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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Keegan

Opinion: Ben McLemore inspired by Paul Pierce, LeBron James

Kansas guard Ben McLemore extends all his limbs as he defends against an inbound pass from Ohio State forward Sam Thompson during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 at Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Kansas guard Ben McLemore extends all his limbs as he defends against an inbound pass from Ohio State forward Sam Thompson during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 at Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio.

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His spectacular plays and high-rising ways leave basketball fans enjoying watching Kansas University freshman Ben McLemore compete as much as he enjoys playing the game.

His hunger to improve is evident by how smoothly McLemore has taken to playing with the well-disciplined, experienced talent that surrounds him.

His dedication to turning his extraordinary athletic ability into productive basketball moves both predates his association to Kansas and has roots in KU basketball tradition.

“Junior year in high school, I went to LeBron James’ camp and to Paul Pierce’s camp,” McLemore said in a recent interview. “First time meeting Paul Pierce, watching his footwork and style of play, I said, ‘That’s how I play. That’s my game.’ I started moving in slow motion just like him, told myself, ‘I need to imitate his game and see how far I can go with this.’”

Funny, Pierce’s name has been coming up a lot lately in the same sentence as McLemore’s, as in, “KU’s best player since Paul Pierce.”

McLemore also has studied LeBron’s game.

“He’s such a great player, offensively and defensively, giving 110 percent every night,” McLemore said. “He’s just aggressive every night. He’s 6-8, what, 250? And he’s so quick on his feet. Awesome player. I really like his game. He’s always in attack mode. He’s strong, and he’s fast, and he’s ready to play every time.”

McLemore said the highlight of the James camp came when he played on a team that played against LeBron’s team.

“We were winning the whole game, and then he just took over,” McLemore said. “I had a smile on my face the whole camp.”

After what amounted to a most productive basketball summer school for McLemore, he set about trying to apply what he had learned.

“My senior year in high school, I tried to put those two (Pierce and James) together and play my game of basketball,” McLemore said. “I have the same mind-set of both players, and I try to put them together as me.”

Since coming to Kansas, McLemore said he has studied the game of Travis Releford, whom he calls “a great player. He knows what he’s got to bring to the team.”

McLemore is fortunate to have a rare blend of team-minded basketball students, all seniors, surrounding him in the starting lineup. Wisely, they celebrate his special talent and don’t resent it. As elite college basketball players go, Kansas has a very humble bunch this season.

Humble, yet confident. McLemore said his motto — “It’s OK to be great” — was given him by an AAU coach, Darius Cobb.

It’s better than OK to watch impending greatness in an athlete playing so far above the rim while lifting his team up toward rarefied air.

Comments

Joel Thomas 1 year, 3 months ago

Some off topic comments: Apparently shoe companies do matter, though in the cited case, not enough (http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/story/20443349/battle-for-harrison-twins-really-a-contest-between-calipari-under-armour). It was tough to lose out on Kaleb Tarczewski. Finally got a look at him against SDSU. While he didn't do much, it would have been nice to have a post player one year better (assuming he'd have gotten starter's PT next year). Though Withey is showing us a post player needn't be bulky (someone said Withey disappears when he turns sideways).

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jgkojak 1 year, 3 months ago

Anyone picked in the Top 5 would be a fool to stay in school, period. You are risking double-digit millions against injury (the insurance policies they take out don't match that kind of money).

It would be nice to have him again, but if he comes out and is the next NBA superstar, developed by Self at Kansas, that helps our recruiting in huge ways. Other than Mario and Rush many of our other good players have been NBA benchers recently - so it'd be good to see McLemore be the man.

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KansasComet 1 year, 3 months ago

I do not see Ben McLemore as a mix of any two players nor does he remind me of anyone. I think he is the first Ben McLemore. This young man is quite unique. Never have I seen a player so talented, yet so unassuming. He is an absolute pleasure to watch. I had been hoping this young fellow would pick Kansas since he was a sophomore in High School. I was overjoyed when he decided to come to KU. I love watching his put back dunks, the way he finishes at the rim, hustles for loose balls, gets himself in great position for open looks, gets others involved and looks like he is having the time of his life out on the court. If he can graduate from KU in three years, or even come close to earning his degree with the help of summer courses, I would love for him to come back one more season as long as it is to his benefit.

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iamakufan 1 year, 3 months ago

Several times when I've heard or read comments that McLemore reminds someone of Brandon Rush I've told my wife he reminds me more of Paul Pierce than Brandon Rush. The big difference, in my opinion, is Bill Self will give McLemore much more freedom to create than Roy Williams ever gave Paul Pierce.

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Jayhawk470 1 year, 3 months ago

Could he be the next Michael Jordan?

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FearlessJayhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

I don't have any idea what his ceiling is, but if he continues to improve and avoid injury, he will be an all-pro some day.

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Jack Wilson 1 year, 3 months ago

McLemore seems to me like a mix between Dominique Wilkens and Ray Allen.

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REHawk 1 year, 3 months ago

In a divergent vein, if the NCAA allows, I wish Bill Self would host an open simulated game scrimmage Tuesday night. The current starters and walk-ons vs. Traylor, Ellis, Tharpe, Lucas, White and Adams. Self and his choice of assistants coach the B squad, with extended timeouts for instructional purposes. Cost for admission, a canned item for the Lawrence food pantry. I would really love to see those first year players engaged in a full 40 minutes of competitive play.

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REHawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Nick Krug and Tom Keegan: Really nice photo and article. If Ben keeps a'comin', in the manner that Bill Self has projected for him, he is bound to depart after this season for a bundle of money. A player who possesses the talent to go make a successful play, even when the offense is running nothing extraordinary: a coach's dream!

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Jonathan Allison 1 year, 3 months ago

I have to agree with Kellerman.

If BMac is back next year then that means that something has gone terribly wrong.

Only way BMac is back next year is if he his a huge slump and his draft position falls way off or if he gets injured. There is also a slight chance he could come back next year if KU has a disappointing end to the season and he wants to come back for another shot at the championship.

The best case scenario for BMac and for KU is that he leads KU to a championship, his draft stock is higher than ever and he goes to the NBA. That's the only scenario that I will hope for.

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Beate Williams 1 year, 3 months ago

Paul got a bad rap and it carried on through his rookie season. Carter went to the Raptors and was on ESPN highlight all the time because of his dunks, which also won him the rookie of the year, yet Paul's season in every statistical category was better than Carter's. I really believe that Paul's skill set has been unappreciated for most of his career but when you look at what he has done he has had an outstanding career, hall of fame career, which people are finally beginning to really appreciate.

I think Paul falling so low in the draft did work out for him, going to the Celtics was probably the best thing in the world because of the history, much better than going to the Raptors, the Clippers, etc

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HawksWin 1 year, 3 months ago

Great photo of Ben who looks like a hawk that is staring down at his prey, the ball!

Would someone at LJW do a follow-up story on how Ben's mom feels about KU or does she still believe he should have gone to MU? Glad he didn't listen to his mom, just this once :)

Nice article on our "precocious freshman" following the OSU game.
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/college-basketball/news/20121222/kansas-tops-ohio-state/?sct=uk_bf3_a2

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KULA 1 year, 3 months ago

I'd love to see how good Ben could become with another year here, but if he's gonna be a top ten lottery pick, it wouldn't be wise to spend another year in college and take a chance on an injury. With the short career pro athletes already have, every year in college can cost them literally millions.

And as for Paul, I remember draft day (after his junior year, and I think Roy's first player to leave early). As he dropped to 10th, after being expected to go much earlier, you could see the hurt in his eyes with each passing pick. You had to feel for him. But boy did he prove all those GM's wrong. Anyone remember some of the players who were picked ahead of him--besides Raef?

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MinnesotaJay 1 year, 3 months ago

"It’s better than OK to watch impending greatness in an athlete playing so far above the rim while lifting his team up toward rarefied air."

Special!

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amatxjayhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Didn't Paul Pierce play three years or was it two?

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Ron Franklin 1 year, 3 months ago

I Hope we get more than one year of watching this kid at KU.

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