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#KU50: 43 Kenny Gregory

43 days until Kansas Basketball!

Trivia question: who holds the NBA combine record for highest vertical leap? Given the title of this post, it’s probably not all too surprising that it is Kenny Gregory, who leapt an astounding 45.5 inches in 2001. He also had a standing leap of 39.5 inches.

Gregory was much more than a dunker though, and currently ranks 18th all time in scoring at Kansas, with 1,555 points. Gregory averaged 11.4 points per game over his KU career (and 15.6 ppg as a senior), and he currently ranks 16th in Big 12 history in career effective field goal percentage (no doubt helped by his ability to dunk, as he shot less than 33 percent from deep in his career). Gregory saw his efficiency go up as a junior and senior, shooting 59 and 60 percent from two, and really added the three pointer to his arsenal as a senior, shooting 38 percent (although only making about one per game).

Unfortunately, Gregory’s career was marred by a lack of team success. In his freshman season Kansas went 35-4 (15-1 in conference), but lost in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament. Then he played on a couple lackluster teams that were just 6 and 8 seeds, before finally making the Sweet 16 as a senior (and losing to Bill Self’s Illinois squad).

If Gregory came around now, he’d probably be a much better three point shooter, with that area of the game being ingrained in kids at a younger and younger age, and he’d probably be more widely remembered for his defense, as a 6-5 wing who could lock down 2s and 3s, and even defend down low a bit with his leaping ability. Because those Kansas teams played so fast, a lot of those guys don’t get their due defensively (much more on that later in the list), but Gregory was often quite good on that end.

Gregory was far from a complete player, as his lack of outside shooting and sometimes suspect ball handling can confirm, but he probably deserved more of a pro shake than time in the D-League followed by bouncing around Europe, playing in Great Britain, Italy, Spain, France, and Greece. He certainly deserves better than being known as only a dunker rather than what he is, which is one of the 50 best KU players ever.