Kansas' Top 10 Athletes All-Time
Raef LaFrentz (Basketball) 1994-1998
Jayhawks teammate Paul Pierce may have the NBA spotlight now, but at Kansas, Raef LaFrentz was the star. The four-year starter and two-time All-America averaged 15.8 points and 9.1 rebounds per game and finished second all-time in points (2,066) and rebounds (1,186). As a senior, LeFrentz became the first KU player in 27 years to average a double-double (19.8 ppg and 11.4 rpg) and won his second-consecutive Big 12 Player of the Year award.
Billy Mills (Track & Field) 1958-1961
As a three-time All-America cross country runner, Billy Mills won the individual Big Eight cross country championship and was a member of the 1959 and 1960 NCAA outdoor track championship teams. He won gold at the 1964 Olympics in the 10,000-meter run, set a world record for the six-mile run and was later inducted into the U.S. Track & Field Hall of Fame.
Pete Mehringer (Wrestling, Football) 1931-1933
As an NCAA All-America wrestler, Pete "Kansas Whirlwind" Mehringer won two state-wide wrestling championships and three Missiouri Valley Conference titles. As a sophomore, he won the 1932 Olympic freestyle wresting gold medal, making him the first KU athlete to ever win gold. He was also a two-time All-Big Six and second team All-America defensive tackle for the Jayhawk's football team and later went on to play professional football.
Marilynn Smith (Women's Golf) 1946 -1949
While still a teenager, Marilynn Smith won three-straight women's Kansas state amateur golf championships before winning the Women's Intercollegiate Title for the Jayhawks in 1949. That same year she turned pro and became one of the original 13 founders of the LPGA in 1950. Smith finished her professional career with 21 LPGA tour wins including two majors, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006.
Clyde Lovellette (Basketball) 1949-1952
A three-time All-America center and Big-Seven scoring leader, Clyde Lovellette was the first college basketball player to lead the country in scoring and win a national championship in the same year. He led the Jayhawks to a 1952 NCAA title, winning the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player award and scoring a then-NCAA-record 141 tournament points (35.25 points per game). He was also the first basketball player to play on an NCAA, Olympic and NBA championship team.
Gale Sayers (Football & Track) 1961-1964
Known as one of the greatest open field runners in college football history, Gale "Kansas Comet" Sayers was a two-time All-America running back who finished his career with 2,675 rushing yards and 3,917 all-purpose yards. Sayers also ran track for the Jayhawks, competing in the hurdles, 100-m, and long jump. Drafted fourth overall, Sayers became a Pro Bowl running back for the Chicago Bears and is a member of the College and Pro Football halls of fame.
Lynette Woodard (Women's Basketball) 1978-1981
A four-time All-America basketball player, Lynette Woodward set a record as the top-scoring women's college basketball player in NCAA history, averaging 26 points per game and scoring 3,649 total points. She went on to win an Olympic gold medal in 1984 and became the first female member of the Harlem Globetrotters before playing overseas and eventually being drafted in the WNBA.
Danny Manning (Basketball) 1984-1988
A two-time All-America and consensus NCAA Player of the Year in 1988, power forward Danny Manning is Kansas' all-time leading scorer and rebounder with 2,951 points and 1,187 rebounds. He led the Jayhawks to the 1986 Final Four and a 1988 NCAA title against Oklahoma and was the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Drafted first overall in the 1988, Manning was later named the Big Eight's Player of the Decade and is currently the eighth all-time leading scorer in NCAA history.
Jim Ryun (Track & Field) 1967-1969
As a freshman, Jim Ryun was named Sports Illustrated's "Sportsman of the Year" after setting world-record times in the indoor half-mile (1:48.3) and outdoor mile (3:51.1). With the help of his teammates, he set more world records in the sprint medley (3:15.2) and distance medley relays (9:33.8) before becoming the NCAA outdoor mile champion and three-time indoor mile champion. His indoor mile victory in 1969 helped the Jayhawks win the NCAA indoor championship.
Wilt Chamberlain (Basketball, Track & Field) 1956-1958
In his first NCAA varsity basketball game, the 7-foot-1 Wilt Chamberlain had 52 points and 31 rebounds, breaking both college records. He averaged 29.9 points and 18.9 rebounds in his two seasons at Kansas and was a track and field star as well. Despite losing to the Tarheels in the 1957 NCAA Championship, the first team All-America center still won the Most Outstanding Player award before going on to be one of the greatest, most dominant players in the NBA.