KU's Sasha Kaun's Russian Basketball Team Qualifies for Olympics

July 8, 2012

Sasha Kaun was a four-year letterwinner at KU whose Russian team has qualified for the London 2012 Olympics.
Kansas Men’s Basketball Olympians
Charles Hoag (1952)
Bill Hougland (1952, 1956)
Sasha Kaun (2012, representing Russia)
John Keller (1952)
Allen Kelley (1960)
Dean Kelley (1952)
Bill Lienhard (1952)
Clyde Lovelette (1952)
Danny Manning (1988)
Jo Jo White (1968)
Phog Allen (1952, assistant coach)
Larry Brown (2000, assistant coach)
Roy Williams (2004, assistant coach)
Arthur Lonborg (1960, manager)
Dean Nesmith (1960, trainer)

Former Jayhawk men’s basketball player Sasha Kaun will compete in the London 2012 Olympic Games, July 27-August 12, as a member of Russian National men’s basketball team. Kaun’s squad defeated Nigeria 85-77 in Saturday’s Olympic Qualifying semifinals in Caracas, Venezuela.

The top three finishers in the 12-team qualifying tournament in Caracas advanced to the Olympics with Russia and Lithuania winning the semifinal contests. Semifinal losers Nigeria and the Dominican Republic will battle for the final Olympic spot on Sunday. Other teams who had already qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games include the United States, Spain, France, Argentina, China, Tunisia, Brazil and host Great Britain.

Kaun becomes first Jayhawk men’s basketball player to participate in the Olympic Games since Danny Manning competed for the United States in 1988, winning the bronze medal. Former KU coach Larry Brown was an assistant coach for the gold medal winning USA team at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, while former Jayhawk mentor Roy Williams was USA assistant coach at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, claiming the bronze medal.

Born in Tomsk, Russia, Kaun played at Kansas from 2005-08 and was a key reserve on KU’s 2008 NCAA National Championship team. Following graduation from Kansas in 2008, Kaun, who went to high school at Florida Air Academy in Melbourne, Fla., before attending KU, was selected in the second round of the NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, via Seattle, yet opted to play professionally for CSKA Moscow.

Kaun, who flew with his wife and former KU soccer player Taylor Blue from Russia to New Orleans for the 2012 NCAA Title game to support Kansas, is no stranger to representing his country in international play. He was also a member of the Russian National Team which competed in the 2010 World Championships in Turkey.

KU – it’s players, coaches and administrators – have played a big role in international basketball. Hall of Fame coach Forrest “Phog” Allen was instrumental in making basketball part of official Olympic competition in 1936. Allen served as an assistant coach on the USA’s 1952 Olympic team. Seven members of KU’s 1952 NCAA National Championship team joined a group of AAU players from Peoria, Ill., to form the 1952 U.S. Olympic team in Helsinki, Finland. Additionally, former Jayhawk Al Kelley was a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic team that was enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.