Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

April 10, 2013

KU's McLemore declares for NBA Draft

LAWRENCE, Kan. — The hardest decision of Ben McLemore's life turned out to be no question at all.

Kansas coach Bill Self made sure of it.

The talented guard announced Tuesday that he will enter the NBA draft after perhaps the most successful season by a freshman in the school's proud basketball history. And just in case he thought twice about passing up professional riches, Self was ready to shove him out the door.

"Ben kept telling us in February, `Don't worry about getting anybody else. I'm coming back,''' Self recalled. "I said, `Yeah, right. You want to make a public announcement?' ... If he told me he wanted to come back, I would have told him, `We need to look at this again.'''

That's because McLemore's stock couldn't be much higher.

The second-team All-American is expected to be a lottery pick in June after breaking the Jayhawks' freshman scoring record held by Danny Manning. McLemore averaged nearly 16 points for a team that went 31-6 and won a share of its ninth straight Big 12 championship.

"My mom, we talked, my family, talked to the coaches, and I made the decision that I'm going to enter the NBA draft,'' said McLemore, who had several family members on hand at Allen Fieldhouse.

"I think it's the best opportunity to help me and my family out,'' he said, "and even as a kid, that's what I wanted to do. I have an opportunity to provide for my family.''

McLemore is the third Kansas freshman coached by Self to leave school early. Shooting guard Xavier Henry was selected 12th overall by Memphis in 2010, and point guard Josh Selby was a late second-round pick of the Grizzlies the following year.

McLemore was forced to redshirt last season when he was declared a partial qualifier by the NCAA, but he made the most of his only season in Lawrence. With a dizzying array of dunks, a silky smooth outside shot and a boyish grin, he quickly became one of the school's top players. He even graced a regional cover for Sports Illustrated prior to the start of the NCAA tournament.

"Growing up, I wasn't the kid to be a fighter, like that, but coming to college, I had to mature and understand how I need to be to go play at the next level,'' McLemore said. "I have to thank the coaching staff for that.''

McLemore helped the Jayhawks advance to the regional semifinals last month, where they blew a late lead and lost to eventual national runner-up Michigan. He scored 20 points in that game, and proved to have another trait that should come in handy in the NBA: A short memory.

He was 0 for 9 from the field in his previous game, a win over North Carolina.

No stage was too big for McLemore, either. He hit the buzzer-beating 3-pointer to force overtime in a win over Iowa State, poured in 30 points in a win over rival Kansas State and had a career-high 36 points against West Virginia late in the season.

McLemore hasn't hired an agent, but said, "I'll sit down and talk to some people and figure out where I want to sign and who I want to work with.''

McLemore's departure, which had been expected, means the Jayhawks will have to replace all five starters from a team that finished 31-6 this season. Jeff Withey, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Kevin Young were all seniors.

"On the surface it would look like a huge rebuilding job,'' Self said, "but we've had rebuilding jobs here before.''

Self has already started to restock with one of the nation's top recruiting classes, headlined by top-50 guards Conner Frankamp and Wayne Selden. Two other top-50 players, forward Brannen Greene and center Joel Embiid, have also signed along with point guard Frank Mason.

Self still has three scholarships available after McLemore's departure and the decision this past week by freshman guard Anrio Adams to transfer closer to his home in Seattle.

The Jayhawks are still in the running for Andrew Wiggins, a 6-7 forward who many experts consider the top high school player in the country. Wiggins is being pursued by Kentucky, Florida State and North Carolina, and is expected to announce his intentions in the next few weeks.

Wiggins' brother, Nick Wiggins, just finished his junior season with Wichita State.

"We'd like to add another piece or two, without question,'' Self said. "It's hard to say if we're going to be good, or how good, but I'd be really surprised if next year's team isn't competitive, and doesn't compete for championships, just like other teams we've had here.''

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0237web.jpg Hrdlicka, Teter pour ‘heart’ into Zebra soccer program

    For the past four years, Claremore High School seniors Katelin Teter and Nick Hrdlicka have represented the ‘heart and soul’ of the Lady Zebra and Zebra soccer programs.
    The soccer duo will join seven other seniors on Friday night for Homecoming against Collinsville at Lantow Field.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • DSC_0014web.jpg 9 straight for Lady Zebras

    Claremore sophomore forward Bailey Steckline got the ‘hat-trick’ plus one Tuesday night in the Lady Zebras’ 10-0 win over Tulsa Memorial at  LaFortune Stadium.
    Steckline tallied two goals in the first half, and added two more in the second to complete her impressive night.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0156web.jpg Tulsa Memorial holds off Zebras, 2-1

    Tulsa Memorial scored a pair of first-half goals  to steal the momentum away from the Claremore Zebras, as well as the 2-1 win Tuesday night in Metro Lakes Conference action at LaFortune Stadium.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0015web.jpg BASEBALL: Whatley, Howe power Zebras past Tahlequah

    Claremore’s Matt Whatley has proven over the past four years that he’s one of the toughest outs in the Metro Lakes Conference.
    On Tuesday, Whatley went 3-for-4 with two singles and a triple while sparking the Zebras to a 12-2 win over Tahlequah in five innings at American Legion Park.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • BASEBALL: Dewey takes pair from Sequoyah

    It’s very difficult to win when you can’t score.
    Class 4A third-ranked Dewey blanked homestanding Sequoyah 7-0 and 2-0 in a district doubleheader on Tuesday, improving to 21-3 with a dominating two-hit pitching performance in the opener and a four-hitter in the nightcap.

    April 18, 2014

  • SOCCER: Sequoyah topples No. 15 Catoosa, 1-0

    Sequoyah boys soccer coach Bob Campbell had one phrase to sum up his feelings following the Eagles’ game with 15th ranked Catoosa at home Tuesday night.
    “We’re in the driver’s seat.’’
    Alex Bourgeois scored late in the first half and Sequoyah made it stand up for a 1-0 victory over the Indians in a showdown for the district lead.

    April 18, 2014

  • Jackson sprints Zebras to 1st place at OBU Relays

    Claremore senior sprinter Tyler Jackson felt the need for speed Wednesday afternoon at the Oklahoma Baptist University High School Invitational.
    Jackson notched a pair of first-place victories in the 200-meter dash and the 400-meter dash to help Claremore earn 130 points for top honors.

    April 18, 2014

  • BASEBALL: Arkansas Tech roughs up ‘Cats

    The Rogers State University baseball team had a disappointing finish in its home finale as No. 12-ranked Arkansas Tech blanked the Hillcats 11-0 Tuesday evening in non-conference action from the Diamond Sports Complex.

    April 18, 2014

  • BASEBALL: Southwest Baptist slips past NSU, 5-3

     The Northeastern State baseball team lost 5-3 to Southwest Baptist Thursday afternoon at Dobson Field.
     
    The RiverHawks (19-22, 15-18 MIAA) held a 3-0 lead early in the contest, but a late rally from the Bearcats (23-18, 19-13 MIAA) and costly errors from the visitors allowed the home team to secure the series-opening triumph.

    April 18, 2014

  • WOMEN'S TENNIS: Conference champion NSU lands top seed in MIAA tourney

    The No. 31-ranked Northeastern State women's tennis team has drawn the top seed in the 2014 MIAA Women's Tennis Championship, the league announced Thursday morning.

    April 18, 2014