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Originally published June 27, 2013 at 09:33p.m., updated June 28, 2013 at 12:32a.m.

His moment of Truth? Ben McLemore goes No. 7 in NBA Draft to Sacramento Kings

NBA Commissioner David Stern, left, shakes hands with Kansas' Ben McLemore, who was selected by the Sacramento Kings in the first round of the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 27, 2013, in New York.

NBA Commissioner David Stern, left, shakes hands with Kansas' Ben McLemore, who was selected by the Sacramento Kings in the first round of the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 27, 2013, in New York.

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Associated Press

Kansas' Ben McLemore, picked by the Sacramento Kings in the first round of the NBA basketball draft, speaks during a news conference Thursday, June 27, 2013, in New York.

— Those at Ben McLemore’s NBA Draft table at the Barclays Center on Thursday night might have been a little surprised that the former Kansas University standout was still sitting next to them when the seventh pick in this year’s draft rolled around.

But when the Sacramento Kings snagged McLemore at No. 7, each one of them turned his thoughts to another former Jayhawk who unexpectedly slipped down the board on draft night 15 years ago.

His name was Paul Pierce, and all he has done since leaving KU after his junior season in 1998 is go on to win an NBA title with the Boston Celtics, earn Finals MVP and play in 10 All-Star games.

It may be a little too early to predict that kind of path for McLemore, but there are plenty of people who think that’s within the realm of possibilities.

“Paul went into the draft with the chance to go 1 and he went 10,” KU coach Bill Self told the Journal-World at the draft. “And I think he used that to his advantage. I think Ben should do the same thing. But the best part about Ben is he’s not one bit upset about going seventh or anything like that. He just wants to go play ball.”

Although many, including McLemore, expected the 6-foot-5, smooth-shooting forward to be long gone by the time NBA Commissioner David Stern announced Sacramento’s selection Thursday, one McLemore supporter drew serious attention for voicing that opinion.

With McLemore slowly slipping down the board, his spirits were lifted by a quick message from his brother, Kevin, who told him about a tweet from reigning NBA MVP LeBron James.

At 7:04 p.m., the man many call the best player in the world, tweeted a hefty endorsement McLemore’s way.

“They sleeping on Ben McLemore,” @KingJames wrote to his nearly 9 million followers. “Just watch.”

Less than 15 minutes later, McLemore, who sported a replica of his No. 23 KU jersey sewn into the inside of his suit jacket, was wearing his new Kings hat and blissfully answering questions from the media about his new home.

Asked about the tweet from James and how well he knew him, McLemore tried to play it cool.

“I know him pretty well,” McLemore said. “(From) going to his camps my junior year and then just getting to meet him and stuff like that. He’s a great guy. I looked up to him a lot.”

The look on McLemore’s face while answering the question revealed that the unexpected tweet was a definite highlight.

Before making the walk across the stage, McLemore handed out hugs and soaked up some words of encouragement from those in his corner who aren’t the best players on the planet. McLemore said Self’s message summed it all up perfectly.

“He told me he wasn’t expecting to be here, but, you know, that’s family,” McLemore said. “He’s a part of my family. And he was just telling me, keep a smile on your face and go do what you know you can do and that’s to play ball.”

In Sacramento, McLemore joins a young team in a city whose fan base recently overturned a near move to Seattle.

“I don’t know everything that’s going on with that,” Self said. “But obviously the Kings mean something to that community because they fought so hard to keep ’em.”

Added McLemore agent Rodney Blackstock, who said he loved the situation McLemore was drafted into: “Coming from KU to Sacramento is like coming home. He’s going from one passionate fan base to another, and it’s exciting to know he’s heading into such a great situation. Sacramento’s a great city. He’s gonna love it, and they’re gonna love him.”

Self said the small-market nature of the Kings was something that would benefit McLemore because instead of worrying about outside distractions and pressures, he can focus his time and energy on playing ball, maturing and getting better. The latter is something Self believes will happen quickly.

“In this draft, beauty’s in the eye of the beholder,” Self said. “But from an upside standpoint, this kid’s just started to scratch it.”

ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla, who has called a lot of KU games during the past few years, said he saw McLemore to Sacramento as a decent fit, provided the Kings can figure out one thing.

“I like it,” Fraschilla told the Journal-World. “They’ve gotta get him the ball, though. I love Ben. He’s a great player, and he’s a great kid.”

According to the rookie pay scale posted at

HoopsWorld.com, McLemore will make more than $7.5 million during his initial three-year contract: $2.4 million in Year 1, $2.5 million in Year 2 and $2.6 million in Year 3.

He became the second Jayhawk in a row to be drafted by the Kings in the first round of the NBA draft. In 2012, Sacramento selected Thomas Robinson with the No. 5 overall pick. Although Robinson has since been traded away, McLemore said he loved knowing that the Kings like Jayhawks.

“FOE,” he said, referencing KU’s long-standing team mantra of “Family Over Everything.” “I’m ready. And I’m happy to be part of the Sacramento family.”

Comments

jaybate 9 months, 4 weeks ago

David Stern aka the exception to the rule that power is an aphrodisiac.

Stern could walk into a whore house and trigger a wildcat strike.

Stern could turn a love boat full of nymphomaniacs into garbage scow full of frigid mutineers.

Just kidding, Le Dave.

You are TOO HOT!!!

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ku_foaf 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Quite a nice complement from LeBron James.

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Tony Bandle 10 months ago

RANDOM THOUGHTS.

1] Can someone please tell me how much his relationship with Blackstock cost Ben i.e. the $$$$ difference between being #2 and #7??

2] That may end up being one damn expensive birthday party.

3] I sure hope KU has Andrea "locked up" as part of the KU staff for the next two decades.

4] If I recall. Paul was major league pi$$ed at being drafted #10....i am pretty sure he has made those first nine teams pay over and over!!

5] The new NBA commissioner reminds me of the bald assassin who got away in the movie, "Smokin' Aces".

6] I am sure Stern will retire and never interfere with the NBA again.......NNNOOOTTT!!!!!!

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Reuben_J_Cogburn 10 months ago

Sorry to interrupt here with football, but can someone explain to me why I'm seeing tweets and rumors about Marcus Jenkens-Moore tearing his ACL on the first day of workouts, and yet KUsports.com has not even commented on it in any capacity?

Dude was supposed to be a stud. This would be extremely detrimental.

Tait, you're lettin us down, bra.

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nuleafjhawk 10 months ago

"But the best part about Ben is he’s not one bit upset about going seventh or anything like that. He just wants to go play ball.”

I don't often disagree with Bill Self, but I sure do disagree with this statement. I'M ticked off about BMAC going 7th and he should be too.

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bavarian 10 months ago

I wish the Kings were back in Kansas City now!!

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midwest_muser 10 months ago

Is there a way to filter out all the Jaybate noise?

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Jerry Tompkins 10 months ago

So what happened to Jeff was he not drafted by the deadline for this article?

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Lonnie Snow 10 months ago

Um well I'm happy for BMac he can now with good people around take care of himself and family. I glad so many of you are trying to be nice but the kings are terrible and one player will not help that team, so playing time yes (I hope) but learning how to lose? I have to say it Orlando what were you thinking?

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stm62 10 months ago

First of all, congrats to Ben. Secondly, what does the kid from Maryland have over Withey ?

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jaybate 10 months ago

Adidas, it's time to call Blackstone and say, "this going to cost more than we thought!"

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jaybate 10 months ago

Withey 39th?

Portland?

The Portand GM is Neil Olshey, a former soap opera actor turned Artesia, CA high school assistant coach, who ran some pre draft training camps and voila! He became A GM!

I rest my case on NBA GMs.

Why didn't David Sterne just send Jeff to Siberia?!!!

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jaybate 10 months ago

Jesse, any pics of Self and Blackstock? Does their relationship appear cordial? Or non-existent?

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Steve Corder 10 months ago

Nice kid. Good money and potential for more, but this pick represents the overall weakness in this draft.

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jaybate 10 months ago

NBA = Nike Basketball Association

As of January, 2012, the Sports Business Daily reported that Nike controlled as much as 97 percent of NBA player endorsement deals for shoes. http://m.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Daily/Issues/2012/01/09/Marketing-and-Sponsorship/Shoe-Contracts.aspx

I wonder if Ben playing for an Adidas school like KU influenced Ben's slide?

Shabazz Muhammad played for an Adidas school, too. And Shabazz slid way down.

Would someone please post the Top 15 Draft picks, their schools, and the ShoeCos their coaches and schools are contracted with?

Just wondering.

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Terran Woolley 10 months ago

Nice jacket liner! First or seventh.....they all make good jack!

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jaybate 10 months ago

There is now no question.

Self could win 10 rings in the NBA!

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jaybate 10 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Nick Cole 10 months ago

Can we get a pic of the suit jacket with the jersey?

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true_fan 10 months ago

Don't understand the slide to 7, but congratulations to Ben. If he keeps his head on straight and gets some decent advice, he and his family should be able to be comfortable and secure for generations. Let's hope the Kings prove to be a good fit.

Don't understand Withey still on the board either...

Rock Chalk... is it time for Late Night?

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Boouk 10 months ago

Hopefully the new regime in Sacramento get rid of DeMarcus Cousins and find Ben a PG to give him the ball.

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eddiesuttonschoolofdriving 10 months ago

The Kings were a mess but have a new coach, GM, and most importantly ownership. The fans are back in a big way and are rabid with a new arena on the way. Expectations won't be too big in Sacto given the media there and he could form a good young nucleus with DeMarcus Cousins and Isiah Thomas so long as BMac and Cousins mature a bit. The team is young and he should have time to blend into the new offense. I think it's a really good fit for him to develop and get playing time without too much pressure. Look for him, and the Kings, to emerge in his third season.

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jaybate 10 months ago

Ben 7th?

The NBA. It's Dumbtastic!!!

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VailHawk 10 months ago

I'm happy for Ben, but don't know about the Kings. They left KC and gave up on TRob...

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