Jayhawks' Ben McLemore declares for NBA draft
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Kansas guard Ben McLemore announced Tuesday that he will enter the NBA draft after arguably the most successful freshman season in the school's proud basketball history.
The 6-foot-6 star from St. Louis broke Danny Manning's freshman scoring record by averaging nearly 16 points, and helped Kansas win a share of its ninth straight Big 12 title. McLemore, a second-team All-American, announced his intentions while accompanied by Jayhawks coach Bill Self during a news conference at Allen Fieldhouse.
Expected to be a lottery pick in June's draft, McLemore is the third Kansas freshman coached by Self to leave school early. Xavier Henry was picked 12th overall by Memphis in 2010, and Josh Selby was a late second-round selection of the Grizzlies the following year.
McLemore was forced to redshirt last season when he was declared a partial qualifier by the NCAA, but he made the most of his only season in Lawrence. With a dizzying array of dunks, a silky smooth outside shot and a boyish grin, he quickly became one of the school's top players. He even graced a regional cover for Sports Illustrated before the NCAA tournament.
McLemore helped the Jayhawks advance to the regional semifinals, where they blew a late lead and lost to eventual national runner-up Michigan. He scored 20 points in that game, and proved to have another trait that should come in handy in the NBA: A short memory.
He was 0 for 9 from the field in his previous game, a win over North Carolina.
McLemore shot 42 percent from the arc this season, exhibited a deft handle with the ball and came through on some mighty big stages: He hit the buzzer-beating 3-pointer to force overtime in a win over Iowa State, poured in 30 points in a win over rival Kansas State and had a career-high 36 points against West Virginia late in the season.
McLemore's departure, which had been expected, means the Jayhawks will have to replace all five starters from a team that finished 31-6 this season. Jeff Withey, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Kevin Young were all seniors.
Self has already started to restock with one of the nation's top recruiting classes, headlined by top-50 guards Conner Frankamp and Wayne Selden. Two other top-50 players, forward Brannen Greene and center Joel Embiid, have also signed along with point guard Frank Mason.
Self still has three scholarships available after McLemore's departure and the decision this past week by freshman guard Anrio Adams to transfer closer to his home in Seattle.
The Jayhawks are still in the running for Andrew Wiggins, a 6-7 forward who many experts consider the top high school player in the country. Wiggins is being pursued by Kentucky, Florida State and North Carolina, and is expected to announce his intentions in the next few weeks.
Wiggins' brother, Nick Wiggins, just finished his junior season with Wichita State.
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