Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rising above: Ben McLemore elevates above adversity

Kansas guard Ben McLemore flashes his tongue after a put-back dunk against Emporia State during the second half, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ben McLemore flashes his tongue after a put-back dunk against Emporia State during the second half, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.



Kansas guard Ben McLemore flashes his tongue after a put-back dunk against Emporia State during the second half, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

He rises up, winds up, throws down a monster dunk, and in a blink 16,300 spectators also rise up and roar approval. All of them wish they could do the same. Ben McLemore smiles and sprints so smoothly to the other end of the court.

What must it be like to be McLemore, Kansas University basketball star, floating sky-walker, owner of a million-dollar smile and a jump shot to match?

For a little insight, listen to his response when asked to name the happiest day of his life.

“The happiest day of my life is every day just being here,” McLemore said during a one-on-one interview Wednesday. “Waking up every morning and being able to see my family, my teammates, my coaches and being able to play basketball, the game I love.”

But before thinking he has it all, that his life can’t get any better and his heart never aches, consider his answer when asked to identify the saddest day of his life.

“The saddest day of my life is every day, not being able to see my big brother,” McLemore said. “Him not being able to see my first game. Him not seeing me play anymore. That’s pretty sad. I can’t bring him here by wishing to God he was here. That definitely is the saddest thing in my life.”

Ben’s brother Keith Scott, eight years his senior, is locked up in maximum-security Potosi Correctional Center in Mineral Springs, Mo., for “things he did that he wishes he never did,” Ben said. “When I go back home for Christmas break, I have a chance to visit him. He’s been in almost five years now. His birthday’s on Christmas Day.”

Ben remembers the first time he dunked on his older brother in St. Louis, their hometown.

“We were playing at the Rec Center, and I caught him by surprise,” McLemore said. “I guess he didn’t think I could do it. He chased me down on the fast break. I jumped and dunked it on him and he was like, ‘Wow! That’s my little brother?’ I think I was a freshman in high school. I had fun playing against him. He had fun playing against me.”

Ben McLemore III, son of Sonya Reid, is the fourth of her five children.

“I learned a lot from my three older sisters growing up,” McLemore said. “I look up to them, and they tell me things they went through, and they tell me they don’t want me to do those same things.”

He listens and in turn dispenses advice to his younger brother, Kevin, a senior on the Normandy High basketball team in St. Louis, where, older brother Ben proudly pointed out, Kevin totaled 15 points, seven assists and five steals in a recent game. Kevin’s the last of the McLemore basketball players, but far from the first.

Ben said he inherited his smile from his mother, his athletic gifts from his father, Ben McLemore II.

“People who saw my dad play in high school, they tell me, ‘Your pop, he was nice. He used to run the Spectrum, he used to take over and dunk on people. It was crazy.’ The court we played on at the Spectrum in St. Louis, there was a hoop that was taller (than regulation). People tell me there was only one guy who dunked on that hoop. Then my dad dunked on it, and there were two guys then,” McLemore said, smiling. “He surprised me before one of my games this year, came to my room. I was shocked, almost came to tears. I hadn’t seen him in a while.”

In October of 2011, he experienced a shock of a different sort along with teammate and classmate Jamari Traylor. They were told that the NCAA ruled they would not be allowed to participate in practice or games the first semester of their freshman year, but could earn with success in the classroom the right to practice without playing in games second semester.

“My heart broke down,” McLemore said. “Still, in my head I thought maybe this is a blessing, maybe God did this for a reason. And it was a blessing. I took it and told myself I’m not going to let that stop me. I’m going to work hard every day on and off the court.”

McLemore fell just short of a 3.0 grade-point average first semester and studied his way onto the Big 12 honor roll second semester with a GPA that exceeded 3.0.

“That means a lot to me,” McLemore said. “I worked very hard last year on my academics, and my mom was proud of me.”

He’s not bashful in taking pride in his basketball accomplishments during that time.

“Second semester came around, and we were eligible,” he said. “Our first practice was at Sprint Center, and it was a great practice. I decided then I was going to take every practice like it was game night. We got better, and our teammates got better, and as you can see, we made it to the Final Four and the championship game.”

Seven games into his college career, McLemore leads the team in scoring (14.9 points per game) and free-throw percentage (.840), ranks second in steals and dunks and third in rebounds and blocked shots.

Numbers can’t capture what McLemore said he believes life as a student at KU has done for his personal development.

“I love it here,” McLemore said. “I’m learning to take on more responsibility with different things in my life, not needing as much help with things. Going to college, you want to learn how to do things and not always ask for help. It’s nice to be able to say, ‘OK, I can do that on my own. I’m becoming a man now.’”

He said he played football as a sophomore and junior in high school and was used as a wide receiver, tight end, defensive end, punter and kicker. He said he played some baseball and was used as a center fielder, but his first love never has changed.

“I just remember picking up a basketball and dribbling and thinking, ‘This is what I want to do. I want to play basketball.’ I grew up in a basketball family, and it just excited me to play basketball,” he said. “I always used to get a basketball for Christmas.”

McLemore’s signature play, the one-handed dunk, mirrors what he has done in life to this point. He has risen up above his surroundings. Nothing about the way he conducts himself suggests that he will allow basketball to use him. He already seems to understand he can use basketball to carve out a better life. He makes his primary goal in life sound so simple.

“I just want to make my family proud,” McLemore said.


Doug Merrill 10 years ago

Actually it is very well written. I particularly appreciate the phrasing around not allowing basketball to "use"him. Really great kid and very good writing. Thanks Mr. Keegan!

Dirk Medema 10 years ago

Ben McLemore III, son of Sonya Reid, is the fourth of her five children.

1 older brother 3 older sisters Ben 1 younger brother = 5th of 6 children or why would you add a sentence seemingly just to draw attention to different fathers?

Ethan Berger 10 years ago

not all those have to be from the mom. I think a couple are from the Dad.

Jack Jones 10 years ago

Hawkit - dagger, It's great to read what's so damned important to you about this terrific story. And especially to dag, what's interesting (to me), is that I read and re-read the story several times and it still is only your comment that takes me down that crazy path.

actorman 10 years ago

Maybe because it's informational, and this is a story about what Ben's life has been like???

I agree that the wording is awkward, but I don't have a problem with being told about that part of his life.

Michael Bratisax 10 years ago

I agree, most of us have no idea how hard it can be for kids growing up in places we would never venture into and still find a way to achieve their goals. Ben is made of the right stuff.

Hurinfan 10 years ago

I love this guy. I've only heard great things about him and he is probably our first justifiable one and done.

Jim Erickson 10 years ago

Should we call it a 1 and 1/2 and done since he red shirted?

KJD 10 years ago

I get the one and done option when the player is clearly a lottery pick. There is a professional career waiting for that player and the person has the opportunity to be a great bread winner for his family. Bill Self has commented several times on his openness about his players leaving when the NBA is waiting with their millions. Ben McLemore is a lottery pick this next draft if he chooses that.

Still, I don’t like to think about one and done during the season. Bill doesn’t like having his players talking about the NBA during the season. He probably would prefer if they didn’t think about it much either.

While reading an article like this I like to think of players of this caliber being four and done. Yeah, maybe that is a fantasy in this day in age when our society values money, that it is all about the money, just like conference officials and school administrators behave in their decision making. Yet Ben, the player, enjoys waking up every day to be with his family, his team mates and spending his time in the great community that is the University of Kansas in Lawrence. That is what he is doing right now and right now it is all about the family. I like thinking that some players would choose to spend a little more time with the family before heading off to the grind of the NBA.

Julian Wright was two and done. Paul, Drew, Brandon, Mario, Cole, Markieff, Marcus and Thomas were three and done. When I read an article like this I don’t automatically assume that Ben is one and done. I prefer to wait until it happens. I agree with you that Ben sounds like a young man that could handle the one and done. Still, he has the option to choose one or even two more years of being with the Kansas family every day, finishing his college degree, building a legacy, and pursuing championships as a leader.

Michael Bratisax 10 years ago

Has there ever been an age when society doesn't value money or something equivalent?

KJD 10 years ago

Yes. In relationship to prioritizing family and community before riches, there are plenty of examples throughout history. Too numerous to even begin a list. Saying 'society' in context of the post is fairly nebulous if you are going to open up the topic to history. Also, I'm not even saying if he leaves that it is a good or bad choice. He has a choice to go when he wants to go. The probability of him making millions and taking care of his family his quite high with his abilities which is true no matter when he chooses to declare for the draft. No matter what he'll always be apart of the KU basketball family like all of the other round ball alumns though he won't be waking up everyday in the KU community which he values quite a lot right now.

milehighhawk 10 years ago

Too numerous to list?

Try naming one.

KJD 10 years ago

A society is a voluntary association of individuals for common ends. So the ends do not have to be commercial, financial nor monetary in nature. The Amish Society in the United States is a good example. Frontline has good documentary on the Amish plus a six part series called God in America which touches upon our Christian Agrarian past. Pilgrams landing on Plymouth rock left Europe to pursue a community, culture and society based on their hope that their destiny would be shaped by their interpretation of the Holy Bible. In Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John Jesus expels the money changers from the temple due to the stain of their commercial activities. The Lakota Indian Nation were nomadic hunter and gathers which opens up a whole other kind of list. To offer an Asian example would be Tibet as it was guided by the 14 Dalai Lamas and the other branchs of Tibetan Buddhism.

KJD 10 years ago

Next year Ben would clearly be one of the primary leaders on this team. I should include the idea that an opportunity to be that kind of leader for this team has a value in itself. Elijah, Travis and Jeff are getting that reward, challenge, and experience to grow themselves in that way right now. Next year we'll be void of upperclassmen who have played big minutes like Ben is getting now. If you don't think that isn't valuable for a team take a look at what Kentucky is experiencing right now. It seems rare here at KU that sophomores have that opportunity to be the guy on the floor who has been there and done that more than the rest. It's a leadership opportunity he'll get at KU well before he tastes it in the NBA.

Dirk Medema 10 years ago

Who justifies? Doesn't the draft justify? 12th pick and current NBA player would seem to justify. Heck, even draft in the 2nd round and current NBA player would seem to justify. You shouldn't take their leaving as such a personal rejection.

LIFELONGHAWK38 10 years ago

I don't think KJD is saying Ben wouldn't be justified if Ben jumps to the NBA after one year here, nor do I feel he is taking any of the one and done guys decision to leave after one year personal as you suggest. I think he just named a few of the players who didn't go to the NBA after just one year ,and the fact they seem to be doing very well (thank you). I also disagree with you when you say "Heck, even draft in the 2nd round and current NBA player would seem to justify. " There is a world of difference between a young man leaveing after one year of college ball for the NBA , and one who would leave to only be drafted by the NBA in the second round. . A young man that knows he is going to be drafted in the first round (especially high in the first round) almost has to go ahead and make that jump.. I think we all recognize that , but, that isn't the case for a young man that may not be drafted tell the second round. That young man still has 3 years of college ball left that he culd use to build up his stock, and it is usually proven that a young man does get better in his second year of college ball. So his stock could easily rise to first round pick after his second year .

hawk316 10 years ago

One and done is probably right, but I would love to see him stay a second year. I know it's hard for these players to pass up the big contract, especially when it benefits the entire family, but most kids at this age could really benefit from the extra year of development and maturing. But I have to admit that part of my reasoning is selfish because I would love to see him stay longer in the program. This kid is special.

Jim Erickson 10 years ago

It looks like I probably won't be back in the good ole' USA until the 2014-2015 season. I wouldn't bet on it, but I would love to see B-Mac, Frankamp, and Ellis all together when I get back!

Michael Bratisax 10 years ago

Include White, Selden and Greene into that mix and that might be the most talented KU team ever.

Karen Holmes 10 years ago

So looking forward to watching Ben this season. Good things will be coming his way.

jaybate 10 years ago

"Thursday Thunks or Thought Dunks While Wishing It Was Friday"

• Talent and skill wise, Ben seems very comparable to Jordan at the same age.

• If basketball were mostly about athleticism, Ben would be in the BHOF already.

• Like Mike, the jury is out on his outside J as a young player. Looks unstoppable sometimes, but undroppable others.

• 7 games in he is shooting only 31% from trey against weak competition. Defenses are going to get alot better and tougher in January. Still, it would only take a 2-game tear at this point to get his trey percentage back to decent. But can he shoot 40% for a season?

• At 29%, so far, this team sucks from trey. Gotta get better.

• EJ, despite 1.5 knees is, at 36% from trey and so near his career average. Trav's career average is well under 40%. So these two do not appear likely to shoot the team's trey percentages back to respectability.

• The team's chances of becoming a respectable trey shooting team hinge on Ben, Naadir, and AW3 moving beyond "supposed to be good trey shooters." So far, we are seeing alot of Conner Teahans--streak shooters with practice reputations that don't translate to games, when opposing teams scouting reports have identified their favorite spots to take away. And as Conner learned last year, the scouting report takes more and more of your sweet spots away as the season progresses.

• I love the dunk as much as any one, but each time Ben (or anyone else) skies through the air and dunks, it is a 2-pt play, not a fouled layup with a make and a FT for a three point play. Statistically, in terms of lost 3-pt opportunities, the dunk is like being suckered into a mid range game by a Self defense. The question becomes: is dunking strategically sound? Does its high percentage for two offset the high percentage lay up with a FT? Used to think yes, but now not so sure.

• We need Jeff to get his FT accuracy back.

• I wonder if there is any historical tendency for trey shooting accuracy to higher first, or second semester?

Jonathan Allison 10 years ago

except for toward the end of a game where you're trying for a desparate comeback you just can't pass up a dunk. It's two free points, and it gets the whole team amped. Especially at home where the crowd energy will go through the roof after a dunk, you just can't afford to not dunk it.

Sure from a purely strategic play of the probabilities it doesn't add up. But the numbers game doesn't accord for things like momentum and energy level. The dunk is a turbo boost. It's nitrous oxide. It goes well beyond the 2 points that you get when the ball goes through the basket.

You gotta take the dunks.

KansasComet 10 years ago

I truly enjoyed reading your post today. Thanks.

Jaybate, there are players like Conner Teahan, that just don't shoot it very well when the bright lights are on. I thought Teahan and Morningstar were excellent shooters in AFH, and in particular when we had the lead. Not so much on the road and when we were trailing games. I wish we had stats on that. I also believe that scouting reports get team weaknesses attacked during tournament games like VCU.

Elijah Johnson, for all of his supposed liabilities on defense when he arrived at KU, has no fear of failure. Their were three tournament games last year, where he stepped up and was "Mr. Big Shot", and led us to the Final Four. That my friend is in his DNA, he can't help it, he was born this way! So yes, I believe it would have been better for Coach Self to invest his time developing players like Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford upon arrival as they were both players with tremendous upside.

That is the type of player that Bill Self recruits. He will never ever want a team full of Conner Teahans' and Brady Morningstars', you can't win that way. They were both good role players, and that's about it. Nothing special.

Jaybate, please help me out on this one. I believe you said that Brady Morningstar could start on this year's team? If so, please elaborate. Thanks.

jaybate 10 years ago

Ah, I'm so sorry, Comet, I forgot to get back to you on why Brady would be starting for this year's team.

He would be the only guy among our three perimeter starters and two back ups that could do all of the following as well, or better than all our current players. Note: each of our current starters do a few things better than Brady, but none of them do more things better than Brady.

Shoot 40% from trey.

Defend the other team's top offender on the perimeter at a level that enables a team to win conference titles, get high seeds, advance to the 16, or 8 once a couple times (proven three year track record).

Give sideline to sideline help defense for the lesser defenders.

Feed the post reliably.

Bring the ball up (which he did often his last season).

Shoot free throws at a high percentage.

Score up to 20 points, when adverse MUAs (or injuries) on the top three scoring options on our team dictated it.

Protect at extremely low TO rates.

And my favorite of all: drive baseline and actually be able to make the cross court baseline pass with almost no muffs.

Its not even close.

It wouldn't be close with Tyshawn.

It wouldn't be close with Tyrell.

It wouldn't be close with Xavier.

It wouldn't be close with Josh (when healthy).

One of our starters would already be beaten out by anyone of the guys on this list.

If EJ weren't so gimpy, I might not be able to say this, but he is.

Just look down the list of names. Everyone of the guys on the list of names could beat out at least one of our three starters.

I'm not saying which one, because it varies depending on the player on the list selected.

But until at least two of the three starting perimeter players on this year's team starts cracking treys at 40% plus, all three are vulnerable to being beaten out by guys on this list that can do all of the basics listed above plus shoot about 40% from trey.

Will this situation change by March? Will these starters develop to be at least the equals of the guys on the list of past players? Well, that is the plan and god help us if they don't. But I am talking as of today, every guy on the list would probably bump at least one of our starters.

ohjayhawk 10 years ago

Also, keeping in mind that if the defender fouls correctly, the layup won't go in. ("If you're going to foul, make sure he doesn't make the shot.") So, at BEST you will still end up with only 2 points at the end of the possession, assuming they hit both FT's. I'll take the sure 2 every time.

jaybate 10 years ago

But of course great big men frequently make the basket and then go to the line to shoot a free throw and make three point plays out of two point plays, so this by definition refutes your assertion.

But thanks for weighing in.

ohjayhawk 10 years ago

"Great big men"? I guess I don't consider Ben being a "big man". I usually reserve that term for PF's and C's. Also, when you made your assertion above, you didn't limit it to just big men "Ben (or anyone else)". I'd say that the frequency of making the bucket decreases when a non-big man is getting hacked by a big man. Not to mention, as stated below, the percentage of making a dunk is quite high. Higher than making a FT. Besides, how many times have you seen a blatant foul not even draw a whistle. There are too many variables that go into always trying to hope you convert a 3-point play over taking an almost sure 2 points. Therefore, I stand by my assertion.

ohjayhawk 10 years ago

Also, wasn't it just last season where Coach Self kept making comments about trying to get Withey and/or Robinson to dunk the ball every time they had it underneath? My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I can definitely say I've never heard a coach say "When you have the opportunity, don't dunk it, just lay it in while trying to draw a foul, and hope you end up getting 3 points out of it".

jaybate 10 years ago

THere is no doubt that Self wanted his bigs to dunk last season. But there seems to be a change of policy this season. And even if there weren't, I'm arguing that there may be reason to dunk less and play for 3 point plays more.

And it would apply for who ever is doing it.

Self and Tyshawn proved last year that even in XTReme Muscle ball, guards can get to the rim, get a bucket and a FT on a frequent basis. The realization needs to be spread to the other positions. Its a matter of technique.

Brianna Zaleski 10 years ago

With all due respect, you comment way too much and this post is a result of commenting too many times and running out of reasonable things to say. You are now proposing players like BMac should give up dunks(like the viscous one he had at the Sprint Center), which have the ability to capitalize on momentum(which can be exponentially more valuable than the pts, especially in a college bball game)? For the prospect of a 3pt play which is far from guaranteed?
Just the other day you suggested we start to play a 2-3 zone with JW on a wing to limit an opponents 3pt% on one side of the floor. These lame suggestions seem like more an attempt to keep filling up gaudy amounts of space on this site, with no real attempt at reasonable content. Take a hiatus, your brain may need it. And just fir the record, jb, I am one on here who thoroughly enjoys most of ur posts and insights laced with history. I am not a hater, I just think you should leave the "strategery" to the posters with some coaching exp.

jaybate 10 years ago


Part 1

First of all, Zig, are you related to Richard Nixon? When you said, "I am not a hater, " you made me laugh and think of Tricky Dick, whom I hadn't thought of for a loooooong time. You remind me of him a good deal. He may have been before your time, but he had this wonderful line during his Watergate Scandal, when he had clearly broken all kinds of laws. He said with an utterly straight face, "I am not a crook." :-)

Many in America played along with Tricky Dick. They said, "Okay, you are not a crook," even though it was apparent to many that he was deceiving no one but himself.

Okay, I will play a long, Zig. "You are not a hater." And I think you are imminently qualified to judge how much I should post, because you are not a hater. :-)

Just for the record, I enjoy everyone commenting pro and con, positive and negative, long and short, though I learn almost nothing from a presumptuous fop advising another board rat about how much is enough, and how much is not enough, regarding posting.

To the point, I don't recall reading a peer reviewed dissertation, or monogram, or book, atrributed to you entitled something like: "Quantation in Posting: Thresholds of Too Much and Too Little." :-)

With all due respect, I can't bring myself--try as I may--to accord you the respect and collegiality of a competent "expert" in a field of inquiry--quantation in posting--that I have never heard of, nor could discover even as an indirect scholarly reference to same, by googling. :-)

Now, with all due respect, AGAIN, you seem, however much you claim to enjoy some of my workouts in our beloved logonasium here, a situationally hapless board rat that looks at words rather than reading them, and I add this redundantly, with all due respect, irregardless of whether you enjoy what I write, or not. :-)

What you should say--at least to appear more accurate--would be something like this: I, Zig, think you, jaybate, post too often for me, Zig, to do anything but look at the words, rather than read and comprehend what you, jaybate, post.

benshawks08 10 years ago

Irregardless is not a word. Just regardless works. (with all due respect)

jaybate 10 years ago

Part 2

That focuses on your own intellectual capacity (and apparent laziness), and I could, without being a hater, be persuaded by such focus. It would be something you had first hand knowledge of.

Why I would be typing a "Swish" after such a post by you were you to post something to that effect. :-)

Ah, but that's not what you wrote. I have to deal with what you wrote in order to be a responsible member of the community.

Where to start?

Let's see...

Regarding putting Withey out on one wing, it was a 1-3-1 zone and not a 2-3. That error appears to come from word looking on your part, rather than word reading. Word looking betrays intellectual laziness. Time for you to decide whether you want to be lazy, or a hard worker. You decide. If you want to read everything I post, you have to choose to be a hard worker, because I post a lot.

(Note: I post a lot for a number of reasons. But the one that should matter to you is that I post different things for different readers. I sure as heck would not read everything I post. I put titles on things in order to signal that a particular post might be of interest to a particular kind of reader. I actually can't imagine anyone reads all my work outs here. Why would they? I am endlessly trying different styles, different subject matter, different rhetorical devices, etc. I am like a hobby shop here. I would not expect every one to come in an buy one of every kind of hobby model and craft project I sell. Zig, inhale, deeply and exhale. Author here. I am having fun here. I am not trying to maintain any particular standard of excellence. I am not paid to do that. I am working out here. Having FUN!!!! If its not fun for you, then don't pay attention to it. You're supposed to be having fun here. Being intellectually lazy is not fun, Zig. Just read things you can concentrate on, just read the things you can read the words of, rather than just look at the words. Zig, go have yourself a good time!!!!)

jaybate 10 years ago

Part 3

Next, surely you are not superficial enough to think that I ventured the out-of-the-box idea of putting Jeff on the wing of a 1-3-1, because you thought I was sure it would work, or that I thought it was a move mastering the obvious that Self had been missing since early childhood? Surely?

I did it to make myself and other hard working board rats think analytically about zone defense, since Self has never played much zone and, therefore, since I and other KU fans are going to be necessarily weaker on our grasp of zoning than, say, zone-literate Syrexcuse fans that have had to watch the Orangeboyz play it since Boeheim took over some time in the 1300s.

As I say from time to time, new thinking hurts a bit. It requires a person to question their assumptions about a topic. It takes work. Its not for everyone, as a form of recreation. Part of the time I don't want to think about things either, so I post jokes and gags. But a lot of the time I do want to take things apart, tweak them, and put them back together in new ways that illuminate some aspect of basketball, or the business of basketball, or the corruption of basketball, or....what have you.

Taking things apart and putting them together in different ways is worth doing, even if the fresh thinking proves unworkable, because, if it induces one to question one's assumptions and so come to better understand what is valid about them, and what is not, then even if Jeff playing wing does not work, a board rat grows in understanding of what he has often been assuming rather unrigorously...if, that is, he reads, rather than just looks at words...and if, that is, he enjoys that sort of thing.

jaybate 10 years ago

Part 4

Now, if you understood zone defense (not the words, but how zones are actually played), and how 1-3-1 zones shift and morph side to side, and how the base line man covers side line to side line to fill the corner, and how when the ball would be on Jeff's wing, the offense would largely forget about scoring from his wing by outside shooting, and so the ball would tend to stay on the opposite wing, then you would know that Jeff would be sagging in very near the free throw lane and so be in a superb position to: a) block penetration with a 1-2 step jump, which is when he is at his best, and/or b) go to the boards for backside rebounds, which he would be dominant at grabbing, and which are frequent in shooting against a zone. But the best thing of all is that the entire 1-3-1 would get to overshift to the side opposite Jeff, because his wing span and long legs could cover so much territory on one wing. And of course we know Jeff could do this because he has become much more accomplished at chasing and hedging 20-23 feet from the basket in man2man defense against Princeton offenses that have drawn him away from the basket. So, putting Jeff on the wing is totally feasible. It seals off trey shooting on one side, and by overshifting the zone to the other side nearly seals off trey shooting on the other side. AND it puts Jeff sagging on the back side near the paint so that not only are the trey shots sealed off, but the penetrations are still subject to him coming in and swatting. Oh, and I almost forgot. Any time the opponent does bring the ball to Jeff's side and drives around him, he is plenty quick to turn, recover and swat the driver from behind while the big in the middle, say, anyone of our committe of 3 men at the four, contest the driver from in front of the driver.

You appear to be zone illiterate, but that probably is not your fault. Perhaps you haven't been around zones enough to think much about them as a KU fan--at least, you don't appear to have done so. Maybe you never played the game at a level where you had to learn to play different kinds of zones. I don't know.

benshawks08 10 years ago

I don't know why I read all of this when it was clearly directed at Zig but I like thinking about zone v man so I read it and here is my take. The reason having Jeff play the wing of a zone would not work as far as I could tell is that most made treys against zone defenses happen when the offense can move the ball faster than the defense can rotate. That is why Kansas is often so effective at picking apart zones because Self demands that the ball always move.

With this in mind, along with your suggestion that Jeff sag to help protect the rim, it would seem to me that offenses would have little trouble swinging the ball or more likely driving and kicking (which we have already shown we struggle with in man2man) and finding a mad wide open for a trey. This is especially true with Jeff on the wing because, though he has great length, covering that much ground side to side seems difficult for out big man. Add to this that our guards either can't keep their man in front most of the time, or have developed the habit of allowing men by to watch Jeff humiliate them, and you have a few more reasons to keep Jeff in the middle and off the wing.

The other down fall of having Jeff on the wing is that he then becomes our secondary rim protector instead of our primary. We have all heard Self say and witnessed with our own eyes that Jeff plays better against "bigger bigs" (6-9 and up). This is because "bigger bigs" usually prefer to stay closer to the basket allowing Jeff to plant in the middle and really help on drives. While he has improved greatly at hedging and chasing this year, those are still not his strengths. His strengths are defending back to the basket players, and blocking anything and everything that gets driven towards the basket.

I will admit, like you said, that many of us Kansas fans (myself included) are "zone illiterate," but that is my take on the Jeff on the wing strategy. The dunking thing I will have to think about a little more...

jaybate 10 years ago

Thanks for taking the time to think it through and for a lucid response.

Your explain the conventional POV very well.

Where we differ is on how much ground we assume Jeff can cover and how fast.

I can't prove it, I can only infer it from watching his movements against the Princeton. Jeff could easily cover from lane edge out to the trey no matter how fast the ball was reversed around the perimeter. That seems a given.

The next path the ball can take is through the middle of the zone; that's a very fast transition. But here is the beauty of the 1-3-1, and the reason that I would use it rather than any other zone. KY/Jamari/Perry are in the middle of the zone in the middle of the lane in the middle of the floor. There just is no way that an opponent could rapidly move the ball through the middle of the zone with one of our big 4s standing right there. Even if they get it in there, one of our 4s will swarm the offender in the middle and deny back side to Jeff's zone, so the transition will be slowed and Jeff will have plenty of time to recover.

The only other path for the ball to go is a cross court lob. I have never seen an offense in all my years that can consistently through the crosscourt lob without it getting stolen frequently. And imagine trying to throw a cross court lob over Jeff Withey. He alone would jump up and steal half of them.

All zones face the vulnerability to quick ball movement, when played with players in their conventional positions for their heights.

Playing Jeff on a wing would no doubt face this vulnerability.

But in a 1-3-1 with Jeff on the wing, it is very likely that this zone would be less vulnerable.

jaybate 10 years ago

Part 5

But I can tell you this: zones are infinitely varied in how they can be played. Nothing is written about zones. Development is not done. And you saying someone else is not qualified to post about zone strategy is kind of like a tree squirrel advising, in this case, say, a high school math teacher that he is not qualified to post about zone strategy. You, as a tree squirrel, could be right, but really how credible are you in comparison to a high school math teacher regarding strategic analysis? :-)

But regardless of your tree squirrel lack of qualification, which is a shortcoming to be sure, your being so intellectually lazy is what really makes me sad for you. You not even trying to understand the dynamics of the proposal I made and also brushing the suggestion off as if you knew spit about the subject makes you seem a buck naked emperor at a costume ball. :-)

Sheesh, Zig, let's have some fun here, shall we?

In the interest of doing so, I have another little acorn for you, my little Macawber. There was a time when Hank Luisetti shooting the one handed jump shot was a moral assault on the game by one of them damned Eye-talian immigrants! They weren't racists. They were immigrantists. :-)

These incredibly stupid morons stuck in their ways of thinking and unwilling to consider a new approach to shooting said endlessly that no team could ever win shooting one handed jump shots. Were it not for Phog disciple John Bunn saying to heck with all of you morons, or perhaps only thinking it, and telling Hank to shoot the shot whenever he got open, we might still be sliding right and shooting two handers.

But closed mindedness never ends in the game, it just siezes on to something else to be resistant to change about.

Next came the taboo of dunking. Layups were the only right way to score in close. It was like a commandment of the game written in stone somewhere. Then the tall guys started dunking. That was bad. But then the African Americans did it. Ooooooooooh, baaaaaaaaaad, baaaaaaad African Americans. Don't do that, the morons said.

Fast forward: dunking is one of the sacred cows of basketball right now. No one gets to think analytically about dunking, unless it is a form of systematized marveling at it. Dunking's legitimacy is now thorughly assumed, like the lay up and two handed set shot were assumed to be the "rigtt" ways, the only strategically sensible ways to score. One handed set shooting and then dunking were the work of the DEVIL!!!!!!

jaybate 10 years ago

Part 6

Dunking now holds the kind of assumed soundness in principle that lay-ups used to have. Dunking was show boating in the beginning. Dunking was evil. Dunking would lead to intermarriage of the races. Dunking was aboriginal. Dunking was tabooooooooooooooooooo!

But the African Americans, thankfully for the game, once the racists let them into the game, said screw the prejudice and screw the taboo about dunking. Some of us can dunk like nobody's business, and we're going to dunk until you outlaw it. And so they did until the racists finally did outlaw it at the time of Kareem. Oh, they said they did it for the good of the game, but I will go to my death bed absolutely confident to tell St. Peter when I see him, "Pete, I'm telling you on a stack of whatever edition of the Bible the big guy is passing out these days, that they banned dunking, because they were trying to hold back African American's rising success in the game." That's what I'll say to St. Pete, Zig, and I'm betting my soul that when the big guy ways in on me, he's going to say, well, jaybate, you did a lot of bad things. You picked on some board rat named Zig. You were often wrong about things. You underestimated how good Bill Self was when he was first hired. But you know what, 'bate?" I believe God will call me 'bate. "'bate, you were 100% right on why the dunk was outlawed."

Don't let me overload your brain here, but I want to keep playing with this.

My hypothesis that not dunking generates more three point plays on short shots than dunks seems logical and anecdotally supported.

And lay ups, if approached as XTReme layups, where a super muscular big fends off the XTReme Fouler with an XTReme Forearm to the face, and so shoots an uncontested lay up with his free hand, seems almost as accurate as a dunk.

jaybate 10 years ago

Part 7

So: if the accuracy of the XTReme Layup approaches the accuracy of the dunk, then frequent foul and free throw net out a better option.

I am not saying this is certain, Zig, though that probably does not matter to a board rat that looks at words, rather than reads them.

I am saying their is enough preliminary logic and anecdotal observation to success this is possibly true.

I am saying that the first player to come up with the XTReme Layup is likely to revolutionize the game and dunking may get sidelined not by racism, but by a better mouse trap.

But its only a hypothesis right now, Zig.

It would require both work to develop the XTRe lay up, and statistics to back up its effect.

There. I'm done playing.

And since you are partial to giving advice, lets see if you are partial to taking some: select a few of my posts that interest you. Focus on those, whether you agree, or disgree. Then lay out your reasoning, so that I can have cause to respond seriously to you in a rational, productive way.

This response of yours above leaves the implication of a dullard, or a lazy thinker.

I thought you were smarter than a dullard, and a harder thinker than that.

And I mean all of this with all do respect. :-)

Brianna Zaleski 10 years ago

Part 1: practice what you preach

Jay, you get on here and in a very lengthy way, tell me that I am A dullard and a lazy thinker? Why? I analyzed your two most recent "game plans" and thought those were lazily thought and laid out. Just because you write 1000 words doesn't make your point any more right. I like you and I like the majority of your posts. I'm just saying that when someone as (seemingly) intelligent as you gets on here and starts suggesting that Self should use a 1-3-1 zone and pull the nations most prolific shot blocker and shot intimidator away from the basket, maybe it's time to take a breather and get your thoughts together. I'm just saying that when someone as (seemingly) intelligent as you starts suggesting that dunkers should start pulling up for awkward layups in hopes of drawing a foul then attempt to cash in on a 65-80% chance for an extra pt, when you can instead posterize your competition with a near 100% shot, all the while bringing the house down at home, or taking the life out of it away, I say it's time to take a breather.

Part 2

You say you mention these topics, not because you necessarily because you believe them, but to illicit thought and dialogue. Yet when someone responds to the contrary and not to your liking, you accuse them of reading but not comprehending. Or being a dullard. Nobody on this site can wordsmith with you, bate

Brianna Zaleski 10 years ago

Part 1: practice what you preach

Jay, you get on here and in a very lengthy way, tell me that I am A dullard and a lazy thinker? Why? I analyzed your two most recent "game plans" and thought those were lazily thought and laid out. Just because you write 1000 words doesn't make your point any more right. I like you and I like the majority of your posts. I'm just saying that when someone as (seemingly) intelligent as you gets on here and starts suggesting that Self should use a 1-3-1 zone and pull the nations most prolific shot blocker and shot intimidator away from the basket, maybe it's time to take a breather and get your thoughts together. I'm just saying that when someone as (seemingly) intelligent as you starts suggesting that dunkers should start pulling up for awkward layups in hopes of drawing a foul then attempt to cash in on a 65-80% chance for an extra pt, when you can instead posterize your competition with a near 100% shot, all the while bringing the house down at home, or taking the life out of it away, I say it's time to take a breather.

Part 2

You say you mention these topics, not because you necessarily believe them, but to illicit thought and dialogue. Yet when someone responds to the contrary and not to your liking, you accuse them of reading but not comprehending. Or being a dullard. Nobody on this site can wordsmith with you, bate, except maybe HEM, but that doesn't make the rest of us stupid or lacking insight.

Part 3

Don't be so fragile (must be Italian). We all lay ourselves out there when we post. No one moreso than you. News flash: we aren't all going to agree w/ each other. But when you have the courage to lay yourself out there with a thoughtful post, have the courage to take some flak for it. We all do when you attack our posts with your windy diatribes. Hell I barely made it thru all 7 parts of mine. On a side not, I'm quite flattered I got 7 parts from u jb, that's got to be close to a record.

Part 4

Don't next suggest that HCBS should bring in the team manager to run PG as some sort of intelligent way to fool out next opponent who would have a wrong scouting report, and then no one will suggest that your burnt out and need a breather.

Part 5

Merry Christmas :-)

jaybate 10 years ago


Do the words oppositional disorder mean anything to you? ? :-)

You're either lacking insight about what you say and how others perceive it, or you're a dullard, or intellectually lazy, or both.

Coming back with a limp attempt to try to get topical to what I was discussing doesn't count.

Try hard, or pass me by.

Zig, Zig, Zig...

I talk about basketball and you talk about me.

I talk about you and you talk about basketball.

I know this probably works with your wife/life mate, or employees/volunteers, but it doesn't work with me.

You either have to marry me, Zig, or pay me, to tell me what to do and what not to do, and how much to do and how much not to do, and make it stick.

I learned long, long ago, waste as little time as possible trying to tell other people what to do, when I have no authority over them. You appear to still be struggling with the lesson.

If you marry me Zig, then you get to tell me what to do while I hire a divorce lawyer and take you for everything you have. :-)

If I work for you, I will take your fee paid and do my very best for to resolve the issue constructively for you.

Are you asking to marry me, Zig? I don't think so.

Are you asking to hire me, Zig? I don't think so.

So then I will post as I choose, and I will characterize your behavior towards me as fits the appearances I observe.

Reality to Zig. Come in Zig.

Merry Christmas back at ya, Zig.


Jack Wilson 10 years ago

I have no hesitation that taking the dunk is the absolute correct play. You don't play the game expecting the foul call. You can try to draw a foul, and there's an art to that (hips), but you play on the offensive end to score.

Dunks are near 100% when it comes to field goal %. We see many more bunny layups missed. We see many layups missed when the offensive player anticipates contact that does not come.

Another way to look at is, do you turn down two points when it is given to you? Easy answer is no. Foul or no foul, it's two points.

The only time two points doesn't make sense is situationally, under one minute (or even later), when you're counting possessions.

jaybate 10 years ago


First, thanks for laying out your thinking on this so I have something to make me question my own hypothesis offered as a question above.

Second, I will try to respond succinctly.

Agree on percentage on dunks.

Agree lay ups as currently taught often get blocked, when no foul is called and playing for 3 costs you a two.

Next, I did play for fouls. I always double pumped, and I always jumped under and into players as I went up for shots I was sure to make. I often crossed under the rim on fast breaks, and using the closest hand held the ball out hoping a crashing defender trying to avoid the rim would swat at my extended arm, which I could always beat by a quick wrist flip and then moving arm into his, which always made the ref call a foul. I ahve seen Travis use this very move a couple times recently.

In fact, when Self says he wants EJ attacking the rim like Tyshawn did, he means he wants EJ to get in there and get two with a foul shot and a free throw; that's the very essense of what he wants.

Playing for fouls and three point plays is just about as old as the game itself, based on my experience.

Two of my coaches taught my junior high and high school teams to play for fouls buzzer to buzzer.

My hunch is that in today's XTReme Game, where many fewer fouls are called, and greater contact is required to get them called, that dunking became one solution.

The solution was, as you say, to get the sure two, rather than maybe nothing at all, due to the non calls.

But here is what your different point of view has triggered me to think of.

How about this rule: dunk during the period of whistle swallowing and XTReme Muscle. Go back to playing for fouls during the whistling.

That's one idea.

The other is one I barely touched on above with Zig.

I am imagining a kind of XTReme Layup. A lay up where a strong big lays up with one hand and fends with another brawny arm. He delivers a blow to the defender's face every time he makes a lay up move. The ref never calls an offender hitting a defender in the face with a forearm. They only call a foul if the offender actually pushes the defender away. So start delivering blows from the beginning and eventually the defender has to begin to foul to try to stop you. But you are trained to fend the fouling attempts and follow with a forearm smash.

I'm thinking about developing an XTReme Layup. It could even involve some one armed dunking with a fending hand held up ready to be fouled on a reach, or to lash out asa a forearm smash if the defender tries to get tough.

archercc 10 years ago

Dunks are statistically the best play. Very high percentage shots. You dont take a lower percentage shot just in hopes of getting the foul. Besides, you can be fouled on dunks too. If the basket is open you go to it, no questions.

Also, beyond being 2 or 3 points there are other impacts of a good dunk. Dunks hurt if you are on the opposing team. It means your defense broke down, you got beat and now the other team gets to coast back early on defense because they don't have to rebound. Its embarrassing, both to the team and the crowd getting dunked on. Takes some wind out of your sails.

And it flips for the home team. A bucket can loosen up a tight shooter, whether it comes from the foul line or by punishing the rim. It gets the bench out of their seats, helps keep the legs warm. And it lights the crowd up. Not only does that energize the offense but also makes defense easier due to the 6th man's impact.

A lot of runs begin with the play referenced in the article, a steal to a dunk.

jaybate 10 years ago

Dunks are very high percentage shots. But think about this. A dunk is like shooting zero percent from the free throw line. ZERO PERCENT from the FT line. That's pretty damned low. :-)

Next, imagine how many fewer points Tyshawn Taylor would have scored last season, if he had dunked every time instead of challenging around the rim and forcing the player to try to stop him shooting off the glass, or shooting a floater. Just look at the percentage of his points that came from free throws!! It was large!

I know I am asking every one to jump through the looking glass on this and it hurts.

But dunks are really more like part of the low yield mid range game at its inner most threshold that Jesse Newell's recent stat analysis revealed, rather than part of the inside game. The inside game is high percentage alright. But the best part of the inside game is the make a basket and get a free throw play.

Why does everyone thing Self wants guys to drive it, or feed the bigs? He's looking for high percentage three point plays inside.

He's also looking to draw fouls. Drunks rarely draw fouls the way layups do.

Really, when you dunk you give up a whole lot to get that high percentage two and some rather hard to quantify thing called momentum change, or team inspiration.

Frankly, I've never seen any stats indicating that dunks start runs, or dunks start extended changes in the leads that exist. This is a very, very good idea you have raised. It is something you perceive anecdotally. And it is something that could be counted up and analysed for statistical significance.

Regardless, thank you for your take.

You have added a testable hypothesis to the discussion.

Rock Chalk!

brooksmd 10 years ago

jaybate I was ready to correct you on it being "Thursday Thunks" when I glanced at the calendar and saw it really was Thursday and not Wednesday. I've lost more days since I retired it ain't funny. Oh well I'll have to take a 3-day weekend to get back on track again.

jaybate 10 years ago


Correct away. This is my day to be corrected. :-)

Michael Bratisax 10 years ago

Good questions..I always thought games were won or lost inside the paint. Maybe that's no longer true.

jaybate 10 years ago

Basketball games must be won in the trenches (the paint) over the long haul, so that perimeter impact players, or 4s that can impact inside and outside, can make big plays to go get a basket and win the game.

In this regard, basketball is like football. Its the big men in the trenches that establish sufficient dominence to create the moment when the skill player in football, or the impact player in basketball can go make a great play that wins the game.

Great skill players in football and great impact players in basketball with few exceptions can't win games without the bigs in the trenches establishing dominance.

nuleafjhawk 10 years ago

Ben sounds like a great kid, and I can see for myself that he's a great basketball player.

For me, every time he has the ball in his hands I feel like something good is going to happen. I have a lot of confidence in him.

We've had a lot of great players over the years, but I haven't had this same feeling about a player since Danny Manning ! I'm not sure I'm ready to compare Ben to DM yet, but I get that same warm, fuzzy feeling.....

Robert Brock 10 years ago

He's capable of becoming a great basketball player; he is not there yet. Awareness, understanding, and skill-development is still in progress. I hope that he sticks around at KU to develop.

jhox 10 years ago

What a great young man he is. You hear Self's comments about him (being the total package, great athlete, great basketball player, very coachable, pleasure to be around) and it makes you thankful he came to KU. I can't imagine we'll have him beyond this season as he looks like a sure thing lottery pick, probably even top 5, so we just need to enjoy the Ben show while he's here.

(Ben, if you happen to read this, enjoy every second of your time as a college student. Every former KU player I've known who went on to play pro ball has said essentially the same thing. The money is nice, but there is nothing to compare to playing basketball at KU and playing in Allen Field House. Soak it up young man, and thanks for being such a great representative for KU.)

Brianna Zaleski 10 years ago

Did I miss something? Ben has an older brother and 3 older sisters, yet he (Ben) is the fourth of his mother, Sonya's, 5 children. And a younger brother Kevin. Does that add up? Or is it just too early and I haven't had my coffee? For the record, I'm not a grammar Nazi, like Jaybate, these totals just struck me as wrong. Ben seems like a great kid who just might return for another year if he loves it here as much as he says he does

Jonathan Allison 10 years ago

Sounds like older brother Kieth Scott shares his father with Ben McLemore, but is not a son of Sonya Reid. Otherwise, one of the three older sister's does.

Marcia Parsons 10 years ago

My guess is that Mr. McLemore came into the relationship already having a son. Although I'm still trying to figure out what difference it makes.

hucking_fawks_rock 10 years ago

Ben is the first Jayhawk I've seen since Rush who exceeded my expectations by far for an incoming player. His ability to do whatever he wants when he has the ball in his hand is just an absolute joy to watch. He'll get his 3 ball stroke come Big12 time, but right now he's still getting into the groove of a real college game. What a great kid to watch out there, so much fun. Normally Jaybate, I'd rip all over you for comparing this kid to Jordan. I didn't watch Jordan in college, so I don't know what his game was like, but the kid sure floats around the rim like Jordan did in the NBA...

KGphoto 10 years ago

This is a pretty good example of Jordan's game early on.

While I think Ben has similar athletic ability, he doesn't yet have the controls dialed. Frankly, I don't think he ever will. Not like Mike.

Jordan had every imaginable weapon, even in college. If they had the three point shot then, he would've had that too. He would drive the lane or pull up and hit the mid-range jumper. He had the indefensible turn around, fading jumper even at that young age. He had the clutch gene, the killer instinct. He had it all, even then.

The main difference between Jordan and every other "next" Jordan, including Kobe, is his competitive edge. He was/is a competitive machine the likes of which we may never see again. Every time he's on the court he's the most intense competitor our there. He plays to beat you every single play. He had a street baller mentality, and it would show up on defense, loose balls, and any other facet you can imagine.

The only comparison I would have for Ben and Mike would be smooth athletic ability. It really stops there. Nothing against Ben. He amazes me. But I doubt I'll see another Mike in my lifetime. Corny as it is, Ben just needs to be the best Ben he can be, and not worry about any comparisons.

Ethan Berger 10 years ago

I was just about to post this video as a comparison also. Ben does have 3 point shooting on him, once Jordan was in the NBA they had the three. He was a very very poor 3 point shooter. But like you said, that competive edge knew no chains. He became a very good three point shooter. Like you said, Jordans handles where much better. He had the ability to get past defenders and the ability to create his own shot. 2 things B Mac has shown he can do. However, with hard work and maybe one more year B Mac can achieve that, and if he does he is going top 3.

KGphoto 10 years ago

Yeah, I think if Jordan grew up with the 3 he would've been deadly early on. Of course that may have hampered his development in other areas, something I think hampers today's young players in general, so I give Mac a bit of a pass on the driving and mid-range underdevelopment.

One thing I didn't mention is that Mac is probably a much better person than Mike was. Something I believe translates onto the court. Mac might just be too nice to ever be as competitive as Jordan. Kobe is too nice to some degree. He works on the killer instinct, but he wasn't born with it.

Ethan Berger 10 years ago

True about B Mac, Jordan was a bit full of himself. Kobe is a close of a competitor we have seen since Jordan. I think you can be Nice and be a great one. There are so few 2s who have been dominate, and I think B Mac can be the next one if he develops driving and creating that shot. Which is why I hate going to the NBA to soon, they to often let special talent slip through because they expect you to be almost fully developed.

Mick Allen 10 years ago

Just the comparison is high praise. He needs to work on his handles and defense. He is as athletic as anyone who has played here.

KGphoto 10 years ago

Those things need developing for sure, but that turn-around, fade-away was a killer, and it's a lost art in college. That shot allowed him to blow by his guy a lot and I haven't seen a college player with it since.

I would LOVE to see Mac develop that.

Jonathan Allison 10 years ago

I remember seeing flashes of the turnaround fade-away from Mario Little, but he was never consistent enough to really take full advantage.

That shot truly is unguardable when executed well.

KGphoto 10 years ago

Great, great example. I saw him hit that a few times and prematurely commented that he would be the next great KU scorer. "A pure scorer" I think I called him. Too bad he couldn't stay healthy. I think Mac could be great at that shot if he works on it.

Ron Prichard 10 years ago

"It’s nice to be able to say, ‘OK, I can do that on my own. I’m becoming a man now.’" What an outstanding comment from a young kid...or should I say, young man.

From day one I have loved watching McLemore just glide up and down the floor. Comparisons to Jordan are way premature, but McLemore is one of the very few players I have ever seen that moves so fast and so smooth while making it look effortless. If you asked 100 people to describe his game, I bet at least 90 would use the words, "glide, float, smooth, effortless, amazingly athletic," and so on. He truly is a joy to watch on the court. After reading this article, hearing some of McLemore's quotes and learning just a little bit about him off the court, it sounds like he is a great young man and I am even happier he is a Jayhawk.

I get so excited when I think how much talent is on this team and what I believe they will look like in Feb-March when Self has had time to mold them into what he wants.

Ethan Berger 10 years ago

Cylde Drexler with a better shot?

bhol 10 years ago

I love this guy. Enjoy him while he's here, because he won't be wearing a Jayhawk uniform beyond the tournament. Can't wait to see him ball in the NBA! He's got more potential to star in the NBA than any recent Jayhawk.

Tony Bandle 10 years ago

Being in St.Louis and watching Ben play and knowing what an incredible human being he was, I hesitated to tell you all but rather decided to let you see for wouldn't have believed me, anyway.

Remember, this was a young man who wanted to be a Jayhawk for a very long time, yet had to win over every teammate, friend and family member who all wanted him to go to Missouri.

Given the opportunity, he will go to the NBA next year, but not for the personal glory and fame...he will go, first and foremost, to take care of his family.

Eliminate all the basketball skills and what you have left is one hell of an incredible individual......a true credit to Jayhawk Nation!!

Ethan Berger 10 years ago

What I like about him, is it is clear to me he will be a lottery pick after the season completes. But he seems like a guy that can pull a fast one and stay one more year. He loves KU, but if he has a chance to be top 14, he should take it.

Jeff Schartz 10 years ago

Ben seems like the kind of person that I would be proud to have as a friend.

Tony Bandle 10 years ago

The Hulk is Superman's practice dummy!! The Man of Steel rules all!!

Curtis Stutz 10 years ago

Mostly great comments by folks, and I'll add that it was also a well written article.

It's just great anytime you see someone not taking the good things in their life for granted. He's not out there complaining about things that didn't go his way, he wishes it was a perfect world but relishes the wonderful things about life. If he feels ready to make the move as a man to the NBA that's great, we all know he'll be ready as a basketball player. If he decides to stay at KU and develop into the team leader/captain next year and continue to grow at KU, that would be wonderful as well. He sounds mature enough to decide which will make him the happiest.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 10 years ago

Please stop with the Michael Jordan references.

The kid is a fantastic athlete and will be a lottery pick in the 2013 draft. But come on, people. Comparing any college basketball player to Michael Jordan is absurd.

By this train of thought, it would be like comparing Jake Heaps to Brett Favre if Heaps wins his first 3 games next year with great numbers.

Ethan Berger 10 years ago

if we win our first 3 games next year, Heaps will deserve those comparisons. But back on the Jordan thing. I think that because of the number 23 and the fantastic athletic ability, they want to see him get close to the level of Jordan. Their game is very different though. Jordan could make something happen when dribbling, B Mac does more off the pass.

DanR 10 years ago

Well that didn't work (tried to insert a photo)....

Reuben_J_Cogburn 10 years ago

Are you going to keep sticking to the Hulk thing?

I mean...there's something to be said for not breaking character.

But I was just wondering if you had a timeframe.

Tony Bandle 10 years ago

R-J-C....I had the same thought....borderline annoying in a "kid in the basement" kind of way.

DanR 10 years ago

Hopefully, here we go (screen grab from Ben's dunk):


by DanR

Tony Bandle 10 years ago

YIKES..I'm 6'-4" tall and I couldn't get that high on an eight foot basket!!

Curtis Stutz 10 years ago

He could have hung from his elbow there if it wouldn't have been a technical. Good call to just throw down Ben.

Jack Wilson 10 years ago

Reminds me of when I was in grade school .. I had a buddy whose mom was a teacher. We'd crank the rims in the gym down to 8 foot, line up a milk crate, then two more behind the one milk crate, push them against a desk -- then run up the milk crates and off the desk to dunk. The only time I've had that view in flight.

Dunking was the ultimate. My mom was like, "what happened to your wrists?"

Somehow, pounding your arms against steel doesn't hurt when you're jammin'.

Michael Bratisax 10 years ago

Where one man sees eccentric another sees genius.

741hawk 10 years ago

A character on the Big Bang Theory?

REHawk 10 years ago

He so weird, when I hear he footsteps I stickfast freeze, right in the midst of my delerium tremens.

Tony Bandle 10 years ago

Different subject.....maybe the current Kentucky Frosh Class of 2012 is feeling the pressure of being sandwiched in between the '11 Class that won Calipari's first NC and the Class of '13 which has already been the annointed greatest frosh class in NCAA history??

Ideally, none of them would declare for the draft and 'Ole Uncle Cal would be up to his ass in alligators!!!

Ethan Berger 10 years ago

Honestly, I just don't think they have the right combo. Davis, MKG, and Teague were given all the credit, but Lamb, Miller and Jones was the reason they were able to go so far. Now there only older contributor is Wiltjer, who is a good player. They don't have a true point, Harrow is fragile. They don't have a low post scorer. Honestly, NBA will take 3 of those guys in the top 10 based on height, and only Goodwin will be a good pro.

Alex Peekeaton 10 years ago

Give them another 4 to 6 weeks of playing together and you will see a completely different team. Poythress will be the best in this class.

Ethan Berger 10 years ago

I agree, there season isn't over but I doubt they win the Title.

Alex Peekeaton 10 years ago

There isn't a dominant team this year although Indiana is the team to beat right now. Kentucky has the most talent in the country, so we shall all wait and see how fast Noel, Goodwin, and Poythress gel as a team. You don't win championships in November & December.

jaybate 10 years ago


Well, he ought to be the best, because he's got the most talent among the over hyped programs.

But I would put Ben Mac up against him head to head anytime and especially in March and April.

We're looking at the next Air Jordan, if he has the want to to go with the rest of the equipment.

Alex Peekeaton 10 years ago

No disrespect Jaybate, but McLemore or any other player in the country can hold MJ's jock!

jaybate 10 years ago


No system is perfect. Cal had to have everything fall together perfectly to get it done last season. Imagine if KU had been healthy. Imagine if Ben Mac and been able to play. Cal would very likely still be ringless.

Winning rings is tricky business even with the best.

Having the deck stacked in your favor in a game of risk, only means that you have much better odds of winning than others. It does not mean that risk has been eliminated.

I agree. UK's pieces right now appear not to fit. They might by the end though, but not now.

Recall when John Wall played, every one thought UK had a stacked deck. The first half of the season, Cal played through Wall and the guy baked so many pop tarts that the whole team got hyperglycemic.

Then the last two months of the season, Cal quit playing through Wall and played through Patterson and Cousins and the team's improvement went vertical.

Bottom line, even with the deck stacked you can't be sure, unless you are a wizard, like Wooden.

Coaches can't figure everything out quickly all the time.

Some players develop unexpectedly--some improve rapidly that were not expected to, others expected to improve rapidly don't.

These are kids, not machines.

Despite being stacked, last year's UK team required just about as much luck as any NCAA ring champion has required in order to get the ring.

Ethan Berger 10 years ago

Speaking of Stacked, there is a team in Ann Arbor, Michigan who has everything you want. They have one of the best points in years in Burke. Tim Hardway Jr is a pure scorer. Glen Robinson, is a NBA protype Small foward, tall, strong and athletic. Then Mitch McGary to seal the deal. I would love to see us face Michigan.

DizzyDG 10 years ago

Forget about B-Mac and Traylor last year. If the Morris Twins and an improved Josh Selby had stayed, KU would've likely won the title.

Alex Peekeaton 10 years ago

Kentucky can play that game better than anyone - if Pitino allows a healthy Derek Anderson play in 1997 NCAA tournament, UK beats Arizona in the finals. If Jodie Meeks stays one more year and plays with Cousins, Patterson, Wall, and Bledsoe, UK probably wins another title. If half of last year's team comes back, we would be ready to tie UCLA in most NCAA titles.

Alex Peekeaton 10 years ago

Jaybate - Luck??? You think last year's UK team who could have easily had an undefeated season and led the country in offensive efficiency and defensive field goal percentage was luck (Not sure if that will ever happen again)? The 2012 UK team went through the NCAA tournament like no team has done in a long long time!

Jonathan Allison 10 years ago

Is it Saturday yet? I'm not getting enough of my hoops fix on this website

Ben Berglund 10 years ago

-Ben is awesome! I did pick him as the leading scorer in that poll a couple months ago. -You always take the dunk; how is that even a question? -I don't buy us playing much/any zone. Not until I see it. -Not anticipating Travis or KY playing any point. EJ slowly looking healthier, hope his "nicked up" knee, and that hard fall in the last game aren't setbacks. -Brad Star isn't a starter on this team, cuz 1, 2 and 3 (so no moving Travis over) are already filled, but he's still a great bench player and probably continues to be the human highlight real. -More than a week is WAAYYYYYY too long to go in between games!

Ben Berglund 10 years ago

Well that didn't format properly at all...

Jack Wilson 10 years ago

Go listen to Self's press conference. Very interesting on the back up PG situation.

Coupled with his previous comments, it seems like Tharpe's spot is in serious jeopardy. Seems like he wants to go in a different direction talking about getting into the paint and defending the paint.

Will be interesting to see the playing time situation Saturday; when Adams gets in; when Tharpe is in.


Suzi Marshall 10 years ago

Sounds like a great young man. Last thing BMac needs to do is think about the NBA. He should concentrate on his defense, scoring, rebounding and helping his team win. If he/we get the numbers we all hope for, he'll do just fine. Enjoy the day, seize the moment.

REHawk 10 years ago

Scoring and rebounding appear to be natural givens. I would say defense and tightening his handles.

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