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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | January 10, 2020

The 11 best Kansas men's basketball players of the 2010s

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During the 2010s, Kansas made the Final Four twice, including a national title game appearance, plus three Elite Eights and a Sweet 16, while 15 players earned All-America recognition, ranging from consensus First Team All-American to honorable-mention honors.

In short, the Kansas program has been (rock) chalk-full of talent.

I went through every Kansas roster from last decade and picked out the 11 best Jayhawks players, starting with the beginning of the decade (conference play in the 2010 season) to the end (non-conference play this season). These are my picks only.

BEST OF THE DECADE: Top 11 Duke players of the decade | Kentucky's all-decade team

I strictly examined a player's college career — not his high school or NBA accomplishments — and only the games played between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2019, with a special emphasis on All-America and All-Big 12 honors, per-game and advanced statistics, and NCAA tournament success.

This is more than just raw talent; this is also about legacy, awards and season-long sustained excellence.

Essentially, I tried to ask the question: At each player's best, how good was he and how good was Kansas?

Players who didn't play a full season in the decade were evaluated accordingly.

11. Dedric Lawson (2018-19)

Lawson played for Kansas one season after transferring from Memphis and it was his best season of college — he averaged 19.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks per game, while shooting 39 percent from three and 51 percent inside the arc. He was named a Second and Third Team All-American in his lone season as a Jayhawk, depending on which outlet you consult.

He was also named a consensus First Team All-Big 12 selection and the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.

Lawson had the highest offensive rating on the team, 114.4, while carrying the team's offense after center Udoka Azubuike suffered a season-ending injury nine games into the season. While Kansas lost its streak of consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles last season, the Jayhawks started 10-0 with seven wins over eventual NCAA Tournament teams, including Michigan State, Tennessee, Marquette, Villanova and Wofford, so their season trajectory changed dramatically when the Jayhawks could no longer pair Azubuike and Lawson together in the frontcourt.

If Azubuike was healthy all of last season, perhaps the Jayhawks would've earned another No. 1 seed and made the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, if not the Final Four.

Lawson ranked in the top seven in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage in the Big 12, plus seventh in block percentage, as a do-it-all veteran for Kansas.

He finished eighth in kenpom.com's national player of the year standings last season.

10. Tyshawn Taylor (2008-12)

Taylor was a starter for the bulk of his Kansas career but he blossomed in his senior year, when he averaged 16.6 points, 4.8 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game for a Jayhawks team that went 32-7, won the Big 12 and played for a national title.

He was named a Third Team All-American and First Team All-Big 12 selection. Taylor shot 38 percent from three as a junior and senior, and he assisted on almost 30 percent of Kansas' made baskets when he was on the floor in 2012.

In 12 NCAA tournament games last decade, Taylor averaged 10.5 points, 4.6 assists and 2.8 rebounds but he had 22 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals in a win against North Carolina in the Elite Eight and 19 points in Kansas' national championship loss to Kentucky, so he saved his best performances for last.

9. Perry Ellis (2012-16)

A running joke in college basketball circles during the 2010s was that Perry Ellis has played for Kansas forever. As a freshman, he played with Jeff Withey, Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford, and the Jayhawks' core turned over once or twice by the time he left Lawrence in 2016.

But throughout his four years, Ellis grew from a productive-in-small-doses reserve as a freshman (he also started three games that season) to a receiving an honorable mention All-America nod as a junior and being named a Second Team All-American as a senior.

Ellis was a two-time First Team All-Big 12 selection who averaged 16.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists as a senior, when he finished sixth in kenpom.com's national player-of-the-year standings.

While posting a team-high 27.3 shot rate, he remained efficient, making 43 percent of his threes, 54 percent of his twos and almost 80 percent of his free throws, leading to his posting the country's 121st-best offensive rating of 120.1. He rarely turned the ball over or committed fouls, and he turned in 16 20-point performances in 38 games as a senior.

8. Ben McLemore (2012-13)

After redshirting during the 2011-12 season, McLemore proved to be worth the wait as he was named a First Team All-Big 12 selection and Second Team All-American by most major outlets. He averaged a team-high 15.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steal per game as a starter, leading the Jayhawks to a 19-1 start following a three-point loss to Michigan State in the second game of the season.

Other than a three-game losing streak in which Kansas lost by five, six and seven points, including two games on the road, the Jayhawks were mostly untouchable that season, sharing the Big 12 regular-season title, winning the conference tournament and earning a No. 1 seed, before ultimately losing to national runner-up Michigan in overtime in the Sweet 16.

McLemore's 118.7 offensive rating was the second-highest on the team as he nearly joined the 50/40/90 club with a 49.5 shooting percentage, 42 percent 3-point percentage and 87 percent free-throw percentage.

7. Sherron Collins (2006-10)

Collins only played one season in the 2010s, which limits his ceiling on this list (being the Big 12 Sixth Many of the Year on Kansas' 2008 national championship team doesn't count for our purposes), but he was a First Team All-American in 2010, when he averaged 15.5 points, 4.5 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game for a Jayhawks team that went 33-3.

Kansas' 2010 team started 27-1, won the Big 12 by four games, won the Big 12 Tournament and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament before getting upset by Northern Iowa in the second round. (Close your eyes, Kansas fans, because that's a good excuse to link to one of the most famous shots in recent NCAA Tournament memory, when Northern Iowa's Ali Farokhmanesh fired an open three from the wing while the Panthers were nursing a one-point lead in the final minute.)

Collins was a 37 percent 3-point shooter as a senior, his 24.4 percent assist rate led all Kansas rotation players and his 113.7 offensive rating was in the top 250 nationally.

6. Jeff Withey (2009-13)

Withey played on the first four Kansas teams of last decade and he finished his career as a First Team All-Big 12 selection, back-to-back Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and Second Team All-American in 2013, when he was the Jayhawks' second-leading scorer at 13.7 points per game, grabbed a team-high 8.5 rebounds per game and blocked 3.9 shots per game.

Withey's senior year block percentage of 13.7 percent, which means that he blocked roughly one out of every 7.5 2-point attempts while he was on the floor, ranked fifth in the country, so he was truly an elite rim protector.

Thanks to his 60 percent shooting percentage in conference play, he was one of the most efficient scorers in the conference and he ranked in the top 15 in the Big 12 in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.

5. Andrew Wiggins (2013-14)

Wiggins was one of the most-hyped freshmen of last decade and even while being held to a high standard, he performed admirably in his lone season at Kansas. He was a consensus Second Team All-American selection in 2014, when he averaged a team-high 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 block per game.

Wiggins also earned Big 12 Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Big 12 honors.

His offensive efficiency stayed above average (112.3 offensive rating) while serving as the team's primary scoring option, he drew nearly six fouls per 40 minutes and he shot almost 78 percent from the foul line, and he was an aggressive defender and offensive rebounder for a Jayhawks team that won the Big 12 regular-season title and earned a No. 2 seed.

Kansas' NCAA tournament stay that season was a short one as the Jayhawks were upset by Stanford in the second round in a game in which Wiggins scored just four points on 1-of-6 shooting. While he wasn't always the most consistent shooter, he was also prone to producing some high-level single-game performances, like a 41-point outburst on 12-of-18 shooting at West Virginia, 30 points in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament, 26 points at Florida and 22 points against Duke in the Champions Classic.

4. Marcus Morris (2008-11)

Morris was named the Big 12 Player of the Year and a consensus Second Team All-American in 2011 after he averaged 17.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 62 percent inside the arc and 34 percent from behind it as a junior.

Kansas swept that Big 12 regular season and conference tournament titles that season, earning a No. 1 seed in the process, as part of a 35-3 season that ended in an Elite Eight loss to VCU, which was one of two Cinderella teams to make the Final Four that season.

The Jayhawks were the most efficient 2-point shooting team in the country that season in large part because both Morris twins shot 62 percent from two, which allowed Marcus Morris to have the nation's 53rd-best offensive rating at 121.9.

At 6-8 and 225 pounds, he was a load to handle inside, which allowed him to draw six fouls per 40 minutes and have an impressive 51.1 percent free-throw rate.

3. Devonte' Graham (2014-18)

Graham's career trajectory was somewhat similar to his former Kansas teammate Frank Mason III, who's also on this list. Both arrived on campus surrounded by players in their freshman class who were more highly touted and put up bigger numbers initially.

Graham averaged 5.7 points per game as a freshman, coming off the bench in all 29 games in which he played. He became a starter and double-digit scorer as a sophomore, before breaking out as a senior and reaching All-America heights.

The 6-2 guard averaged 17.3 points, 7.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game in 2018, when he was named a consensus First Team All-American and the Big 12 Player of the Year. As a senior, Graham led Kansas to the Final Four and in 15 career NCAA tournament games, he averaged 14 points per game, including seven games with more than 15 points.

2. Thomas Robinson (2009-12)

Robinson had a pretty incredible year-over-year improvement between his sophomore and junior seasons, the latter of which resulted in him being named a consensus First Team All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year on a Kansas team that made the national championship game.

As a sophomore, he started just twice in 33 games, averaging 7.6 points and 6.4 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game.

The next season he averaged 17.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game, while starting every game for the 32-7 Jayhawks. Robinson led the country in defensive rebound percentage (30.5%), drew nearly six fouls per 40 minutes and shot 50 percent from the field. He finished second in kenpom.com's national player-of-the-year standings.

1. Frank Mason III (2013-17)

Get this, Frank Mason III was in the same freshman class as Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Wayne Selden, and classmates Brannen Greene and Conner Frankamp were probably more well-known players than Mason when the group arrived in Lawrence in 2013.

Well when it was all said and done, Mason turned out to be the greatest college player of his freshman class — and the rest of the waves of talent that rolled through Allen Fieldhouse last decade. He was the consensus National Player of the Year as a senior in 2017, when he averaged 20.9 points, 5.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game for a Kansas team that won the Big 12 by four games, earned a No. 1 seed and advanced to the Elite Eight.

Mason also won the Bob Cousy Award, which goes to the best point guard in the country, he was named Big 12 Player of the Year and earned consensus First Team All-American honors in 2017.

He was a lights-out shooter as a senior, making 47 percent of his threes while attempting almost five per game, shooting 50 percent inside the arc and almost 80 percent at the foul line. That's what allowed him to have an offensive rating of 125.2 — the 52nd-highest in the country — while running the show for the No. 5 offense in the country.

Also considered: Josh Jackson, Joel Embiid, Cole Aldrich, Markieff Morris

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