Yesterday, the head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks Bill Self spoke with ESPN’s Andy Katz on Katz’ Korner about the likelihood of Jayhawk redshirt freshman Ben McLemore jumping to the NBA after playing only one season.
Self was cagey with his answers but Kansas fans shouldn’t get their hopes up. There is little chance McLemore returns next season and there really is little reason for him to. McLemore has a beautiful jump shot and displays an athleticism few can match. Sure, he has some things to work on, such as his ball handling, defense, and aggressiveness. Despite those areas in which he could improve, he certainly looks as if he is ready for the next level. Mock draft boards agree.
ESPN, WalterFootball.com, and Hoops Manifesto all have McLemore going first in the 2013 NBA. Sporting News, Draft Express, and CBS Sports have him going second. Even if all these drafts are wrong (and they often are), McLemore will certainly be a top 5 pick. Who could blame any kid from jumping at the opportunity to make the kind of money being a top 5 NBA pick would earn? No one should. This is an opportunity for the young man to take care of his family, and he should be commended for that.
Bill Self is certainly a realist. He knows Ben McLemore will never again play in front of 16,300 screaming fanatics in Phog Allen Fieldhouse again. He just can’t come right out and say it. He has to hedge his statements because there is still a championship to be won, a conference tournament trophy to snag, and a NCAA title to pursue. Self has never shied away from advising players to jump if it is in their best interests – those who have consulted him. McLemore has had a fantastic freshman season and will end up passing KU legend Danny Manning in points for a freshman (this is slightly skewed as there was no 3-point shot in Manning freshman year). He has been a key element in KU’s success this season and all can see he is a rare athletic talent. As much as it would be awesome to see him in college again, it just isn’t going to happen
Self has probably known this early on. NCAA schools are allowed 13 basketball scholarships. Kansas has 5 available right now for the 2013-2014 season from the four seniors graduating and Zach Peters leaving the program in December. Self has inked 5 prep players to fill those holes already but has been aggressive in recruiting Julius Randle, Andrew Wiggins, and others. Someone else will not be with the program next season and the obvious player is Ben McLemore.
Everyone would love to see McLemore for another season but no one should blame him for leaving. Bill Self won’t. He knows we got to see something. Let’s just enjoy watching him for (hopefully) ten more games. He has represented this university well and he will always be a Jayhawk.