I start beyond basketball and attempt to work back that direction (basketball)
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PG Aaron Miles
SG Kirk Hinrich/Keith Langford
SF Brandon Rush
PF Raef Lafrentz/Drew Gooden
C Joel Embiid
This list isn’t about objectivity. It’s about energy, spirit, vibes, if you want to call it that. These players all made being a Jayhawk fan a particularly rich experience, represented an era, or heightened what the Jayhawks did best at the time. Or, maybe I just like them better. These names will serve a philosophical and narrative importance in this newsletter. Allow me to elaborate:
Aaron Miles was the quarterback to the fun-and-gun late period Williams teams, and he piled up assists and steals throughout his four-year run. The laser three that sealed the comeback against Mizzou in the 2003 Hearnes Center game is one of the all-time funniest and most joyous Jayhawk moments.
Hinrich and Langford represented Roy Williams’ talent evaluation capacities at their most raw. Williams locked down Iowa on the recruiting trail, and Hinrich–who showed up scrawny and immediately got jacked—became an All-American. Langford, who had one offer at like, Ole Miss, became of the most unique scorers in KU history.
B Rush is a KC native and I was always going to be attached for that reason, but everyone loved playing with Brandon. The Big 12 title game against Texas, where Rush got absurdly hot, is a movie. I’m going to cop a Big 3 “Aliens” B Rush jersey as soon as someone has the good sense to make that available to me.
Raef and Gooden were different players equipped with particular skills. If Raef was playing in the NBA today, he would be getting that Chandler Parson money as a floor-stretching four. Gooden was crafty, a fact that belied his athleticism in college.
Everything about Joel Embiid’s story is surprising and we’re not even close to being done with it. Joel’s Iowa State breakout is immortal. While Joel was the latest example of a highly touted freshman figuring it out just as he’s walking out the door, the “what if Joel played in the tournament” question will haunt us forever.