Saturday, June 22, 2013

McLemore sliding before Thursday’s NBA draft

Phoenix Suns draft prospect Ben McLemore, of Kansas, speaks with the media, Wednesday, June 5, 2013, in Phoenix.

Phoenix Suns draft prospect Ben McLemore, of Kansas, speaks with the media, Wednesday, June 5, 2013, in Phoenix.


As it stands today, the experts say Ben McLemore could go as high as No. 2 to Orlando — as low as No. 5 to Phoenix — in Thursday’s NBA Draft.

“I don’t put any thought into that (draft order). Whoever picks me, I’ve got to go in there and do what I’m supposed to do,” McLemore, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard out of Kansas University, told — a website that, along with, has the 20-year-old St. Louis native being chosen second by the Magic.

“I am a Miami Heat fan, but I really don’t have a team I really want to go to and play for,” McLemore stated recently.

More than one expert has said McLemore’s stock has been dropping because of sub-par workouts for Cleveland, Orlando and Phoenix. ESPN’s Chad Ford and Sheridan Hoops’ Joe Kotoch, in fact, both have McLemore headed to the Suns at No. 5.

“His lack of preparation for the draft is hurting him,” Ford writes at “Multiple sources told me that his workout in Phoenix was not impressive; he wasn’t in shape, and he struggled to keep up in the workout. I heard similar things in Orlando. McLemore is in a tug-of-war right now between adviser Rodney Blackstock and his agency, Rivals. It’s kept McLemore out of the gym and, for the most part, out of workouts. How much will all of this affect the draft stock? I’m told teams are worried. But how worried? Enough for one of the most talented players in the draft to slide further?”

Kotoch wrote: “McLemore’s troubles stem from his inner circle and poor conditioning. McLemore has not been impressive at workouts in Phoenix or Cleveland. One executive who watched McLemore said ‘Jamaal Franklin looked like a better prospect than him, and he’s still recovering from a sprained ankle.’”

One NBA front-office official — who also could not speak on the record in accordance with league rules — told the Journal-World that McLemore appeared “pudgy” at a recent workout and might be 10 pounds overweight.

“He was struggling after 15 minutes,” the official said. “He could slide down (Thursday). I hear no further than 7 to 10, but there’s a chance he could slide because of some of this stuff (including the inexperience of his first-year adviser, Blackstock).”

The NBA official said at one point Cleveland was leaning toward taking McLemore at No. 1 overall, but had since changed its mind. He said it would be hard to imagine the Suns passing on him at No. 5, recent concerns notwithstanding.

Until Cleveland says otherwise, there’s still a chance McLemore could be the first true shooting guard since David Thompson in 1975 — and second Jayhawk of all time (Danny Manning, 1988) — selected No. 1 overall.

The Cavs, however, are said to be happy with 2-guard Dion Waiters, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 Draft, thus may select one of two big men — Maryland’s Alex Len or Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel.

Orlando, which picks second, could draft McLemore and insert him in the starting lineup. The current starter is Aaron Afflalo, with Doron Lamb and E’Twaun Moore the backups.

At this point, nothing is out of the question. McLemore could become KU’s second No. 1 pick in history, first No. 2 pick of all-time, first No. 3 pick since Raef LaFrentz in 1998, first No. 4 selection since Drew Gooden in 2002, first No. 5 since Thomas Robinson in 2012, first No. 6 since Walt Wesley in 1966 or first No. 7 since Kirk Hinrich in 2003 (Wilt Chamberlain, by the way, was territorial pick of the Philadelphia Warriors in 1959).

“McLemore can absolutely shoot the ball, and he’s one of the best athletes in the draft,” Ryan Blake, the NBA’s senior director of scouting, told the Elyria (Ohio) Chronicle-Telegram. “He can score inside a la Dwyane Wade,and he’s smooth like Ray Allen. And he can defend.

“He could be that Dwyane Wade or Ray Allen type. If that’s what you come down to — at best Dwyane Wade and at worst Ray Allen — that’s not bad. He came in so confident, and he’s worked so hard to get where he is. He’s not going to stop working. He has that spark. This guy is going to continue to get better.”

McLemore hasn’t shied from the comparisons to the Miami Heat’s Allen. He has embraced them.

“I think that’s a pretty valid comparison,” McLemore told Orlando’s aXis Magazine. “He’s one of the best shooters in NBA history, so I’ve tried to watch how he does the little things and also how he shoots the ball so I can learn more.”

One knock on McLemore is, he’s viewed as a player unwilling to take over games. On the other hand, he played just one year of college basketball after practicing a year and, at the age of 20, obviously could grow into that role.

“I think so,” KU coach Bill Self said, asked if McLemore has the makeup to become more aggressive. “He’s done it with us. He’s improved. People look at what he did from an aggressiveness standpoint, but don’t realize where he started from an aggressiveness standpoint. He’s a little bit of maturity away. He’ll get that through strength training, through repetition. Coaches and teammates will be very demanding of him. I don’t think that’s the issue. You want to draft talent first and foremost and a great kid. He fits that criteria. He’ll have to get a little nastier. There’s a lot of things people have to work on when you get to a certain level. He’ll address it and work on it. I’d rather teach him that than how to shoot, because we all know he can shoot.”

McLemore said: “Being young (last year at KU), you don’t want to mess up. Also, we had four seniors who I looked up to a lot. I learned from them my freshman year, when I had to sit out. They did so much for me. It was different the next year seeing I had to be leading scorer for the team.”

McLemore has been invited to the Green Room for the draft, ESPN reported Saturday night.

Other potential KU draftees: Jeff Withey could be selected as early as No. 21 by Utah, an NBA official told the Journal-World. “He protects the basket by blocking shots,” the official said. ... Travis Releford played well at workouts and may now be a second-round pick. “I hear he’s late 40s,” the NBA official said. “The Lakers (18th pick second round) would like to have a big guard like him. I’d say it’s 50-50 whether he gets drafted.” ... Elijah Johnson will not be drafted, the NBA official said. “He’s not on the radar. There’s some concern about his knee. If he asked me, I’d tell him to go to Spain and Italy and call it a day, make all that money over there tax-free.” Johnson worked out for Portland for a second time Saturday. ... Europe also figures to be the landing point of Kevin Young. ... Look for the Brooklyn Nets possibly to deal Tyshawn Taylor, the NBA official told the J-W. “The Nets like Isaiah Canaan of Murray State,” he said.

Withey in Indy: Withey on Saturday had his 14th and final individual workout, for the Indiana Pacers. “I have a pretty big range of where I might go,” he told the Pacers’ site on “I’ve heard anything from 15 to 30. At the same time, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m blessed to be traveling as much as I am.”


Matt Bowers 9 years, 5 months ago

Agree. The thing I keep coming back to is this. Why would you risk passing on Ben and allowing the other teams to take him? That doesn't make sense. Ben is top 5 and will remain that way. I'm not worried.

Rock Chalk

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 5 months ago

Sometimes I'm amazed.

I hear you can't coach 7 feet. Withey is that with pretty decent shot and a good free throw percentage. I would risk a shot on him.

I don't quite get how noel can't practice and he jumps up, but McLemore does and his stock drops. I still am a conspiracy theorist on this. Espn needs the players to spend a year in college, one to better the marketing, 2 to get their hat ceremonies. If noel falls, more pressure will be on the nba, if he still goes top three, no damage and everyone is happy, except the team that drafts a player with his second knee injury.

Andy Tweedy 9 years, 5 months ago

This happens every year in the draft, people talking trash about high draft picks. And you really never know what is real and what is just made up to make other teams blink. In fact, I remember very well that it happened to Raef when he was coming out. There was all kinds of noise that he was sliding in the draft, and he ended up at number 3. I guess my point is simply don't believe a word of this until it actually happens.

LAJayhawk 9 years, 5 months ago

Pierce fell. And then became a Hall of Famer. A large majority of these guys have no idea what they are doing.

Steve Zimmerman 9 years, 5 months ago

Wait a minute? I thought coach Hudy has prepared him well. Perhaps KU's men don't get trained hard enough in physical endurance? Calling Fort Riley... here they come..

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 5 months ago

He was well prepared, in the NBA it is expected that the players will keep themselves in shape. He is literally risking millions of dollars.

Plus, he knows he is expected to work out for several teams. If that's not reason enough for self-motivation then maybe another year a KU would have benefited him.

Armen Kurdian 9 years, 5 months ago

NBA is very unforgiving (I'm certainly not an NBA expert, but this is the sense I get). It's a player's game whereas the NCAA is a team game. Ben's such a great and selfless guy. Now he's got to be directed to be's time for some individual swagger. Like Gregg Marshall says (and I watched the last few minutes of WSU's victory against the Zags again last night), play angry!

JayHawkFanToo 9 years, 5 months ago

Amazing. Blackstock might end up costing McLemore millions; the difference in pay between #1 and #5 is $1.5M per year, not including the potential 20% premium that a good agent can negotiate. Over the first 3 year contract, this is over $5M, and the relationship might end up hurting KU as well.

Come on Ben, wake up and smell the coffee, Blackstock is using you to get into the business and in the process you are the one losing the money. Get rid of the leach and go with a reputable agent that will protect your interest rather than his.

Blackstock might also have gotten UNC in trouble with his relationship with PJ Hairston and his ongoing legal problems.

jhox 9 years, 5 months ago

It never ceases to amaze me how these leeches work their way into these kids' lives. This guy obviously has little clue what he's doing (in terms of his handling of Ben), and Ben seems willing to pay the price for it.

BainDread 9 years, 5 months ago

Breaking News! Leeches file objection to Sports Agent comparison. Video at 10.

justinryman 9 years, 5 months ago

Sliding in the draft only cost you money, I know money is money and money makes the world go 'round. But falling to a team that already has a few more pieces than Orlando probably wouldn't be a bad thing.

Top picks are expected to turn a team around in one year no matter how much surrounding talent they have. But go to a team that has a few other players and things can happen.

No back to that money thing, I seemed to drop a nickle around here anyone seen it?

Michael Pannacciulli 9 years, 5 months ago

Blackstock will cost Ben millions, and the University even more in collateral damage. Not a fan of this man.

jayhawkinATL 9 years, 5 months ago

<p> still has BMac at no. 2. All this talk of BMac "sliding" is comical. Speaking of sliding, has Nerlens going no. 5 to PHX and Len going no. 1.

KEITHMILES05 9 years, 5 months ago

Ben sticks with Blackstock due his mommy being very,very,very,very,very closely involved with the guy. Ben is a follower and not leader. It's him momma who is messing up Ben.

jaybate 9 years, 5 months ago

The longer the significantly unattributed story goes on, the more the significantly unattributed story seems possibly to be about Chad Ford.

Where are all the other reporters flocking to and covering his remarkable, but seemingly improbable story about a highly rated player improbably sliding in the draft for apparently improbable reasons, according to significantly unattributed sources?

If Ben really were showing poorly at workouts, wouldn't a shooting slump, or injury, be a more likely trigger than lack of fitness induced by a Svengali agent relationship?

And why would a Svengali agent who stands to make much more out of a physically fit and peak performing Ben, influence Ben into not staying fit and focused?

Chad Ford's apparent angle so far does not seem to square.

And his persistent reliance on significantly unattributed sources for negative takes leaves an impression of a smear campaign.

But why would Chad Ford want to smear a potential high NBA draft choice, and potential NBA star and product endorser from an Adidas school and risk losing access to Ben and KU and incurring Adidas wrath?

What kind of relationship might Chad Ford have that might make him report a player from an Adidas school is sliding improbably based on significantly unattributed sources?

Put another way, who might not want an Adidas school to produce two straight number 1 draft choices?

Dang, ya got me.


JayHawkFanToo 9 years, 5 months ago


Chad Ford does not attend the workouts, like other analysts, he relies on information collected by various sources, and he is not the one that originated the report or the only one mentioning the sub-par workouts.

The better agents/agencies have their own trainers and training facilities where their athletes work harder that ever, as they are jockeying for better positions in the draft; see Withey. The truth is that Blackstock does not have a clue on what to do and is using McLemore as a springboard, and in the process, causing him long term damage since he is not availing himself of the trainers and facilities available to him. Elite athletes are finely tuned machines and must train basically year around; a couple of months of inactivity will decrease performance noticeably.

McLemore's situation has nothing to do with Chad Ford or Adidas, it simply is a really bad choice of "Svengali." He picked a World Wide Wes wannabe without the background, knowledge, resources or connections. At this point, I would not be surprised to learn that there is a deeper relationship connection (moneywise) between Blackstock and the McLemore family than we know, and one that may end up costing KU big time.

Getting rid of Blackstock would send a strong signals to teams that could potentially draft him.

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 5 months ago

Maybe it was a Quarter Pounder w/cheese relationship that did him in instead of some anonymous agent.

jaybate 9 years, 5 months ago


Why would your springboard-seeking Rodney Blackstock let Ben get out of shape and out of focus, when keeping Ben in shape and in focus would result in Ben being a better springboard for Rodney, and make Rodney a lot more money?

JayHawkFanToo 9 years, 5 months ago

Because the only things Blackstock know about being an agent are jacks and squat. He obviously does not know how to prepare Ben for workouts; Chanel 5 reported that he showed up at the Phoenix workout out of shape and his "agent" would not lite him work out with the other players and he worked out for the Suns by himself. Things like this are hurting Ben and making teams wary.

Now, there is talk of Ben falling to #7...

The consensus on the sports publications is that the "tug of war" between his handlers is the main reason for the drop. I still hope he is one of the top 2.

Andy Godwin 9 years, 5 months ago

Gary, What happened to Kevin Young playing in Puerto Rico? I shared an airplane with KJ months ago and I thought he was on his way to sign a contract.

Jim Baker 9 years, 5 months ago

As I recall, Paul Pierce slid all the way to #10. Things seemed to have worked out pretty good for him. Ben's talent will make him as much cash as he can possibly make.

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 5 months ago

I agree that saw #10 spot didn't hurt Paul Pierce much in the long run but BMac isn't Paul Pierce. You just never know who will make it big and who will wash out.

yovoy 9 years, 5 months ago

BMac looks out of shape and is struggling in workouts due to his "other" activities "in da' club"...wasting money that's not his (yet), and "other" behavior that will make you look, feel, and perform poorly the day after. Hard to go from being a have-not to a have and to still make "good" decisions. I hope he gets it sorted out.

Teams draft on "potential", and BMac has it, so where he falls might surprise a few people. Best of luck to him.

Marcia Parsons 9 years, 5 months ago

And where does your information come from on "other" activities and wasting money?

yovoy 9 years, 5 months ago

From witness accounts, and I hate even mentioning it, but bad news travels fast and far. The story is focusing on his "slide" ("...McLemore’s troubles stem from his inner circle and poor conditioning.."), so I wanted to know the story behind it, and it was offered before I could even ask the person that would know.

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 5 months ago

Did you bother reading the article? Apparently his inner circle has not worked for him.

He showed take control over his workouts and kick the leeches to the curb.

yovoy 9 years, 5 months ago

Yeah. Read it. His inner circle isn't keeping him focused and "someone" is fronting him denominations larger than the normal amount used to cause precipitation in the club. This denomination is about 20x the normal size, which is odd for a kid that hasn't been drafted/gotten a paycheck yet. Look, I was privy to some info about why he might be "struggling" and "sliding". There's a story about a high first-round draft pick sliding, and there's a story about WHY that's happening - the report here is about the former. My original comment is about the latter. Some people are their own worst enemy: especially if they don't have the experience to save themselves and if their crew is ONLY out for fun.

canuckhawk 9 years, 5 months ago

A small slide only costs a "little" money on the first contract. The way your really lose money is getting yourself in a rotten situation for your rookie years and then your second contract is absent or much, much smaller and over few years than you could have otherwise received.

David Meredith 9 years, 5 months ago

He is a Miami Heat fan... I think all young players are it seems.

actorman 9 years, 5 months ago

Hear, hear re Travis. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that either the 50-50 chance pays off and he drafted, or he signs a free-agent deal with a team that's best suited for his skills.

kellerman411 9 years, 5 months ago

That would be awesome if Phoenix took him at 5.

FearlessJayhawk 9 years, 5 months ago

If I was Ben, I would try to get drafted by a team that has the best shot of winning a championship ring. The problem with high draft choices, they tend to get picked by teams without a chance of doing anything. Things worked out perfect for Mario Chalmers.

Keith Kienzle 9 years, 5 months ago

Things did work out perfect for Mario, but that's not because he got drafted later in the first round by a team competing for a title, as you seem to be implying. The Heat team that year sucked, and had sucked the previous year, which is why they also got Beasley at #2. It was a few seasons later that they blew up the roster, and cut bait on Beasley to load up on their big 3 and others.

JayHawkFanToo 9 years, 5 months ago

Mario was drafted in the second round by the Timberwolves and then the rights traded to Miami.

kerbyd 9 years, 5 months ago

Speaking of agent wannabes, how is Jay-Z doing these days?

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 5 months ago

Busy counting his money from promoting musicians. The first NBA player Jay-Z is expected to sign is Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant and in baseball, that looks like Robinson Cano is jumping on the bandwagon.

If you don't think Jay Z will be a major player in representing sports figures then you need to pay more attention.

He wouldn't be my choice but discounting him would be a mistake.

justanotherfan 9 years, 5 months ago

Every year someone slides because of "poor pre draft workouts" or "bad medical reports." This year it happens to be Ben. Thing is, it doesn't matter.

Ben is going to get drafted in the top 10, probably by a team with a severe need for his scoring ability. If he works hard and puts up big numbers, where he got drafted will be a footnote in his career, much like Paul Pierce, Dwyane Wade and others. If he doesn't work hard, or if he's not quite talented enough, or can't stay healthy, where he got drafted will be the only story, like Darko Milicic, Michael Olowakandi, or others.

Which brings us to Jeff Withey. He's probably going to end up at the end of the first round, or maybe into the second. He's just not physical enough or strong enough to play center in the NBA. He struggled against physical players in college. That is literally all he will see in the NBA. My guess is he plays a year or two in the D-League before making an impact in the rotation at the pro level.

Allen Shepard 9 years, 5 months ago

Lost 95% of my sympathy for him after hearing the Heat thing...

actorman 9 years, 5 months ago

He's from St. Louis. What team would you EXPECT him to root for??? If a young guy doesn't have a local team growing up, you would figure he'd gravitate towards rooting for the best team.

jhawk1998 9 years, 5 months ago

Reprinting nearly the entirety of previously published articles by Chad Ford make not good journalism. If Gary is going to write something he should be required to get his own stuff and not second-source another journalist's opinion. If you confirm this information yourself and want to write an article like this fine but just regurgitating another reporter's work is lazy. No wonder no one buys the paper anymore.

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