The rafters of Allen Fieldhouse got a little more crowded the past week as Cole Aldrich’s No. 45 and Sherron Collins’ No. 4 joined the Kansas greats on the south side of the Fieldhouse on Saturday and Monday respectively. This makes four players from the 2008 national championship team (Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers, Aldrich, and Collins) whose numbers are forever enshrined.
The question now, naturally, is who’s next? It’s unlikely anyone else on the 2008 team receives the honor, so let’s look at the best players since 2009 who have built solid cases. This is by no means a complete list, but here are a few of the candidates who could see their number raised in Allen Fieldhouse in the next few years.
Frank Mason – No. 0
I’m going to avoid calling anyone a lock, but Frank Mason feels like as close as it gets. You can’t look at the Jayhawks’ all-time leaderboards without seeing Frank’s name. Mason is sixth all-time in scoring (1,885; three points behind Sherron Collins), sixth in assists (576), and ninth in 3-pointers (185). He then ended his career with one of the best individual seasons a Jayhawk had put up in years. Mason’s 20.9 ppg and 5.2 assists per game led to him receiving nearly every college basketball award available: Big 12 Player of the Year, Wooden Award, Naismith Award, AP Player of the Year, The Sporting News Player of the Year, NABC Player of the Year, USBWA Player of the Year, and consensus first-team All-American. Yeah, just schedule the ceremony already.
Thomas Robinson – No. 0
Another wildly successful No. 0. Despite only scoring 83 points as a freshman, T-Rob became a 1,000-point scorer before leaving early after his junior year. That famed junior season, Robinson averaged 17.1 points and 11.9 rebounds (best in the country) per game, made the game-saving block against Missouri in the final showdown in Allen Fieldhouse (that gets factored in, right?), led the Jayhawks to the Final Four, was named the 2011-2012 Big 12 Player of the Year, a member of the 2012 NCAA All-Tournament team, and was a consensus first-team All-American. If it wasn’t for a guy named Anthony Davis, Robinson could have been the National Player of the Year.
Marcus Morris – No. 22
Is it possible to retire one Morris twin’s jersey and not the other’s? Would Kansas be open to a joint 21/22 Morris jersey hanging with the fellow greats? If not, Marcus’ No. 22 has the best chance of the two to be enshrined, as his stats and hardware stands out compared to Markieff. Marcus finished his three-year career with 1,371 points and 676 rebounds. His career was capped off with a 17.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg junior season in which he was named the 2010-11 Big 12 Player of the Year, a NCAA All-Region team member in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, a consensus second-team All-American, and a Wooden Award finalist.
Perry Ellis – No. 34
Perry Ellis is not the typical KU big man, and not just in his style of play. Unlike players like T-Rob and Jeff Withey, who had to wait their turns before shining in their final year or two, Ellis is one of the most consistent players throughout his Kansas career; his 1,798 career points is good for ninth best all-time and he also racked up 834 rebounds. Ellis averaged 14.7 ppg and 6.5 rpg his final three years, including a 16.9 and 5.8 senior season that resulted in Ellis being a 2016 consensus second-team All-American and Wooden Award finalist.
Potential Current Player: Devonte’ Graham – No. 4
It’s tough to try and proclaim a player’s legacy before his career is over. A lot can happen in the next month to determine that fate. But out of all of the current Jayhawks, Devonte’ Graham has the best case for future enshrinement (unless Doke stays four years and just dominates, which is unlikely). Obviously leading Kansas to a Final Four, being a first-team All-Big 12 player, and reaching All-American status would greatly help his case. But even without those, not many players have been as successful throughout his career as Devonte’. With three games left in the regular season of his senior year, Graham is already 17th all-time in scoring (1,569; 11 points behind Tyshawn Taylor), 10th in assists (551; one assist behind Sherron Collins), and second in 3-pointers (270; 68 behind leader Jeff Boschee). Graham is averaging 17.6 points and 7.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game as a senior, and is by far the leader and most important player on this Kansas team, as evident by how many minutes he plays a game.