Kansas University made its official recruiting pitch to basketball high school blue-chipper Ben McLemore at the Oct. 15 Late Night in the Phog.
This weekend, Missouri takes it turn trying to impress the 6-foot-5, 185-pound senior shooting guard from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.
Rivals.com’s No. 17-rated player is scheduled to arrive in Columbia for his second and final official college campus visit sometime today — the same day MU’s football team is on the road for a Big 12 North Division showdown against Nebraska.
“Ben has told me he would visit Kansas and Missouri, then sit down with his family and get in decision-mode. After this, it is going to be decision time,” Rivals.com analyst Shay Wildeboor said Friday.
McLemore — he averaged 28.3 points and 12.5 boards a game at St. Louis Eskridge High last season — has said he will sign a letter-of-intent with KU or MU during the Nov. 10-17 early signing period.
“Kansas rolled out the red carpet with the Late Night visit and 16,300 fans. Now he’s going to Missouri,” Wildeboor said. “He’s been to the Jayhawk Invitational (AAU tournament last spring), KU’s Elite Camp (last summer) and Late Night. Being from St. Louis, he’s been to Missouri several times. He basically knows all there is to know about each school and each program.”
McLemore recently eliminated Tennessee from his list of schools.
“Kansas and Missouri ... those two schools have been the constant. It’s down to the two Big 12 North schools,” Wildeboor said.
McLemore, by the way, scored 25 points in Thursday’s 100-60 rout of Bluefield (Va.) College’s junior varsity. Oak Hill’s roster also includes Sidiki Johnson (Arizona), Quinn Cook (Duke, UCLA, Villanova), Daniel Gomis (Oregon State), Damien Wilson (Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee) and A.J. Hammons (Indiana, Marquette, Ohio State).
The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports that McLemore had “a crowd-pleasing dunk when he went over 7-footer Egor Shakhmetov.”
KU has received an oral commitment from No. 91-rated Naadir Tharpe, a 6-foot point guard from Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., and is also in the running for No. 19-rated Norvel Pelle, 6-8 from Price High in Compton, Calif., and No. 76 Angelo Chol, 6-8 from San Diego’s Hoover High.
Rush nets huge payday: Brandon Rush hit the jackpot Friday when the Indiana Pacers chose to pick up the fourth-year option on the former KU guard/forward’s contract, worth $2.9 million. Had the option not been picked up, Rush would have become an unrestricted free agent next July 1.
Rush, who has averaged 8.8 points and 3.7 rebounds in 157 NBA games, is two games into a five-game suspension for violating the NBA’s substance-abuse policy. The suspension is costing him $115,000 in salary.
He will not be eligible to play until a Nov. 9 home game against Denver.
Indiana coach Jim O’Brien is upset that the Pacers are allowed to suit only 11 players a game in Rush’s absence.
“I understand them suspending the player and withholding his wages for five games,” O’Brien told the Indianapolis Star. “The nature of the situation is that we’re not informed a player has failed the drug test the first or second time, and we’re not told he has a problem. Then they turn around and penalize a franchise.
“I don’t understand where that comes from, frankly. If we were the ones drug testing and we were the ones that knew and were responsible to get him back on track after the first one, I understand that, but I can't follow this. There’s no way of sugarcoating it: This is a disadvantage, especially with our group.”
Rush, who has been practicing with the second team, recently told the Indy Star: “I should be fine as long as I come out and show I’ve been putting in the work and I’ve changed my lifestyle. Everything should work out fine if I do those things.”
Pastner likes KU: Memphis coach Josh Pastner on the Tigers’ matchup against KU at the Jimmy V. Classic on Dec. 7 in New York: “We’re excited,” Pastner told Zagsblog.com’s Adam Zagoria. “We have a lot of games before then. Coach Bill Self is one of the best coaches in the country at any level, pro, college or high school. The guy’s a future Hall of Famer, and their team is going to be really good. It’s always an honor to play a team and a coach like Kansas.
“Second, what an awesome privilege to be playing at Madison Square Garden, a privilege for anybody. Third, the opportunity to be a part of the Jimmy V Classic. There’s nothing more important than what it represents.”