Ben McLemore announced today he will be leaving Kansas to enter the NBA Draft.
“I will remember this place for the rest of my life,” McLemore said at his press conference, repeating over and over again his appreciation for his teammates, coaches, and fans.
Head coach Bill Self encouraged McLemore to make this decision.
“This is not bittersweet. This is sweet-sweet,” Self said. “Ben has a chance to live out his dream.”
Self thinks McLemore could “absolutely” be the number one pick.
“I don’t think he’s scratched the surface of what he can be.”
This is not surprising news as many project McLemore to be the first overall pick in June’s draft. He would become the second straight Jayhawk to be selected in the top five of the draft after Thomas Robinson was drafted fifth overall by the Sacramento Kings last year.
McLemore averaged 15.9 points and 5.2 rebounds a game this season for the Jayhawks. He scored 20 points in KU’s loss to Michigan in the Sweet Sixteen on April 29. He scored 20 or more points 11 times this season.
As of right today, NBADraft.net and CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman each have McLemore as the top ranked prospect in the draft, while ESPN’s Chad Ford has McLemore ranked as third best prospect in the draft behind Nerlens Noel and Marcus Smart. Many are assigning Ray Allen comparisons to McLemore because of his smooth shooting stroke and athleticism. Some believe he has the ability to be an All-Star player in the NBA.
His critics will say McLemore will disappear in some games and does not have the killer instinct to takeover a game. Others would like to see him develop his offensive game off the dribble to create more shots for himself.
Even if McLemore does not reach his All-Star potential he will still be one of the most “sure things” in this down NBA draft class. McLemore’s shot plus his athleticism will make him a valuable piece on any NBA roster. Whether or not he become “The Guy’ is the question NBA teams are going to have to ask themselves once the calendar turns to June 27.