New York native Russell Robinson has returned to Lawrence for summertime charity events of former Kansas basketball teammate Mario Chalmers and radio play-by-play announcer Brian Hanni every year since his graduation from KU in 2008.
Busy competing overseas during his 9-year (and counting) pro career, Robinson hasn’t made it back to Allen Fieldhouse for a game during hoops season, however.
“I’ve never been to a KU game in my life. I couldn’t get out again last year. I’m saving the moment. I can’t wait,” the 31-year-old Robinson said in a recent interview.
“Hopefully this year I can work it out to get to a game. I’m really looking forward to that experience,” Robinson added in a text message to The Star on Monday.
The 6-foot-1 Robinson, who averaged 7.3 points and 4.1 assists while starting at point guard for KU’s 2007-08 NCAA title team, still follows the Jayhawks closely. He’s watched numerous games on TV from Spain, France, Turkey, Italy, Lebanon, Greece and Poland, where he’s played the last several seasons.
“Poland is nice,” said Robinson, who averaged 13.5 points, 5.7 assists and 2.2 steals a game last season for King Szczecin of the Polish Basketball League. “We had a couple of Jayhawks in Poland — Darnell (Jackson); I was teammate with Travis (Releford) a little while. Basketball is growing there. The league is getting a lot better.”
Robinson has not yet decided whether he’ll play in Poland or some other locale in 2017-18.
He has no plans to retire.
“Another year, another grind. I’m doing well, still healthy so I will continue to play,” Robinson stated. “I don’t know about Poland, somewhere in Europe for sure. I’ll continue to play.”
Robinson, who was not selected in the 2008 NBA Draft, played parts of three seasons in the NBA’s Development League. He’s found Europe more profitable.
“I am in love with the European lifestyle, I can’t lie,” Robinson said. “Going over there and traveling has been enjoyable for me.”
Robinson said the fact he has an NCAA title ring has helped him land some overseas contracts.
“They all know it,” Robinson said of KU winning the crown in ’08. “They’ve seen it (highlights) on YouTube. It has gotten me paid a little because we won.”
Robinson noted: “There are a lot of pros coming through Kansas. I’m happy to be part of it. I’m a big fan of everybody who’s come through Kansas. I enjoy watching them, keeping up with careers and career paths even off the court. I think guys are doing a great job representing Kansas at the highest level.”
Dates for Chalmers’ 2017 events
Robinson said Monday that if he’s available he’ll return for Chalmers’ charity events in August.
The ninth-annual Mario V. Chalmers Foundation golf tournament is set for Monday, Aug. 14, at the Jayhawk Golf Club Course (formerly Alvamar) in Lawrence.
A “Bowl With Mario” event is set for Saturday, Aug. 12, at Royal Crest Lanes in Lawrence. The events benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence Teen Center. For details go to http://www.mariovchalmersfoundation.org/home.html.
Traylor to play in Greece
Former Kansas forward Jamari Traylor has signed a contract to play for GS Kymis, a team located in Kymi, on the island of Euboea, Greece, Eurobasket.com and the GS Kymis official Website reported.
Traylor, 25, averaged 10.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in 40 games for the Redwell Gunners of Oberwart, Austria, last season. He was selected to Eurobasket.com’s Austrian League All-Imports Team and to the All-Star Game.
He also played 10 games in the FIBA Europe Cup. He averaged 9.1 points and 6.3 boards a game.
McLemore to Grizzlies
Former Kansas guard Ben McLemore will join former Jayhawk wing Wayne Selden in Memphis for the 2017-18 NBA season.
McLemore, a 6-foot-5, fifth-year pro out of St. Louis, reached agreement Sunday with the Grizzlies on a two-year, $10.7 million contract, ESPN and the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. That’s a day after the 6-foot-5 Selden agreed to a two-year deal with the Grizzlies.
The Commercial Appeal reported that Selden’s deal was a minimum-salary contract. According to hoopsrumors.com, next year’s minimum salary for a player with one year’s experience is $1,312,611.
Selden, a 22-year-old native of Roxbury, Mass., was not selected in the 2016 NBA Draft. He played in the D-League before joining the New Orleans Pelicans and Grizzlies late last season.
McLemore, 24, was taken No. 7 overall by Sacramento in the 2013 Draft. He earned $4,008,882 last season in the fourth year of his rookie contract.
The Kings declined to extend a qualifying offer to McLemore on Wednesday.
“He didn’t blossom with the Kings because of inconsistent playing time partly due to unfavorable reviews from two Kings coaches: George Karl and his successor, Dave Joerger,” wrote Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal.
“Despite his up-and-down play with the Kings, the book on McLemore is that he’s an athletic, versatile swingman who can play small forward in small lineups. His natural position is shooting guard, where McLemore is a credible defender and has an ability to score as a spot-up shooter with adequate three-point range. Critics point to McLemore’s need to improve ball-handling so he can better create offense off the dribble,” Tillery added.
McLemore averaged 8.1 points a game in 2016-17. He hit a career-best 38.2 percent of his threes.
Mason is now No. 15
Former KU point guard Frank Mason will wear jersey No. 15 with the Sacramento Kings, the team announced on Twitter. Mason wore No. 0 at Kansas and 15 in high school.
Willie Cauley-Stein wears 00 for the Kings. Coincidentally, Cauley-Stein wore No. 15 in college at Kentucky.