Sports

Rising Stars: Kansas Freshman Ben McLemore

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(Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images Sport)

(Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images Sport)

By: Mark Chalifoux

Ben McLemore may not get the attention that other Player of the Year candidates get, but the Kansas freshman has been drawing plenty of attention from the people that matter most: NBA scouts.

The 6-foot 5-inch freshman shooting guard will be a lottery pick in the next NBA draft and is currently projected as the top overall pick by many prognosticators. Scouts love his size and Jayhawks fans love his scoring ability.

McLemore has been pouring it in to the tune of 16.7 points per game this season for ninth-ranked Kansas. The lone freshman in a starting lineup full of seniors, McLemore has shown a deft shooting touch to go with his tremendous athleticism. He is knocking down threes at a 43 percent clip and is shooting over 50 percent overall for the season (and that’s while averaging 11 shots per game).

McLemore has scored in double digits in all but two games this season (including every Big 12 game) and has stepped up in the spotlight. In a showdown with then top-10 Kansas State on Feb. 11, McLemore poured in 30 points (including going six-for-10 behind the arc). In the next game, a win over Texas, he had a “quiet” 13 points that happened to include one of the best dunks this season, a thunderous 360-degree throw-down.

The Jayhawks have had their stumbles this year but Kansas looks to be back on track and should have no problem making the second weekend of the tournament. Jayhawks fans should enjoy whatever March Madness success they get with McLemore, as he’ll likely be in the NBA next season.

In addition to his size, athleticism and shooting, scouts love his attitude, passing ability and his potential. McLemore seems poised for a tremendous basketball career and Big 12 fans are probably hoping that the rest of it unfolds at the professional level.

Mark Chalifoux is a college basketball contributor for CBS Local Digital Media and can be reached at mark.chalifoux@gmail.com and @markchalifoux on Twitter.

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