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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

VailHawk 1 year, 5 months ago

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

jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

Ben 7th?

The NBA. It's Dumbtastic!!!

Brett McCabe 1 year, 5 months ago

Don't tell me that I'm the only guy who wanted to hear Nerlens Noel say: "Dyn-O-Mite!" when asked how he felt about being drafted by the Pelicans.

eddiesuttonschoolofdriving 1 year, 5 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.

wrwlumpy 1 year, 5 months ago

KU Sports Blog reports EJ to the Clippers and Travis to the Pacers.

Boouk 1 year, 5 months ago

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

true_fan 1 year, 5 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?

Nick Cole 1 year, 5 months ago

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

Nick Cole 1 year, 5 months ago

Thanks Jesse. I was just being lazy and didn't want to look for it. But hey, that's what happens after you enjoy a couple adult beverages.

jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

Attention Adidas! Achtung!

Ben has just come up with a new addition to your sports apparel!!!

Pret a porter blazer, pant and shoe ensembles keyed to schools colors that are a great market crossover hedge between Tom Ford and Dapper Dan.

In fact, here's the commercial. Show Ben telling his mom he's got nothing to wear to the NBA draft, because he's been on an unpaid scholie. Show Mother McLemore flipping through some fashion mags Ben shows her regarding what he would like to look like. Show some of Tom Ford's candy color suits and some of Dapper Dan's hip hop threads. Cut to Mother McLemore cutting up a storm in her sewing room, then sewing madly!!!! Then cut to Mother McLemore at the NBA draft telling Ben to smile when he goes up to shake Stern's hand. Then POW!!!! Show Ben in the new look ensemble in school colors. Angle on Ben parting the coat to reveal the KU jersey liner with the Adidas logo and Ben winking. Cut to Ben and his mom walking through Times Square talking about how great it is to be in New York at last. Cut to Tom Ford and Dapper Dan walking together toward the camera and doing a double take and looking back as Ben in his suit and his mom in some cool threads walks by!!! Dapper says, "Holy Shizzz!!!" And Tom says: "Why didn't we think of that!!!" Cut to black screen with Adidas logo. On the sound track: 15 second piano chord from John Lennon's "A Day in the Life".

Now, Adidas, there's more than meets the eye here, dig?

The hook here, Adidas, is this: for every blazer, pant, shoe ensemble, you can line the coat with half a dozen different weird Technical Uniform jerseys you've been making the teams schlep to try to make up for those losses in the EU.

So: design one street ware ensemble, and you can sell it as, say, six different ensembles based on the jersey liners, or however many of these Tech Weird jerseys your designers can concoct.

Adidas Street Ware.

Achtung, baby!!!

Ready to Ware.

Ready to Bare.

(Note: All fiction. No malice.)

Redlandsjhawk 1 year, 5 months ago

JB I know you're kidding but that's not a bad idea.

jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

I agree, Redlands. Adidas or Nike will move on this. Might already be in the works before my joking proposal.

Adam Collins 1 year, 5 months ago

It's pretty awesome.

pic.twitter.com/PP3Uph4WSN

jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

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

VailHawk 1 year, 5 months ago

JB comment removed for violating usage agreement?! I hang on his every word, what am I to do now?

jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

CWGOKUINFLAMEDROIDS,

Cut aliai (the latinate plural of alias?) some slack and get your trifocals ground to recognize a tongue in cheek font, will ya!!!

jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

Let me rephrase then.

Jeff Withey not yet drafted?

The NBA. It's intelligence challenged-tastic!!!

wrwlumpy 1 year, 5 months ago

Welcome back, hope your healthy. Jaybate, you're just like Self. Start off with a technical so the site staff will allow the great American novel to take shape for the upcoming season

jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

wrwlumpy,

Thanks for the thought. I'm in the undiscovered country now. Too soon to tell if I'll ever get it all back. But I'm in posting rehab trying to get better. Have to start slowly and post small bites. Been to see the best doctors of postology at the iPosting Clinic. The rehab plan is for me to be back to 100% at the keyboard by the coming January. Have to clean up a few neural nets. Nothing major. Self would probably make me quilt up and post through, if it were mid season. But its off-season, so I'm taking things slowly. :-)

jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

There is now no question.

Self could win 10 rings in the NBA!

jaybate 1 year, 5 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.

Eric Schneider 1 year, 5 months ago

jb just so you know. Lebron James' high school team had a contract with Adidas. Bmac dropped because of his lack of an alpha dog mentality and his choice of people to surround himself with. Muhammed lied about his age, attitude problem with his teamates, and his dad is going to prison.

jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

Like the NBA cares about lying about your age?

About attitude problems of players that can ball?

About relatives in prison?

Don't you have any idea about the kind of folks that own NBA franchises?

Check it out.

You're in for a treat.

Steve Corder 1 year, 5 months ago

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

jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

If this draft were a weak one, then Ben should have gone much higher!

Right?

jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

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

Matt Tait 1 year, 5 months ago

No pics. They talked throughout the night at different times but I'm pretty sure they barely know one another. No need, though.

jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

Thx for the assessment!

Rock Chalk.

Michael Luby 1 year, 5 months ago

Man I hope KU doesn't have to vacate any wins for the Blackstock fiasco

jaybate 1 year, 5 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?!!!

Kyle Seiwert 1 year, 5 months ago

He fell because you've got a tall, average athlete that doesn't draw defenders away from the post and needs to bulk up to take advantage of his height, not to mention Withey's age and lack of upside. In other words, a classic second round pick. Could end up being a solid rotation guy over time, but probably not a starter. Defense first guys have a way of sticking around the NBA, and Withey sort of fits that mold. I don't mean to harp on it, but the age thing really is a huge factor. Dude is going to be 24 during the season next year, so realistically, as a GM, you've lost 4 years of development in your system. I am curious though, where would Withey have been a good fit earlier in the draft? Gobert has the potential to be a freak inside with his length, and he's young. Plumlee is the better athlete. I like the team Portland is putting together. Withey can backup Hickson and make an impact with McCollum in the second rotation.

jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

Let's see, Jeff fell with lack of upside.

Ben fell with lots of upside.

Jeff fell with little offense.

Ben fell with the best shot in the best body.

Jeff fell with great defense.

Ben fell with good defense.

Jeff fell versus guys with greater skill.

Ben fell versus guys with lesser skill.

What do you make of this exactly? :-)

nuleafjhawk 1 year, 5 months ago

What I make of it is that Jeff will prove the first 38 picks wrong and Ben should have stayed at KU another year.

Kyle Seiwert 1 year, 5 months ago

What I make of it is that you don't actually watch the NBA.

jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

dfyinfant21,

What I gather is that you couldn't explain spit. :-)

Next.

NebraskaJayhawk 1 year, 5 months ago

Regardless, Withey will have a long career in the NBA. He's too good of a defender not to. I agree with your assessment, dfybaby.

jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

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

stm62 1 year, 5 months ago

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

akgjenkintown 1 year, 5 months ago

Size, better offensive skills, and he is younger. Jeff is currently not strong enough to survive in the NBA. He needs to bulk up. He failed to put on the weight at KU and if he wants a career, he will need to change his approach.

KGphoto 1 year, 5 months ago

He can have a fine career as he is. He doesn’t have the upside of Len, but he can be a backup center for a decade or more, just like he is.

The guy is a shot blocker, a floor runner. He’s not a banger. Lots of guys have played well that were skinnier than him.

For example Marcus Camby has had a fantastic NBA career without ever being strong. He’s 6’11”, almost 40 and he STILL weights 235.

Tayshawn Prince 6’9” 215 (And he plays SF!) Reggie Miller 6’7” 195 Kevin Durant 6’9” 235 (Mmm. Looks more like 205 to me.) Richard Hamilton 6’7” 193

If Withey gets his jumper down, his athleticism will keep him in the league for a long time, but he’ll never be a banger.

Lonnie Snow 1 year, 5 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?

KGphoto 1 year, 5 months ago

New ownership in Sacramento. New coach, GM, everything. The Kings went through many misguided seasons after the Maloofs stupidly let Rick Adelman walk.

That town loves it’s Kings. The new ownership loves them enough to fork out 535 million to keep them in Sacramento. I think it could be a good run for Ben in NoCal. When they are winning, there are few places in the NBA that are more rabid than Sacramento. Remember, it’s the only major sports franchise in town.

justoneperson 1 year, 5 months ago

"I have to say it Orlando what were you thinking? "

Indeed

Jerry Tompkins 1 year, 5 months ago

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

bavarian 1 year, 5 months ago

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

wrwlumpy 1 year, 5 months ago

  1. Which team or player was the biggest winner of the 2013 NBA draft?

Jeff Goodman: Sacramento Kings. The Kings didn't think they'd have any shot at Ben McLemore, but there he was at No. 7 -- and Sacramento picked up arguably the most talented player in the entire draft.

nuleafjhawk 1 year, 5 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.

nuleafjhawk 1 year, 5 months ago

Lol - such great advice. So hard to actually do.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 1 year, 5 months ago

ha. I know. He got screwed, but 7th ain't bad. The only reason I hope he feels slighted is so he develops a chip on his shoulder and uses that to drive him.

But he's a good kid, and now he's rich. I think he'll take that.

Jack Wilson 1 year, 5 months ago

nuleaf -- great quote. And this is exactly why he dropped in the draft. An "alpha dog" would be pissed, would take offense, and would have a chip on his shoulder.

It is justifiably why NBA GMs may have thought he would develop into star material.

But who in this draft will? What I don't understand is when you compare attributes and warts, Ben surely falls top 5.

I would have drafted Otto Porter #1, then Ben.

justoneperson 1 year, 5 months ago

I get the idea of what you're saying (i.e. he's not aggressive enough with the ball).

But it's a sad state of affairs when the character guys (who are also good players) that just want to play and who act like adults by not getting bent out of shape over every little 'slight' come off as weaker players. You can be great at what you do without being a cocky a h. Better yet, you can have confidence in yourself without being egotistical.

And the public wonders why there are so many players with character issues in pro sports. I dare say that constantly going for the big ego alphas might be contributing to this problem...

Reuben_J_Cogburn 1 year, 5 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.

Matt Tait 1 year, 5 months ago

Checked everywhere I could and no one is commenting about it at all. Getting injury confirmations is the toughest thing to do and at this point we still don't know if it's even true. When we do, that's when we report. We're generally not in the business of spreading rumors and heresay.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 1 year, 5 months ago

thanks, Matt.

I figured that case, but on another KU site, they are posting tweets supposedly sent from MJM himself.

People were freaking out, and I hope it's nothing more than rumor mongering.

Tony Bandle 1 year, 5 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!!!!!!

jaybate 1 year, 5 months ago

Regarding 6--retiring for Machiavelli's has always been the way to get away with even more. Ask Vlad Putin.

Is the Dave just making himself harder to reach?

I wonder why?

My hunch is someone bigger than the Dave is closing in on wanting to own the NBA and its real reason for existence.

The NBA is $3.5 billion in shoes annually, basically.

And that number is set to skyrocket with China and India starting to lace them up in a big way.

Basketball shoes are petro-treads, as in black gold, Saudi tea.

Let's see.

Oil and a global shoe bidness that has to be fashioned into a tightly controlled oligopoly with appropriate structuring of stock holdings and market shares.

Who would be likely to want to take that position for the next century?

:-)

texashawk10 1 year, 5 months ago

In regards to your #4, I don't think Dallas regrets their decision to trade for Dirk considering he's going to be a hall of famer one day.

ku_foaf 1 year, 5 months ago

Quite a nice complement from LeBron James.

jaybate 1 year, 5 months 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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