Archive for Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Little brother says KU recruit Ben McLemore LeBron-like

Kansas University recruit Ben McLemore smiles as he sits in the crowd for KU's game against Miami (Ohio) University on Jan. 2, 2011.

Kansas University recruit Ben McLemore smiles as he sits in the crowd for KU's game against Miami (Ohio) University on Jan. 2, 2011.

April 5, 2011, 12:00 a.m. Updated April 5, 2011, 10:01 a.m.

Advertisement

Kevin McLemore stood to the side and watched with pride as his big brother, Ben, orally committed to Kansas University over runner-up Missouri at a news conference Sunday at Sears Centre in suburban Chicago.

“He’s the next up-and-coming star of the family,” cousin Richard Boyd said of Kevin, a sophomore guard from St. Louis’ Normandy High. “Hopefully, in two years we’ll be doing this again.”

It’s too early to tell if Kevin McLemore will emerge as a major-college recruit. One thing’s for sure: He will play college ball if KU-bound Ben has anything to say about it.

“He has helped me a lot. He showed me a couple moves,” Kevin said.

Does Ben remind his little brother of anybody?

“I’d say LeBron James,” Kevin said. “He loves LeBron James. We’ll be going against each other, and he’ll say he’s LeBron James.”

Of course, there’s no way the soft-spoken Ben McLemore, a 6-foot-5 guard out of Houston’s Christian Life Center, would ever hint he is a LeBron in the making.

“I think Ben is one of the most humble, unselfish kids I’ve ever had the pleasure of being around,” said Darius Cobb, McLemore’s AAU coach, formerly of the St. Louis Majestics, now with Missouri Impact.

“You ask me what I expect of him at Kansas his first year. Whatever Bill (Self, KU coach) wants him to do, he’ll do it. If he needs 30 (points), he’ll give him 30. If he needs 15 assists, he’ll give him that. If he needs 40 minutes of defense, he’ll do that. If he needs him to keep stats, he’ll do that,” he added.

Cobb first started working with McLemore when Ben was in the fifth grade. Now Ben is Rivals.com’s No. 17-rated recruit nationally.

“I would say by his eighth-grade, ninth-grade year,” Cobb said of when he knew Ben had major-college potential. “Because everything he did was so smooth and fluent. In sixth, seventh grade, he was a center. I guess everybody thought he’d be the next Shaq,” Cobb added, noting McLemore stood 6-1 at the time.

“He’s a legit 6-6 now,” Cobb said. “I think he’s still growing.”

Cobb said McLemore is a true gym rat.

“That’s the understatement of the day,” Cobb said. “AAU, high school, neighborhood pickup ... wherever he could play, he’d play.”

On one condition.

“As long as he did his schoolwork and housework,” said his mom, Sonya, who goes by the nickname of “Peaches.”

She acknowledge basketball is Ben’s passion.

“For now it is,” she said. “Things can change.”

That’s why, in her mind, “getting a degree would be the first priority. It’s all about the education.”

Which brings us to rumors that McLemore will not qualify academically for a scholarship. His first high school, St. Louis’ Wellston High (where he averaged 28.3 points and 12.7 rebounds as a junior) was closed down by the state after his junior year.

He moved on to Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., where he was dismissed this winter for violating undisclosed team rules. Now he’s finishing high school at Christian Life Center.

“Ben has never had academic problems,” Cobb said. “He is like any high school kid who maybe didn’t realize at first the importance (of grades). At the beginning of his junior year, he took his first core courses and did well. I think rumors of him being a nonqualifier might have helped Kansas. Some schools didn’t recruit him.”

Cobb added that he felt Ben would qualify at KU.

As far as Ben’s dismissal at Oak Hill, school officials have never commented on the matter.

“That wasn’t a grade problem. I broke a school rule,” Ben told Cedric Williams of earlaustinjr.com, not identifying the rule. “I didn’t know it was against the rules. But I did it. And I learned a lesson from it. And now I’m just concentrating on getting my grades good so for next year.”

Christian Life Center coach Carlos Wilson said he has been impressed in the short time he’s known McLemore, who averaged 16 points and seven rebounds in six games.

“He’s probably one of the most athletically gifted kids that I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach,” Wilson told Rivals.com. “He just got in, and you would have never been able to tell that this kid was a top-20 kid or a kid that was a high-major-caliber kid, because his demeanor didn’t portray that. He got in and worked like he was one of the guys. That was the most impressive thing about him, and that’s why the guys opened up to him so quickly.”

McLemore showed the ability to score inside and out at the NeXt All-America game. He swished five threes in the all-star game’s scrimmage Saturday and slammed a vicious dunk after driving the middle of the lane in overtime of Sunday’s victory.

“I loved his outside touch,” Wilson said of his work at Christian Life Center. “Everybody knows he’s athletic, and he’s a monster athlete, but you don’t have many athletes that are high-level athletes that are also high-level shooters. I’ve been watching him stroke the ball, and I think he’s just as good a shooter as he is an athlete.”

Coach Cobb helps

The McLemore family has praised Cobb for his assistance during the recruiting process.

“Whenever I got headaches, I’d pass it to him, and he’d take it,” Ben’s mom, Sonya, said of Cobb.

He was happy to lend a hand.

“Ben experienced a lot of pressure being a hometown kid. Mizzou had an up-and-coming program and had great coaching there with Mike (Anderson) and Melvin (Watkins). The staff (which has moved on to Arkansas) was very accommodating to Ben and his family. At the same time, he had a lot of people looking at the excitement that Kansas is creating, the national championship, the ability for him to come in and be a premier player.”

Mom loves MU

The McLemore recruiting story might make a good movie some day. Peaches is a passionate Missouri fan who flat-out admits it’s tough for her to accept her son heading to MU’s rival.

“As a mother, I am here to support him,” she said.

Yet the two had some good, old-fashioned family arguments during the recruiting process.

“Were there friendly fights?” she was asked.

“Friendly?” Cobb said with a laugh.

“Yes, we did (argue),” mom said. “It was tough. One thing changed it. He came and said, ‘This is where I want to go.’ As a mom, there’s support here.”

Peaches smiled Sunday when Ben was asked if it was a red-letter day in his young life.

“I’m getting at that age making decisions on my own now,” McLemore said. “It is one of the happiest days of my life. My whole family is with me now. I made my decision. I’m so happy right now.”

McLemore’s nicknames?

B-Mac and Flight School, according to his three sisters.

Josh back home

KU freshman Josh Selby’s Twitter account has several posts revealing he’s back in his hometown of Baltimore this week. Selby has yet to make an announcement on whether he’s to return to KU for a second season or enter the NBA Draft.

Meanwhile, NBA writer Alex Kennedy tweeted on Tuesday that "Josh Selby will enter the NBA Draft and hire an agent, according to sources. He's currently working out at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas."

Selby's mom Maeshon Witherspoon said on Tuesday that reports were not true and no decision on Selby's future had been reached. She said she was "sorry for the speculation" and would report news when any decision had been reached.

Comments

Nikki May 4 years, 5 months ago

Yeah, hoping he's not Lebron like at the education, of course we HAVE to get one year, but come on, play all 4, KU is great. I heard the rumor is Selby is declaring. It's all over twitter ;) Anyway, not a good plan - I think he needs more development, but it opens a spot for someone else. Look at the improvement Tyshawn had this year. I know not everyone is a TT fan, but he's WAY better this year. Good luck Selby, you'll need it. And welcome to Kansas Ben.

rtwngr 4 years, 5 months ago

If Selby had a confidence problem this year, he might want to rethink going pro. The NBA is no place to be if you have confidence issues. If he goes pro, he will wash out quickly and still not have a college degree. Of course KU has the, "Come on back and earn your degree," welfare program. That way you can burn your eligibility, not graduate, and still get to come back and go to school.

tyson travis 4 years, 5 months ago

Any MU Mom who supports her son in choosing KU is OK with me. Looks like MU is in a bit of turmoil anyway. We've got Mama Angel for the Twins, now Mama Peaches for B-Mac. These young kids need an active Mama support group, witness the support Mama Angel gave TR after his own mother's passing or Sasha's Mom spending time all the way from Russia looking after her son. I don't think Josh has any business coming out with such a brief body of work, he could do well with another year of seasoning under HCBS.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 5 months ago

What has Lebron won? Here's to hoping Ben is like Mike and not Lebron.

1029 4 years, 5 months ago

As long as he doesn't throw confectioners' sugar into the air before games like LeBron does. That stuff will attract rats if it doesn't get cleaned up completely.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 4 years, 5 months ago

You know, this is getting to be like a broken record. Another high school "wunderkind" decides to come to KU, with no mention whatsoever as to what sort of education he is seeking, just that he will want to bounce the ball around Allen Fieldhouse, and the JW prints these "whooptedoo" "we gonna win everything" articles. The most recent experience in the NCAA tournament with all the alleged miracle players on the team has again ended in a very short run and yet, the JW continues this disgusting habit of huge laudifications of kids who have still not even finished high school. Is there no wonder what is wrong here? Dumping the manifest destiny expetations on a kid who is still sitting in math or English class to be the great savior of a lack-luster performing basketball team.

You would think someone there might get the message.

ShawHawk 4 years, 5 months ago

frwent, the JW exists to sell itself and their readers enjoy reading about the incoming recruits. No one is going to purchase a paper so they can read Ben McLemore's class schedule.

The Elite Eight isn't a "very short run." Only 8 schools out of 350+ in Division 1 can say they made it that far. And there is nothing "lack-luster" about the basketball team's performance. The program has won more games, both in the tournament and the regular season, than any other program over the last decade.

Zk4bz 4 years, 5 months ago

The point of any college is to train a young person in a certain fieid of expertise. In the case of certain people, basketball is their area of focus. The kid is getting a basketball degree. You may not like a university providing this type of training, but it's really not much different than any liberal arts degree...in that only the very best of the best will find any real success because of it. The benefit for great athletes is that they can monetize their talent early on. Whereas most degrees will take many years to provide even a remotely comparable return.

rgh 4 years, 5 months ago

If Selby's not going to the NBA why isn't he in classes like my daughter is right now?

windjammer 4 years, 5 months ago

Because he is more important than your daughter.

CardHawkFan 4 years, 5 months ago

Good point rgh! Josh, get your butt back in class! Don't burn any bridges just yet. If the NBA isn't the right fit, you need to be eligible!...Because of course he is going to read this, and even follow my advice as well. Just a thought!

hammerhawk 4 years, 5 months ago

I long for the days when good men came to play basketball at Kansas University and did a good job for four years. I was in attendance when Selby made his debut and thought we had a real winner. Unfortunately, that didn't pan out. I would like it if he stays but don't let the door hit you in the butt if you leave. The same sentiment goes for the rest of the team. Good luck, Ben. I will be at the fieldhouse when you make your debut, too.

MizzouDominates 4 years, 5 months ago

Ben will grow to regret his decision. Go to Can'tsas and be another player and at most a star, or stay in your home state and forever be a Legend. Was it the 3 National Titles in 80 years that caught his eye??? Only took UConn 12 years to amass the same amount of titles. Ben could have walked around anywhere in the state of MO, he would have been high fived, patted on the back had drinks, food or whatever else bought for him. Now he'll forever be a traitor and shunned by 7 million. Ah the life of an 18 yr old . Atleast we know he'll get "special education" like Markief is getting at ku where "we get 'em past the clearinghouse, no problems"...stay classy and uneducated ku.

pizzapete 4 years, 5 months ago

Missery couldn't even dominate the NIT. They had no business being in the NCAA tournament this year, BTW.

drnater 4 years, 5 months ago

You might want to rethink this comment, after all it is Missouri who couldnt get their top recruit to play this year because his grades werent good enough to get into college. Oh well its stuff like that, that is overlooked when it comes to hatred for Kansas. Maybe, the reason he didnt go to MU is because they didnt have a coach when he committed, or the fact that they couldnt beat KU this year. Actually, I think the only reason it came down to KU and MU is because his mom is such a huge MU fan. Otherwise, like Bradley Beal he would have just looked at KU and other schools, all while shunning the Tigers.

Brian Conrad 4 years, 5 months ago

Missery , never been to a Final Four .. will not even be in top four in conference , will get little national attention and in general they just suck.. so funny MU fan talkin trash .. players doin the AD's wife.. your program complete joke and you will not make NIT. your program is mid major at best.. no history . not titles.. nothing. you were snubbed by big 10 and if not for KU well you guys would be left dangling in the wind.. so funny we are big 10 Big 10... the Big ten says NO interest in Ole Fizzou. Missouri , bunch of one tooth sister lovin racists.. still a slavery state If not for the Strong Backbone of Kansas the Free State. young men never forget the civil war is still going on between these two states and Kansas was always on the side of Freedom not like ole Mizzou..white trash inbred hillybilly mullet heads PS MU has zero National Championships in .. well FOREVER!! hahahahahhahahahah

fabian_zimbabwe 4 years, 5 months ago

I smell the strong stench of jealousy wafting from the east. Ah, another Mizzou troll crashes our boards. Welcome! You, um, may want to get your own house in order before throwing stones in our direction.

fabian_zimbabwe 4 years, 5 months ago

Interesting screen name, too. Exactly what does Mizzou dominate?

CardHawkFan 4 years, 5 months ago

Shunned by 7 million people who don't matter (with the exception of the Cardinals contingency during baseball season) all of whom are secretly crying themselves to sleep. Lost another chance at getting a player who will help you finish in the top half of the Big 12! Oh by the way, MizzouDominates (absolutely nothing except a linear family tree), speaking of special education, Markeiff is spelled with two f's there bud!

Commenting has been disabled for this item.