Alumni in Nashville, Tampa and Omaha also got together at their local watch sites to see where the Jayhawks would begin their NBA careers.
Going home again
The Big 12 Player of the Year didn’t have to wait long into the second round to know his destination, as the Charlotte Hornets traded two future second round picks to secure the first-team All-American at pick #34. Graham continues to be linked to his former backcourt teammate Frank Mason III, who was drafted with the same pick last year by the Sacramento Kings.
While Malik Newman and Billy Preston were not selected, their professional basketball careers are just beginning. Former Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr., who went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft and now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, shared his advice:
Not hearing your name called tonight doesn’t mean a damn thing, its all about what you do now. Yeah be mad, but use that frustration as fuel to the fire to prove you belong. Take it day by day & work your ass off because the cream will always rise to the top. Thats just facts.
KU alumni and fans still smarting from this year’s loss to Wichita State in the NCAA tournament may find some solace in recalling the thrill of victory in 1988, more than a quarter of a century ago. If that makes you feel old, just imagine how the players feel.
While ‘Danny and the Miracles’ have all gone on with their lives, the ’88 championship still unites them, especially this time of year.
Over the weekend, National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition featured interviews with three of the Jayhawks from that Cinderella team in their For the Record segment by Rachel Martin. Recalling how the championship changed their lives, Jeff Gueldner, b’91, Clint Normore, ’89, and Milt Newton, d’89, g’93, each offered their unique journeys since ’88. The full interview, which you can listen to below and online at npr.org, catches up with each Jayhawk, none of whom made it to the NBA. Well, at least not the way you might think.
Newton always wanted to be a professional basketball player, but when his prospects for playing in the NBA looked bleak after college, his father gave him some sage advice, encouraging him to pursue a career that kept him involved with the game he loved. Today, Newton is general manager for the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves.
Normore, who also played football at KU before joining the Jayhawk basketball team, leads diversity programs at Oklahoma City University and still remembers the surreal feeling of being in the moment, when he could tune out the crowd and only hear his KU coaches and teammates.
But Guelder’s life took a few twists and turns since ’88, and after a cancer diagnosis, he discovered how meaningful his championship moment really was.
“As soon as the folks at KU found out,” Martin reveals in her story, “he was overwhelmed with notes and care packages from people he’d never met before. But it didn’t matter. Gueldner was part of that storied ’88 Jayhawks team. They rooted for him then and they were doing so again when he needed it most.”
With so many former KU basketball stars playing professional ball, NBA games are popular events for alumni chapter members to attend.
Jayhawks in the Sacramento area attended KU Night with the Sacramento Kings last night. Kent Hohlfeld, j’95, sent us this recap of the game:
Approximately 25-30 KU alumni and fans showed up for the Kings season finale against the Phoenix Suns. Former Jayhawk players Ben McLemore of the Kings and Suns players Marcus and Markieff Morris signed pre-game autographs for the fans.
During the game, McLemore had a career-high 31 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, while Marcus Morris had 22 points and 6 rebounds. Markieff Morris had 15 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists as the Morris twins’ Suns team beat McLemore and the Kings 104-99.
Last Saturday, the Dallas Mavericks hosted more than 60 members and guests of the KU Alumni Association’s Dallas Chapter, including seven new members, for a home game against the Phoenix Suns. The evening kicked off with exclusive courtside access to the shootaround, where Jayhawk fans watched our own Marcus and Markieff Morris go through their pregame routines. The twins smiled and waved to Rock Chalk cheers from the alumni crowd as they prepared for the important late-season matchup.
After the shootaround, a happy hour was held in the American Airlines Center restaurant and bar Pira. The Jayhawk faithful enjoyed a VIP patio area on a pleasant spring evening, with drinks and appetizers provided by the Alumni Association. Finally, it was game time—and the action did not disappoint as the Mavericks came back from an early deficit to clinch a playoff spot, 101-98, in a tense, down-to-the-wire finish. For basketball-loving Jayhawks, it was a great game and overall experience at the American Airlines Center! KU Night with the Mavericks will be a highly anticipated event on the alumni calendar in years to come.
Ben McLemore, who became a top NBA draft prospect after playing just one season at KU, shares intimate details about his life’s journey with ESPN’s Andy Katz. Today’s draft coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPN.