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Monday, March 4, 2013

Keegan

Opinion: Goodbye, Ben McLemore; hello, Andrew Wiggins?

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Ben McLemore plays his 17th and final game in Allen Fieldhouse tonight, a freshman on Senior Night and the best player in the building, with the possible exception of his potential replacement, visiting recruit Andrew Wiggins.

Too in demand to play more than one season of college basketball, McLemore certainly has made the most of it and plays as if he relishes every Allen Fieldhouse moment.

You get out of something what you put into it, and to get an idea of how deeply invested McLemore has been in his one season as a college basketball player, consider what he will take from it.

For starters, he has made friends for life in his teammates. He has become more comfortable speaking in public, his game has improved to the extent he ranks No. 1 on many NBA Draft projections, and he has a legitimate shot to help his team win a national championship.

Plus, he’ll have no shortage of fieldhouse memories keeping him company forever. McLemore scored 33 points in the Iowa State game he sent into overtime by banking in a three-pointer. He torched Kansas State for 30 points in a blowout of Big 12 co-leaders, and he broke Danny Manning’s freshman school record with 36 points Saturday against West Virginia.

That’s 99 points in three games in which he attempted just a combined 40 field goals, making 31. He hit 17 of 23 threes and 20 of 22 free throws.

In 16 games in Allen Fieldhouse, McLemore has averaged 19.3 points, shot 53 percent overall and 49 percent from three-point range.

In nine true road games, McLemore has averaged 12.9 points and shot 44 percent overall and 28 percent from three, despite a strong game in the first one, at Ohio State.

But his road blues don’t qualify as cause for panic. Kansas has played four games on courts that were neither team’s regular home, three at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, one in Atlanta, against Michigan State. In those games, McLemore has averaged 14.3 points, shot 52 percent both overall and from three-point range. KU’s first two NCAA Tournament games likely will be played in the Sprint Center.

Besides, far more than the site of Saturday’s game influenced McLemore’s scoring outburst.

“He did a good job reading screens today, but we also did a good job screening for him,” KU coach Bill Self said.

“... We ran some stuff to make sure to give Ben the first opportunity to get some looks. We need to probably do more of that. We’ve done it, but he’s starting to understand more how to free himself.”

It’s quite possible the No. 1 overall picks in the next two NBA drafts will be in attendance tonight. If Wiggins likes what he sees and decides to come to Kansas, that would give the Jayhawks, who haven’t had the No. 1 overall selection since Manning in 1988, two in a row. Wiggins, a 6-foot-7, 200-pound wing, tops all the 2014 NBA Draft projections.

Comments

justanotherfan 1 year, 1 month ago

The other thing you have to remember with Ben is the value of the first million dollars for him. Right now, his family is struggling financially. The difference that first million would make RIGHT NOW is enormous compared to what a few million may do later in his career. Right now its the difference between struggle and a pretty good life. Later it will be the difference between an extra house/car/boat/etc.

Right now that money means so much more than it ever could later. Delaying for a year is delaying a better lifestyle for his family for another year. If any of us were in that position, we wouldn't think of waiting a year to change our family's life in such a monumental way. The first million is inherently more valuable than the next several.

1

RockChalkIowa2010 1 year, 1 month ago

Ben's long term success will largely be due to the team he joins and, more importantly, the system they run. Ben is not and will not be a slashing guard. His lack of aggressiveness absolutely needs to be worked on but it's not something he's going to "fix" in college. His game is to come off ball screens and use his athleticism to take his opponent to the basket if they over commit on his jump shot. He'll be a solid to strong defender with the potential to be great due to his athleticism and length. I think the best player comparison for him would be a rich man's rip hamilton. I know everyone likes to say Ray Allen because of how pure his stroke is but, realistically, I think for Ben to be utilizing ALL of his tools he should be much better at attacking the basket, playing above the rim, and locking down defenders than Allen. If he could do those things and have his stroke be 80% as pure and consistent as Allen's he'll have a long, successful career. Or - he could be drafted by the Bobcats and be out of the league in 5 seasons!

0

CHEEZIT 1 year, 1 month ago

I've always wondered what a loan officer would say to a player of Ben's caliber's parents if they asked for a loan until he was eligible for the NBA???

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Scott Smetana 1 year, 1 month ago

I wish the sports media would follow more closely what happens to all of the players that leave early. Funny how Selby was the media darling when he chose KU, now he's nowhere in the press. How many succeed? How many would leave early again? 54 players left 'early' for the NBA in 2008. I doubt half of them are making decent money and wish they had taken more advantage of college.

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Scott Smetana 1 year, 1 month ago

You think the NBA would love to see these kids develop in the NCAA before spending big bucks rather than sitting the bench. My problem is that these kids miss out on some of the best years of their life in college developing as people as well as players. They also don't realize that $1M does not go as far as you think it does, especially after taxes.

1

hawken 1 year, 1 month ago

Completely agree. This year is a weak draft and next year will be more competitive. He'll be lucky to make the top 5 next year. Would another year in school help him? Maybe even make him more money in the long run? Possibly, maybe even probably, but he'll make plenty of money and his family needs his help now.

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justanotherfan 1 year, 1 month ago

Ben McLemore will likely be a top 3 pick in the draft. There's no way he can improve on that next year. He absolutely has to go. I don't think its fair to judge a kid that is going to make a $14-$18 million decision. That's enough money to provide for his entire family if he is smart with his finances.

Too much could happen if he stays - injuries being the biggest thing. Remember, he's an athletic wing player. A bad injury that saps his athleticism could be a career killer. His shooting this season is nothing short of elite. I doubt that he can put together a better season next year, not because of talent, but really, how many times can you put together lines like 12-15 from the floor for 36 points, or 9-13 for 30 points, or 10-12 for 33 points? Only 3 times all season has he had more FGA than total points. Will he be that efficient next season? I doubt it, because that level of efficiency is rare. He's very nearly a 50/40/90 player at 51/44/87. That's elite level. There's no reason for him to be in Lawrence next year. Once the season ends, Bill Self should be helping him prep for the draft.

0

kennethst 1 year, 1 month ago

Ben will go. No doubt. Rio Adams will as well. He tweets he is not happy here at Kansas? Well....it's a free country and I'm sure he knows where the door is. Go.....leave.......There are plenty of very talented and good kids to take your place and will appreciate playing at KU.

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Justin Kruse 1 year, 1 month ago

I know Ben's situation is somewhat unique b/c of his family's financial situation, but I would love to see a kid pass on the NBA for a year or two just for the joy of the college experience. Yes, there's the risk of injury and maybe not having a year like the current one, and those are legit concerns b/c it does happen. But it's college; slow down and enjoy the worry-free life. I can't even imagine what it's like playing basketball for a living so it's hard to compare, but how many of us wish we could have extended our college days instead of going into the "real" world? The NBA will be there next year. I'm not saying Ben should stay b/c that's probably not the right decision for his family. Just saying be a kid for a while, you got the rest of your life to grow up.

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Bob Bailey 1 year, 1 month ago

Think about the guys who got picked high in the first round. What quality of team did they go to? Danny Manning went to the worst team in the country! Last year TRob went to one of the worst team's in the country -- and got traded first year.

The twins got a better shake. Maybe they'd be better off to get drafted somewhere between 11 and 22.

Going first -- or really high -- is bad news. Go to a team or coach that knows how to use you. You'll get more out of it than an early draft!

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kennethst 1 year, 1 month ago

I'm thinking Wiggins will go to Kentucky. KU a long shot.

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Colby Hebert 1 year, 1 month ago

This should be a very special senior night. I do not ever remember 4 of our starters having a senior night together.

2

Colby Hebert 1 year, 1 month ago

A lot of comments on why Ben should stay. I think he needs to go. People seem to forget he is a red shirt freshman. He will be the age of a Junior next year. His stock can only go down as there is nowhere to go but down. If he stays there is more chance for a new flavor of the month or teams going after a guy 2 years younger or what have you.

Not to be a homer but he is the best player I have ever seen play at Kansas in the time I have been a fan. Before I would have told you it was Paul Pierce. Paul Pierce will likely be a hall of famer I think Ben's ceiling is higher. He can shoot lights out, he is a .50 .40 .900 guy like a Steve Nash. His athleticism is almost inhuman, he floats through the air like Michael Jordan.

People talk of his development, all he needs to do is dribble a basketball all day and he will be one of the faces of the NBA in the future. Josh Selby, Xavier Henry, are not even in the same league as Ben and even mentioning them with him is ridiculous.

Ben's best quality may even be his humility. This is a good kid. Listens to his coaches, respects his teammates. He seems like a great kid. If anything he needs to become more selfish on the court because the team would be better.

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Rick Arnoldy 1 year, 1 month ago

"and final game" Typical Keegan arrogance. What wrong with writing "and most likely final game"?

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niemoth 1 year, 1 month ago

How good are Self and staff? They can take a rivals #34 recruit and make him a top 3 pick after 1 year of play (i know he had 2 years of practice), but nobody was talking about McLemore being a one and done before the year started. He takes other players that aren't highly touted as NBA type players and makes them pretty popular names around the country by the time they leave. I never thought Releford would play much, nor Conner Teahan, or Morningstar, or even Tyrel Reed. That's why Self has won 8 straight, he makes every player a lot better. Hopefully all the young players we have now and get in the future see what happens in the long run if you put in your time and see that Self will make you much better. Elijah was thinking of transferring and look at him now. He's a stud.

2

741hawk 1 year, 1 month ago

Good discussion. Thanks guys. RC

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Ethan Berger 1 year, 1 month ago

Let us dream for a second. What if we landed Randle and Wiggins along with keeping B mac? Does that make that team the most athletic team in KU history? All 3 guys can dunk while looking down on the rim. It would be sick but it is just a dream.

2

Tony Bandle 1 year, 1 month ago

What many of you fail to realize is that Ben's second most desired dream is to make it to the NBA. His number one dream is to secure his family's happiness forever. He has said this several times during his Wellston bball days here in St.Louis.

Not unlike his demeanor on the court whereby he was always defering to teamates first, I think in his heart he would love to come back to Kansas, but his family will always come first.

Remember, this young man had to convince his entire family and circle of friends that he wanted to be a Jayhawk and not a Tiger...and he did!!

My only regret for you is that you are going to get stuck with a really crappy team......hang in there and do your best!!

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FearlessJayhawk 1 year, 1 month ago

Let's have one more stellar performance for the fans!

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vd 1 year, 1 month ago

For people who think Ben should come back: Jacque Vaughn Matt Barkley Brandon Rush

Stayed and lost big $$$$$$$

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Bill John 1 year, 1 month ago

Selby is a one dimensional player, just got cut by Cleveland.

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KUFANinMobile 1 year, 1 month ago

Mclemore goes to the NBA after this year. This incredible athlete sat as an inactive player on the bench all of last year. He has two years of college practice experience and is in no comparison to Henry and Selby. Mclemore has been a great player to watch this year and I cannot wait to see him play in the NBA. I no doubt will become a follower of whatever team he lands on. I'd like to see him and the team end this year on a fantastic run in the tournament.

1

RoyRCJHawk 1 year, 1 month ago

BMac had two (2) yrs on the Hill. The first a test of character - the second his reward for passing w/ flying colors. Nothing but love for the dude...go get the cash Ben...and who knows, maybe we'll hang a banner in memory of the ETJK&B club.

2

BPSkelly 1 year, 1 month ago

First off, that kid is going pro weather we want him to or not. If someone is going to make you a top 5 pick -- which barring a major injury at this point is assured -- there's no reason for him to stay. Banter about all one would like about the woulda, coulda, shoulda. There are valid arguments either way. To me, the fact that the new CBA is even more restrictive with the rookie/draft salary is the most outwardly valid argument against going. Odds are he'd be no worse draft list-wise next year. The injury risk is there though. And this is a weak draft, Mclemore stands out even moreso than he likely would next year. The fact that Noel can have a devastating knee injury and his projected draft slot has barley budged speaks to this years class, or lack of one. -- The argument folks make about guys who stayed longer has some merit. But id argue that all those guys were better than the guys who left early in general. Now, development has something to do with it. But those guys ceiling was higher to begin with than a lot of those other guys who left early. Lets face it. The real money comes from the second contract in the NBA usually. Or 3rd if guys are really damn good. Does anyone here think the Ben McLemore ISNT going to get a 2nd contract? Me neither.

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jimmyjms 1 year, 1 month ago

Did any of you read the piece recently about Ben's background? The kid has endured poverty, and now some of you want him to turn his back on guaranteed millions?

Ben should do what's right for him. I'd love to see him wear the Crimson and Blue for another year, but he and his family are looking at a once in a lifetime opportunity.

4

Steve Yeakel 1 year, 1 month ago

Andrew - Ben has shown that you can be a humble team first player who feels comfortable and appreciated and loved without being driven crazy by the attention, plus be the #1 pick in the NBA. You have found just what you are looking for here. We hope you choose to join KU.

1

wagg 1 year, 1 month ago

It will help Self and KU in the long run if Ben goes #1 in the draft. Self needs recruits to see that they can excel and improve their draft stock in his program and they need to see that it can be done without Manning's influence. I want to see Ben stay, but the long range implications of his draft position probably outweigh what he could accomplish by staying another year.

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mattiesdad 1 year, 1 month ago

Stayed 3+ years and made a legit impact on an NBA team (Roy/Self eras): Pierce, Gooden, Collison, Hinrich, Chalmers, Vaughn

Left after 2- and were never heard from again: Wright, X Henry, Selby, Arthur (you could argue he's had some impact, but not much)

Aldrich, Jackson, Rush, Collins stayed but have been marginal to no NBA impact. Verdict's still out on the Morris twins, T-rob, and Ty.

Who did I miss?

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Rock_Chalk_25 1 year, 1 month ago

Ben is gone after this year, as he should be. He has been a blessing for our program, and our program has been a blessing for him. Let him do what he was born to do---be a professional basketball player.

1

Phil Leister 1 year, 1 month ago

I think a lot of you are forgetting that Ben is a sophomore academically. He's been in Lawrence two years, and been practicing under Self for 1.5 years. For anyone hoping for him to come back another year to develop, you're forgetting all the guys who did that and didn't get any better. He's got nothing to gain by coming back, not when the 1 or 2 pick is already his.

1

Clarence Haynes 1 year, 1 month ago

"For starters, he has made friends for life in his teammates. He has become more comfortable speaking in public, his game has improved to the extent he ranks No. 1 on many NBA Draft projections, and he has a legitimate shot to help his team win a national championship."

Moreover he has two invaluable years of college coursework!

0

nostradavid 1 year, 1 month ago

While watching the highlights on the Bill Self show tonight, I thought the baseline dunk Ben stuffed looked just like a young Michael Jordan. We will be watching highlights of Ben for years to come.

Wilt played volleyball and other sports, too...

Big strike zone

Big strike zone by nostradavid

1

Scott MacWilliams 1 year, 1 month ago

Trueblue, have you read the USA Today article about Ben's family situation? It is dire poverty, and his family's need for his financial support is real and present. He will go and we should not worry about his longterm prospects, I think, because he knows full well how to apply himself and continue to improve his game.
Ben is a remarkable young man, beyond his enormous basketball skills, and it has been a joy to watch him grow in confidence these last few months.

Thanks for being a Jayhawk Ben, and we will always pull for you and your family no matter where you play!

Rock Chalk, Jayhawks!!!

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Joseph Bullock 1 year, 1 month ago

PS: One year wonder, Josh Selby, just got cut by the Cavs!!!!!!! O bet he now wishes he would have come back and played at least one more year. All I can say to Ben is: ONE MORE YEAR!

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741hawk 1 year, 1 month ago

Two things we know . . . . 1) Ben still has some parts of his game to work on. 2) He can't turn down the money as a top draft choice in the NBA.

Worthy of conversation. Possibly worthy of some research: Using KU players in the NBA (limited sample, I know), it seems to me that those who stay in college three of four years might make a lot more career money than those who go after their first year.

Pierce, LaFrentz, Henrich, Gooden, Collison stayed three and four years. Won't they make more money in their careers than Selby, Henry and Julian Wright, for example, who took the initial money, but were incomplete players when they did?

Once you are in the NBA, it is very difficult to develop. Hotel rooms are many, practices are few, and if you aren't playing a lot, you get even less practice time.

Just thinkin'. The question being, would Ben make more money, in the long run, by staying another year?

Buehler? Anyone? Anyone?

2

Robert Rauktis 1 year, 1 month ago

I hope Ben forgets they play the tournament on the road.

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