KU’s Oubre was a diamond at NBA Draft, but Alexander sure got it rough

A closeup of former Jayhawk Kelly Oubre Jr.'s snazzy shoes, worn Thursday night during the 2015 NBA Draft.

Kathy Willens/AP

KANSAS CITY, Mo. ­– One ex-Jayhawk brought diamonds. The other got it rough.

"I actually liked it," coach Bill Self said late Tuesday night when asked about the glittering shoes sported by small forward Kelly Oubre Jr., former KU freshman and the 15th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. "I thought they were pretty sharp. I thought he looked good."

But unlike last June’s draft, in which the Jayhawks accounted for half of the first four off the board, including No. 1 overall selection Andrew Wiggins, Oubre’s kicks were, literally and figuratively, the highlight of the evening locally. The gifted swingman was selected by Atlanta just outside the Self Lucky Lottery Club and then almost immediately traded to Washington — the first part pretty much expected, the second part, not so much.

Yet the real stunner of the night was seeing Oubre’s one-and-done classmate Cliff Alexander, the power forward whose alleged familial ties to agents ended his KU eligibility prematurely, go unplucked.

"A lot of people called on Cliff early," Self admitted. "But I hadn’t heard that much late."

And, well, there you go. Hindsight is easy after the fact, but that the 6-foot-9 Alexander — who has a center’s game in a smallish power forward’s frame — reportedly suffered a knee injury earlier this month during a workout for the Lakers probably didn’t help his stock a whole hell of a lot. And interviews in which he appeared to blame everyone –€“ the NCAA, Kansas, Taylor Swift — BUT himself for Agent-gate didn’t appear to win that many more admirers, either.

"He was the best player in the gym on our team after he was declared ineligible (in February)," Self offered, rejecting assertions that Alexander might have had attitude issues. "We told NBA teams that he was."

Self intimated that no postseason play helped to sink Alexander’s stock, too. Although Oubre was anything but KU’s best player in March, and that didn’t seem to scare the scouts off in the slightest.

"(Whichever team) winds up getting me, I’m definitely going to give them 110 percent effort," Oubre told ESPN as he swapped a red Hawks hat for Wizards blue. "I want to show everybody what I can do and be great someday."

He’s not great now. But he IS interesting — and getting a front office to buy into the ceiling, at this point, is more than half the battle. Hey, the first Jayhawk off the board last June also wound up getting traded away by the team that drafted him. That one wound up working pretty well for everybody, once the dust finally settled.

A Wiggins clone, Oubre ain’t. Comparisons have been made to a young Kendall Gill or Trevor Ariza, though the ex-Jayhawk’s offensive tools are much more raw, and the shot isn’t as consistent as say, Ben McLemore, nor as assured as say, Wiggins at roughly the same age. With a 7-foot-2 wingspan and quick, poking hands, Oubre — at least in terms of the eye test — compared favorably on defense with Air Canada as a true freshman, a natural wing-smothering type who could create turnovers that lead to runouts. Of course, the former Jayhawk, who averaged 9.3 points and 5.0 boards during his only season at Lawrence, doesn’t finish at the rim like Wiggins. But few mortals do.

And just because you can’t fly with Maple Jordan doesn’t mean you ain’t, well, fly. Like the Oscars, fashion rules on draft night. Our man Kelly had that covered, thanks to a pair of shoes straight out of the magical world of Oz:

Welcome to the Association, kids, where diamonds are forever. Because team loyalty ain’t.

You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter at @SeanKeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com.