Opinion: Goodbye, Ben McLemore; hello, Andrew Wiggins?

March 4, 2013


Ben McLemore plays his 17th and final game in Allen Fieldhouse tonight, a freshman on Senior Night and the best player in the building, with the possible exception of his potential replacement, visiting recruit Andrew Wiggins.

Too in demand to play more than one season of college basketball, McLemore certainly has made the most of it and plays as if he relishes every Allen Fieldhouse moment.

You get out of something what you put into it, and to get an idea of how deeply invested McLemore has been in his one season as a college basketball player, consider what he will take from it.

For starters, he has made friends for life in his teammates. He has become more comfortable speaking in public, his game has improved to the extent he ranks No. 1 on many NBA Draft projections, and he has a legitimate shot to help his team win a national championship.

Plus, he’ll have no shortage of fieldhouse memories keeping him company forever. McLemore scored 33 points in the Iowa State game he sent into overtime by banking in a three-pointer. He torched Kansas State for 30 points in a blowout of Big 12 co-leaders, and he broke Danny Manning’s freshman school record with 36 points Saturday against West Virginia.

That’s 99 points in three games in which he attempted just a combined 40 field goals, making 31. He hit 17 of 23 threes and 20 of 22 free throws.

In 16 games in Allen Fieldhouse, McLemore has averaged 19.3 points, shot 53 percent overall and 49 percent from three-point range.

In nine true road games, McLemore has averaged 12.9 points and shot 44 percent overall and 28 percent from three, despite a strong game in the first one, at Ohio State.

But his road blues don’t qualify as cause for panic. Kansas has played four games on courts that were neither team’s regular home, three at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, one in Atlanta, against Michigan State. In those games, McLemore has averaged 14.3 points, shot 52 percent both overall and from three-point range. KU’s first two NCAA Tournament games likely will be played in the Sprint Center.

Besides, far more than the site of Saturday’s game influenced McLemore’s scoring outburst.

“He did a good job reading screens today, but we also did a good job screening for him,” KU coach Bill Self said.

“... We ran some stuff to make sure to give Ben the first opportunity to get some looks. We need to probably do more of that. We’ve done it, but he’s starting to understand more how to free himself.”

It’s quite possible the No. 1 overall picks in the next two NBA drafts will be in attendance tonight. If Wiggins likes what he sees and decides to come to Kansas, that would give the Jayhawks, who haven’t had the No. 1 overall selection since Manning in 1988, two in a row. Wiggins, a 6-foot-7, 200-pound wing, tops all the 2014 NBA Draft projections.


DRsmith 5 years ago

Wiggins to KU is not happening. Randle is more realistic.

DRsmith 5 years ago

Obviously Lebron James, Carmello Anthony and scores of others would disagree with you. He will get paid more on his first contract than most will make in a lifetime. As long as he doesn't blow it, he will be just fine.

jonas_opines 5 years ago

"so money is the most important thing today?"


"says a lot about the world we live in, right?"


"If this is the case, why even have them play the charade of college?"

Because the NBA demands it, and the NBA has the money.

"send them straight from high school. cut out the middle man and quit screwing around with college teams with the idiotic one and done."

It would be nice.

Patrick Rooney 5 years ago

Accept in his quest to provide for a struggling family...not everone is after the dollar in the way that your putting it!

truejayallday 5 years ago

While i agree he is not ready to step im and be a star, his ceiling is very high Plus he has to take the money. The guys family is broke.

Patrick Rooney 5 years ago

True, but going lotto will do enough in one year than he faces in todays economy. Not to mention the struggles college grads are having finding employment. I agree that education is the most important to be able to provide one day, but a million dollars garenteed..... his family wont be struggling no more!

truejayallday 5 years ago

But who knows? I could be basing that off of ku other one n dones.

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