that the generator created is Brandon Rush v Raef LaFrentz. Rush was eliminated in the championship match of the Self bracket while LaFrentz won the Roy bracket.
Brandon Rush was consistent. Over his three seasons at Kansas he averaged 13.5, 13.8, and 13.3 points as well as 5.9, 5.6, 5.1 assists, and 2.0, 2.0, 2.1 assists per game. Spread out over the course of 40 minutes, those numbers increase, but since he always played between 29.7 and 32.5 minutes per game, they don’t drastically change.
His numbers did go up when it mattered the most. In the magical 2008 national title run, Rush averaged 15.8 points per game, including a monster 25 point game against North Carolina in the national semifinals. He was on the Final Four All-Tournament team, and deservedly so.
Rush also won his fair share of individual accolades. He was the 2005-06 Big 12 Freshman of the Year. He is also only one of two players in the 20-year history of the Big 12 to be named to the All-Conference first team for three seasons (the other, strangely enough is Andre Emmett). Rush skipped his senior season as was drafted 13th overall in the 2008 NBA Draft.
Statistcally, Raef LaFrentz is one of the best players in Kansas history. He is the third all time leading scorer with 2,066 points and the program’s second best rebounder with a total of 1,186. Impressive.
As a freshman, he averaged 11.4 points and 7.5 rebounds and took off from there. His point totals elevated to 13.4 after his sophomore season to 18.5 in his junior campaign, and culminated in a 19.8 average in his senior season of 1997-98. His rebound also steadily increased over that time (8.2 to 9.3 to 11.4). If you take his career numbers and spread them out over 40 minutes, they become staggering- 30.7 points and 17.6 rebounds.
He also has the individual accolades to go with the numbers. He was a first team All-Big 12 selection in each of his junior and senior seasons. He was also voted the Big 12 Player of the Year in those two campaigns. To top it off, he was selected to the first team of the All-American squad in those years as well. The only thing he really didn’t do was lead Kansas to a Final Four or national title.
Will that be enough to hold him back and allow Brandon Rush to go through to the next round? You decide in the poll below. Voting will be allowed through Thursday at midnight KU time.