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Archive for Tuesday, April 9, 2013

KU freshman Ben McLemore declares for NBA Draft

Kansas guard Ben McLemore wipes away tears as he leaves a news conference with family members after declaring his intention to enter the 2013 NBA Draft. At left is his mother, Sonja Reid Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Kansas guard Ben McLemore wipes away tears as he leaves a news conference with family members after declaring his intention to enter the 2013 NBA Draft. At left is his mother, Sonja Reid Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

April 9, 2013, 2:44 p.m. Updated April 10, 2013, 12:13 a.m.

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Ben McLemore, Bill Self press conference

Kansas guard Ben McLemore and KU coach Bill Self talk during a press conference where McLemore declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft on April 9, 2013.

Ben McLemore knows he made the right decision in choosing to enter his name in the 2013 NBA Draft.

“All my teammates and coaches said, ‘If it’s your time, it’s your time.’ It was my time,” the 20-year-old Kansas University freshman sensation said at a Tuesday news conference announcing his decision to leave school with three years of eligibility remaining.

“As a kid growing up, that’s what I wanted to do,” McLemore added of playing at the highest level. “Now I’ve got the opportunity to do that and provide for my family.”

Though seen as a no-brainer — McLemore is expected to be taken in the top three of the June draft — the decision was nonetheless painful for a person who is in no hurry to cut short his college experience.

The 6-foot-5 St. Louis native covered his eyes as he was embraced by his mother and two sisters shortly after leaving the media room where he and coach Bill Self fielded questions for about 30 minutes.

“I’ll remember this place the rest of my life,” McLemore said. “I’m going to miss my teammates, coaching staff, academic people and I am definitely going to miss the fans. The fans were supportive throughout this whole season.”

McLemore recalled fondly the night he scored 30 points in a win over Kansas State — a game in which KU’s fans serenaded him with “Happy Birthday” as he left the court.

“Being here, I’ve changed a lot,” said McLemore, KU’s all-time freshman scoring leader at 15.9 ppg. “Like coach said, I’ve matured a lot too. I’m a humble person and soft-spoken kid, but just being able to be here and have this special day is a blessing.”

It’s a day Self said was inevitable because of McLemore’s skills and where the second-team All-American is projected to fall in the draft.

“My personal opinion is if he were my son I would certainly strongly recommend he make the jump at this time,” Self said.

“I don’t think there was one time our staff sat around this year and said, ‘We hope Ben comes back.’ When he started blowing up, a little bit after the Ohio State game (22 points in Dec. 22 victory), I’m thinking, ‘Oh jeez. I’m glad we have him because we’re winning, but we aren’t going to have him long.’’’

McLemore, who red-shirted a year ago, had progressed so rapidly last winter that Self just knew Ben was exaggerating when he told the staff he’d be back for another season.

“Ben kept telling us in February ‘Don’t worry about getting anybody else, I’m coming back,’ and we were like, ‘Yeah, right,’” Self said with a laugh. “We did say, ‘Do you want to make that a public announcement?’ but he didn’t ever agree to that so I knew that I was in trouble.

“But things change. The thing that was really encouraging to me about Ben and how he handled everything was he didn’t handle it during the season. That wasn’t something weighing on his head or heart because he knew he still had a job to do here, and if you do your job here then you have an opportunity to make decisions after. If he would have told me he wanted to come back I would have said, ‘Well Ben, we need to look at this again.’”

The next step for McLemore is to hire an agent.

“I’ll sit down and talk to some people and figure out where I want to sign and who I want to work with,” he said.

One thing is sure. McLemore will be a wealthy man next season. The money will come in handy after growing up in near poverty as a child in St. Louis.

“It was kind of tough, but at the same time, growing up not having a lot, I don’t need to talk about what I don’t have. I remember coach saying that,” McLemore said. “I just talk about what I want to try to get, and try to help my family. Being little, growing up, you just think about you want to provide for your family. Coming here and sitting out last year and being able to play this year, I got the opportunity to do that and I took it.”

Self said McLemore would remain enrolled in classes the rest of the semester. As far as the Jayhawks’ future, Self now must replace all five starters from a 31-6 team. KU has signed five high school players with three scholarships left to award.

“On the surface it would look like a huge rebuilding job,” Self said, “but we’ve had rebuilding jobs here before. We’d like to add another piece or two, without question. 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.”

Where will he land?: McLemore was asked if there’s any team he’d like to draft him.

“No, not really. I am a Miami Heat fan, but I really don’t have a team I really want to go to and play for,” he said.

Upon hearing his fondness for the Heat, Self cracked: “You’re not going to fall to No. 30, bud.”

Self on whether McLemore will be taken No. 1 overall: “I think Ben would agree that there’s probably no clear-cut, definite No. 1, but from what I’ve seen I think everybody’s got him 1, 2 or 3. I can’t believe that he would fall out of that range, because I know he’ll work,” Self said.

How much money?: If McLemore is selected No. 1 in the draft, he’d make $4,436,900 next season, $4,636,600 in the second year and $4,836,300 in the third year. If he’s taken No. 2, he’d make $3,939,800 his first year, $4,148,500 the second and $4,327,100 the third. If he’s selected No. 3 he’d make $3,565,000 next year, $3,725,400 the second and $3,885,800 the third. Fourth year is team option.

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Ben McLemore press conference

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Comments

The_Original_Bob 1 year, 8 months ago

Good for Ben. Saint Self did this the right way. Hopefully, Wiggins is paying attention.

And Saint Self did the Rio Adams thing masterfully, as well. To make it appear that it was Rio's idea to leave. Brilliant.

flloyd 1 year, 8 months ago

I never thought he was a good match for us. Our program is about "team" and not individual obsession.

rgh 1 year, 8 months ago

Naadir put in his time on the bench and will be great next year. If Rio would have kept his mouth shut and just practiced and played, he would have had the chance to wear that ring in a year or two also.

rgh 1 year, 8 months ago

You must have him confused for the former Rutgers coach and Frank Haith who still hasn't cleared his name from the NCAA investigation.

jonas_opines 1 year, 8 months ago

Thanks for saving us at home against Iowa State, Ben! We lost the streak later but that was a hell of a shot. Good luck in the pros.

Aileen Dingus 1 year, 8 months ago

After seeing Kevin Ware writhing on the floor last weekend, do you blame Ben for making the run to the pros now? That sort of injury (or worse) can happen to these athletes at any time. He can come back and get a degree even if he's wheelchair-bound, he's thinking smart to go pro now while he's healthy.

Jeff Kilgore 1 year, 8 months ago

By looking at the picture, I think you'll see that Ben's decision, while easy to make in one way, was hard in the other. With your last comment, you blame McLemore for a system he didn't create, and the kids who could come in and play for Ben are not as talented.

No one likes the current system, but if this were your son, and damned sure if it was mine, the choice would be for a thing called millions. The only reason a lot of students go to college is "because they have to." The dropout rate at KU and other institutions nears 50%, so you can pick on Ben, but are you as critical of the thousands of others who plop down their parents' hard earned money and fail?

Food_for_Thought 1 year, 8 months ago

I find it funny when people bring this up about college athletes who bail out early to begin their professional career. An athlete has a small window when they can play, why waste those years working toward an education when you can begin the career you've worked all your youthful years toward achieving? He'll have millions of dollars in his career, so as long as he doesn't mismanage his money, it's not like he'll need a job immediately after he retires from basketball (or ever). Then, when he's got all the spare time in the world (because he's no longer playing professional ball), he can finish his education, because he (1) has millions of dollars, (2) and if he has a great career, he'll be famous, so he likely will be able to earn that education at whatever college he wants. Yeah, what an idiot for chasing his dreams and providing financial security for himself and his family over getting an education while he's still a kid. Newsflash - Associates, Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorates are worth the same, whether you earn one (or more) in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or older.

Judgesmails 1 year, 8 months ago

Go to bed, old man.

Obviously, you have no idea what youre talking about..

Dont forget to DVR matlock and walker, idiot.

James Minor 1 year, 8 months ago

Ben gave us two great years, one where he worked hard out of the limelight and the second taking us to the Sweet 16. Pursuing the chance to live your dreams regardless if it's the NBA, Microsoft or Oracle, is the right decision. Oletimer, I would be willing to guess that if you won Powerball tomorrow you would go into work till you retire?????

Take_a_letter_Maria 1 year, 8 months ago

So, what is the reason most people go to college? To obtain the knowledge required for them to make a better living for themselves in the pursuit of theif chosen profession right? That is exactly what Ben did. If the New York Times came in and offered a job to a J-school kid after two years do you think they'd pass on the money for an extra couple of years of school? What about a Big 4 coming after an accounting student?

I agree that the rule requiring these guys go to school a year before declaring is a joke. They should be able to come up with some ruling that allows those players who would be drafted to go straight to the league while requiring at least a three year commitment for those that go to college (like baseball does). As for thousands of kids that could play basketball and attend college but can't thanks to players like Ben, THAT is an idiotic statement. If you can play and want to go to school, someone will find you. It may mean having to settle for a lesser school, but you'll be playing.

Armen Kurdian 1 year, 8 months ago

DUDE! You TOTALLY stole my thunder. WTH? You hit all my points.

msezdsit 1 year, 8 months ago

Your way to full of yourself old timer. Fortunately Ben is smart enough to know what is right for him and his family even though your selfish enough to think he should do what you want him to do. priceless

jonas_opines 1 year, 8 months ago

I don't know if I'd give that much credit. At some point, incoherent outrage at something simply gains its own critical mass and has a life of its own.

conlawgrad 1 year, 8 months ago

If money was the motivating factor, then the picture above is incredibly sad. What if he doesn't want to leave his teammates and coaches behind but feels obligated to leave because of his family situation? A kid at 20 years old shouldn't feel the need to take care of his family if he truly wants to stay with his friends and continue to get better and grow. I'm not saying he made the wrong choice but the picture above seems to say that he made the choice because he felt like he needed to rather than wanted to.

gatekeeper 1 year, 8 months ago

You go live in extreme poverty and watch your family have a really hard time trying to pay their bills and keep their heads above water and see if you'd jump to make millions so their lives can be better. A selfish person would stay because they wanted to stay with their friends. A selfless, loving brother and son would do what it takes to give his family a better life.

Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 8 months ago

Thank you. You are exactly right. In the third world countries, and yes, in this country, there are young people a lot younger who have to take care of their families. How many of you had to be responsible and help out in many ways to keep things together at home?

conlawgrad 1 year, 8 months ago

So, it's OK for a 20 year old to take care of his family? I'm aware that it happens a lot but to sacrifice an education and lasting friendships at 20 years old because your family needs you to make money is an awful situation. I don't think anyone would disagree. Again, he made the right decision for his family, but what about for him? Maybe he wanted to stay but the burden of taking care of one's family is more important. Sad.

Jacob Pool 1 year, 8 months ago

Good Luck BMac we will definitely miss you man but Best of Luck to you in the NBA! I will be watching the draft and the team you end up with next year! You are a fun player to watch!

Richard Heckler 1 year, 8 months ago

Ben reminds me of Paul Pierce in his style of play and accuracy in shooting. Could remain focused and get those good shots off. This man Ben can fly. It has been fun to watch him play.

Seemed to be cool,calm and collected......

friendlyjhawk 1 year, 8 months ago

we'd all run for the money because it would better for us and our families. Doesn't matter whether you are an athelete or a longshoreman. If there is more to be had we want it. "I don't think I want a couple of million dollars" said no person ever.

yourworstnightmare 1 year, 8 months ago

Good luck, Mr. McLemore. There is no other decision that could have been made.

The real shame is that he couldn't have directly entered the NBA from high school like LeBron and Kobe did. The NBA rule of at least one year of college play hurts everyone involved except the NBA.

It delays true talent being monetarily rewarded for their talent; "one and done" hurts college programs and academics; and the NBA gets a free development league funded by college athletics.

riverdrifter 1 year, 8 months ago

Ben did what he had to do. Now Ben, get a good financial counselor and manage your new found wealth wisely so that 50 years from now you're still on easy street.

rgh 1 year, 8 months ago

Best wishes Ben. You will always be welcome in Lawrence and Allen Fieldhouse! Take care of your family and enjoy it while you're young. You'll be able to go back and get your degree if you need/want to later.

kugrandma 1 year, 8 months ago

Good Luck, Ben. We had a blast watching you play for the Jayhawks and we will continue to watch you in the NBA. Bless you and your family.

Brian Conrad 1 year, 8 months ago

I have watched KU players for 5 decades .. you were one of the best !

bballwizard 1 year, 8 months ago

When did we all become NBA scouts. They are drafting Ben on potential and his jump shot. He's definitely not Paul Pierce and it's insulting to compare him to Paul. Paul is a NBA hall of gamer and he's the go to guy in crunch time. Ben is a wallflower.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

"When did we all become NBA scouts."

And then you proceed to pretend that you are one. Precious.

Eddie Brothers 1 year, 8 months ago

Good for you Ben! all the best for You and all your loved ones! You will be sorely missed but always loved and welcome here in lawrence! For all the stupid nayesayers that believe your decision was based on selfish greed throw it down there throats like only You can with a perfect in bounds play: buy you a little retreat home here where you can escape the big lights once inawhile,come back and coach,It's served Scott and Danny well, you might speak with them? And when your shoe comes out can I please, please get a pair;size 9 1/2 with Baby Jays onthe side?! Love You Ben,thanks for everything,remember you will always have ahome and family here. WE are JayHawk Nation!!!

Armen Kurdian 1 year, 8 months ago

I am really surprised that HCBS 'kicked him out the door'...understand I don't mean that in a bad way. Yes, BMac is going to get a huge contract. I really, really, really, do not want to see him secure a lucrative contract and not perform. I really genuinely believe that as good as his stock is now, it could be so much better after another year here. I don't want him to end up like Wright, Selby, or Henry who aren't spoken in the same breath w/guys like Pierce, Durant, Bryant, James, etc. Sure, I'd love to keep him here for selfish reasons, but I'm tired of seeing KU players make the leap to the NBA and not panning out to be superstars when they should be. Sure, he could get hurt and that could end his career. He could get hurt in the NBA too.

I really wish him luck, and really hope I'm wrong. My opinion, BMac should have invested in himself for one more year here. Then no question he would have been the #1 pick overall.

juma 1 year, 8 months ago

I agree with Oletimer. It is past time that college sports stops being the stepping-stone to the pros. College sports should be just that; college kids going to school and playing sports. Sick and tired of the millions$$ spent while the university (that is the part called books and education) has budgets cut and teachers laid-off.

Eddie Brothers 1 year, 8 months ago

Agreed, but don't blame or punish the KID for the system "that is",they are only making the BEST CHOICE under the circumstance!

MISTERTibbs 1 year, 8 months ago

What a completely clueless statement. KU Basketball brings into the university 3 times what it costs to run - check out the Forbes story on the subject. Even football brings in more than it costs. Without these two programs, you wouldn't have the ability to fund the "college sports" for the college kids withut syphoning money from the academic areas of the university.

bangaranggerg 1 year, 8 months ago

I don't want him to stay at KU just so we can get more wins or see more exciting high flying action in the Phog. I just want him to be able to stay so he can be a kid for a little bit more. His life was so hard growing up, he finally could really enjoy himself here in Lawrence, let some worries go. Now it's on to the grind, being on the road constantly and having a bunch of hands reaching out to him, wanting everything and taking everything from him that he'll give. As of yesterday he's a bankable asset and has the ability to spend without limit.

juma 1 year, 8 months ago

the crazy broad from Alaska also did NOT finish her term . She went for the $$$ just like the kid.

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