Mercifully, the college basketball season doesn’t end with Kansas’ last home game. For a trio of players on this year’s Jayhawks team, however, their careers in Allen Fieldhouse will come to a close. While simultaneously a sad and celebratory day, Senior Night is a reminder of the beauty of college sports.
The Big 12 Tournament is still on the horizon for Kansas, as is the NCAA tournament. March Madness is a roller coaster of emotions throughout, but Senior Night certainly doesn’t leave the senses deprived. A touch of sadness, copious amounts of nostalgia and overwhelming gratitude is par for the course on the day of Kansas’ last home game.
Allen Fieldhouse is famous for its atmosphere, for being a place where fans, alumni and students come together to cheer on their beloved Jayhawks, creating the best home-court advantage in the nation. What makes Senior Night so special is that the game is the co-main event of the night, alongside the celebration of players who gave four years of emotional and physical stress for the program and for the fans.
That massive celebration, that togetherness in love for the players, is a perfect example of why college sports can be so great. While the level of play may not always be the best in the world, the pageantry of college athletics can’t be beaten. There’s something truly special about watching players pour their hearts out when describing their careers at Kansas while surrounded by 16,300 fans who hang on their every word with bated breath.
Senior Night gives fans the chance to see an emotional side of players and coaches that is rarely seen during games. When else could you see Bill Self brought to tears by the words of a player like he was during Jamari Traylor’s speech in 2016? That genuine, raw emotion is unparalleled anywhere else.
This year, three Jayhawks will say goodbye to Allen Fieldhouse on Senior Night. There’s guard Tyler Self, the coach’s son, who always gets one of the loudest cheers of any player when he steps on the court. Self may not have historic stats, but his cult-hero status won’t leave Allen Fieldhouse, even when he does.
Then there’s center Landen Lucas, the constant force down low. While he’s endured a fair share of criticism over the past couple of seasons, it’s blatantly obvious how important his rebounding and defense is to the Jayhawks. His scoring numbers may not be flashy, but he has been a major, necessary part of Kansas’ success during his career, specifically over the last two seasons.
And who could forget guard Frank Mason III? He’s atop multiple player of the year watch lists, he’s the Big 12’s leading scorer and he’s the unequivocal leader of the team. His toughness and tenacity has endeared him to Kansas fans the world over. From being the lowest-ranked recruit in a legendary 2013 Kansas class to a likely first-team All-American, his four-year story is one that will be celebrated loudly in Allen Fieldhouse on Senior Night.
Something about coming together to celebrate the careers of Jayhawks on Senior Night is simply special. The camaraderie and pageantry of the event is a reminder of how powerful, emotional and outright special college sports can be.