Ben McLemore
Shooting Guard (Rank: #5) | 6-5, 189 | Age: 21
Kansas (St. Louis, MO)
Draft Board: Round 1 | Round 2
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Draft Projection: No. 4: Charlotte Bobcats

Notes: Insider Only

Positives: Insider Only

Negatives: Insider Only

Summary: June 26 Update: McLemore is all about upside. Blessed with elite athletic abilities and a breathtaking jump shot, McLemore might have the highest ceiling of any player in the draft. If he can gain confidence and maturity, play hard on every possession and improve his handle and feel, he could be an All-Star someday.

Quick fact: McLemore averaged 1.25 points per play on 43.3 percent shooting off catch-and-shoot situations, which ranked among the top quarter of players in the nation with at least 150 plays.

June 25 Update: I'm struggling with where to place McLemore. He has had inconsistent workouts in Cleveland, Orlando and Phoenix. Everyone loves the talent, but teams are clearly wary, and the workouts have given them pause. I know the Suns would prefer Oladipo, and sources say there's strong support in the front office for Cody Zeller and Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams, as well. We're keeping McLemore here at No. 5, but I wouldn't be shocked if he ends up going a few spots lower in Mock 7.0 on Thursday.

June 24 Update: McLemore, like Oladipo, is seen as a sure thing by most GMs. He didn't garner as many high scores as Noel in our Secret NBA Draft Big Board, but he also didn't have anyone rank him as a potential bust. While teams have been recently concerned about his agent issues, his combination of athletic ability and shooting touch seem to have made them confident that he's a can't-miss prospect. Despite his high ranking here, McLemore's off-court situation could push him down slightly in the draft. That's why he is currently projected in the 2 to 7 range.

June 18 Update: McLemore remains in the top 5, but I'm starting to have my doubts. I love the talent. But his lack of preparation for the draft is hurting him. Multiple sources told me that his workout in Phoenix was not impressive; he wasn't in shape, and he struggled to keep up in the workout. I heard similar things in Orlando. McLemore is in a tug-of-war right now between adviser Rodney Blackstock and his agency Rivals. It's kept McLemore out of the gym and for the most part, out of workouts. How much will all of this affect the draft stock? I'm told teams are worried. But how worried? Enough for one of the most talented players in the draft to slide further? If the Suns pass on McLemore, both C.J. McCollum and Michael Carter-Williams are possibilities here.

June 10 Update: Teams love McLemore's talent. His jump shot and elite athletic ability scream potential All-Star. But teams continue to wring their hands over whether McLemore has the drive to become a star. He was in Phoenix last week, but refused to work out against Oladipo and Muhammad. That's not an unusual ploy for a player ranked at the top, but given the parity at the top of the draft, it wasn't well received by the Suns, nor will it be from the other teams up high in the draft. "He needs to compete," one GM at the top of the draft said, "or it's only going to reinforce our biggest fears about him. There is no consensus in this draft. He's got to come and earn it." With that said, virtually every team at the top of the draft is still considering McLemore. The Magic, Bobcats and Suns look like the most plausible destinations.

May 28 Update: May 20 Update: McLemore has aims for the No. 1 spot. "Just coming from nowhere, coming from nothing, just being able to have the opportunity get a No. 1 spot is just a blessing," McLemore told reporters on Thursday. "I'm going to work for it the same way as [Noel]. He's going to work for it, and I'm going to work for it. It definitely is neck-and-neck."

But do NBA GMs feel the same way?

McLemore got a positive response from GMs for his athletic ability (he ended with a 42-inch maximum vertical) and for the candid interviews he gave NBA teams.

"You could tell that an agent hadn't got to him yet and hadn't coached him on what to say," one GM told ESPN.com. "I was really wowed by how candid and open he was. I felt like we got to see is heart a little bit. He's a wonderful young man. He's naïve and he really needs someone with some experience guiding him, but he was one of my two or three favorite interviews."

Interviews matter. In fact, in some cases they matter more than any on-the-court stuff players do at the combine. But I'm not sure that they'd put McLemore ahead of Noel right now. If McLemore had a stronger motor on the court, he'd be a no-brainer for the No. 1 pick, but his "niceness" actually might work against him.

"You want a player who's going to be great with teammates off-the-court and a role model in the community," one NBA scout said. "But on the court, I want an [expletive]. Ben has zero [expletive] in him. I'm not sure how he'll fare as a rookie if he isn't going to demand the ball and try to prove to his peers he can play with them. But the upside is really there if he gets that he's an elite player."

May 15 Update: McLemore is unlikely to participate in the drills at the combine, though if he did he would have very little to lose. With a terrific jump shot and elite athletic abilities, he would look really good in the combine setting. However, interviews will be key for him. Many teams will bring sports psychologists with them, and they'll all be trying to see whether McLemore was just deferring to older teammates during his freshman season with Kansas, or whether he really is a passive player. It could be key to where he goes in the draft.

May 8 Update (Projected No. 2, Bobcats): The Bobcats need everything. With the possible exception of 2012's No. 2 pick, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the team requires upgrades everywhere. McLemore makes a lot of sense here. The Bobcats ranked 27th in the league in 3-point shooting percentage last season, and McLemore has a beautiful stroke. Anthony Bennett and Alex Len are other possibilities, though their recent injuries cast doubt on whether teams would take them this high.

May 2 Update: McLemore's odds of going No. 1 increased when Marcus Smart decided to return to school. We now project McLemore as the No. 1 pick for five teams -- the Pistons, Pelicans, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers and Jazz. Overall, that's a 15.2 percent chance of going No. 1. A few teams, such as the Bobcats and Suns, could potentially swing to McLemore if he has great workouts.

Apr 9 Update: McLemore announced that he's declaring for the 2013 NBA Draft. McLemore is the purest jump shooter in the country. He's a likely top-three pick, and in some scenarios in our Lottery Mock Draft, we having him going No. 1 overall. McLemore is also an elite athlete and has the potential to be a great defender. What he lacks is confidence. At times he can disappear or overly defer to other players. For teams wanting a go-to scorer and an alpha dog, he might not be the right choice. But if he overcomes that, he could be an NBA All-Star someday.

Apr 2 Update: McLemore bounced back from a horrific 4-for-21 in his last three games to catch fire in Kansas' loss to Michigan on Friday. For an 18-minute stretch, he looked every bit the No. 1 pick in the draft, scoring 20 points and hitting four 3-pointers.

Unfortunately, McLemore picked up a fourth foul with 10 minutes left, went to the bench for an extended period of time, and when he did return, took just one shot the rest of the game. Whether McLemore's problem is confidence or whether he just feels the need to defer to the seniors on the team, his up-and-down play worries GMs a little bit. He still has a shot to go No. 1 if a team like the Charlotte Bobcats wins the lottery, but his play over the past few weeks might have stalled his quest to be the first player off the board on draft night.

Mar 25 Update: McLemore has gone from hit or miss, to just miss in both the championship game of the Big 12 Tournament and the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. McLemore is just 4-for-21 in his last three games and is just 1-for-12 from 3-point range. To make matters worse, he's gotten even more passive of late. He's shot a total of just 10 free throws in those three games, eight of them in a tight opening round match-up against Western Kentucky. McLemore was struggling so badly that head coach Bill Self kept him on the bench for the last 13 minutes of a tight game against North Carolina on Sunday. McLemore ended the game with just two points and went 0-for-9 from the field. The only saving grace right now is that Kansas is winning and McLemore still has time to redeem himself. Then again, if Kansas doesn't need him to win, I'm not sure how reassuring that's going to be to a team like the Charlotte Bobcats who desperately need a scorer with a jump shot to help turn their team around.

Mar 13 Update: McLemore continues to be a bit hit or miss, but when he's on ? wow. His 36-point game against West Virginia last week was a model of efficiency. He shot 12-for-15 from the field, 5-for-6 from 3. And despite a blowout loss to Baylor, McLemore at least took 16 shots in that game and ended the game with 23 points. The biggest issue for McLemore is his inability to really go out and get his own shot. But if he ever figures that out, those Ray Allen comps don't seem too bad.

Feb 27 Update: McLemore is coming off a rough two-week stretch. The good news is that Kansas was 4-0 in games in which McLemore really struggled to assert himself offensively. McLemore's most glaring problems were against Oklahoma State (just seven points on 3-for-12 shooting in 49 minutes), when early shooting woes got him off track early, and a lethargic performance against Iowa State on the road (seven points on 2-for-6 shooting) in which McLemore completely disappeared for the last 10 minutes and overtime. These aren't the types of performance that scream "lottery pick," let alone "No. 1 pick."

As gifted as McLemore is as an athlete and shooter, his weaknesses (lack of aggressiveness and an inability to create his own shot off the dribble) are being amplified right now by aggressive Big 12 defenses. With Victor Oladipo coming on strong and NBA GMs adjusting to the Nerlens Noel injury news, there are plenty of other contenders to finish the season as the No. 1 prospect on our board.

Jan 30 Update: McLemore continues his meteoric rise up our Big Board and, if he can keep it up all season, might be the one guy who could end up being a consensus No. 1 pick by June. His numbers the past few games haven't been particularly dynamic, but he's doing the little things it takes to move Kansas all the way up to No. 2 in the rankings. A number of general managers now have him atop their draft boards, and I think that number could continue to grow as the season progresses. Adding "winner" to his final NBA résumé could be what pushes him over the top, especially when you consider that Noel, Shabazz Muhammad and Alex Len all play for teams that have been up and down this season.

Jan 16 Update: No one has risen faster or higher on this board than McLemore. A signature performance last week against Iowa State during which he dropped 33 points, went 6-for-6 from 3 and hit a game-winning bank shot to force overtime announced his arrival as a legitimate candidate to be the No. 1 pick in the draft. While he currently sits at No. 3 on our Board, he keeps making a stronger and stronger argument each week that he's the best pro prospect in college basketball.

Dec 24th Update: The freshman is dripping with NBA lottery pick potential, but of late he's proving to Jayhawks fans that he's ready to go right now. He's averaging 19.5 points per game in his past five games and he's shooting a lights out 14-for-24 from 3-point range. He rebounds, defends multiple positions and on Saturday, he led the Jayhawks to a huge road win against Ohio State. He's playing as well as any player in the country right now on a top-10 team. Scouts are starting to compare him to a young Ray Allen. We've moved him into the top five on our Big Board, and if I was putting together a college team to win right now, he'd still be in my top five.

Dec 17 Update: There are lot of players who could fit the bill here, but no one has more momentum right now than McLemore. His confidence seems to be growing game by game, and given the immense amount of talent he possesses, it seems like he's one huge Big 12 run away from becoming a top-five pick. Scouts worry a bit that he can be a wallflower, a la Brandon Rush, but given how he's played lately, I'm not sure that knock is going to stick much longer.

Dec 10 Update: McLemore is a redshirt freshman who sat out last season because of the NCAA's initial eligibility standards. McLemore met the standards, but the NCAA came back to say it didn't like something on his transcript and dinged him for the season. In his first season of competition after a forced year off, McLemore has shown great promise. He is still only 19 years old and he still plays young.

After only eight games, McLemore is averaging 16 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 steals. Plus, he is shooting 46 percent from the field and 86 percent from the free throw line. Despite the solid numbers, McLemore has not yet learned how to play -- or how to assert himself consistently throughout the course of a game. He is a smart player with a great demeanor who has a feel for the game, but he doesn't completely "get it" yet. That is to be expected in such a young player, but it is also a bit scary. When McLemore does get it, he will be a truly great player.

McLemore is very athletic and simply glides up and down the floor. He can take off with ease and rise, leaving your jaw on the floor with his effortless and graceful athleticism. As he matures, he will get stronger, look to drive the ball more and counter his outstanding shooting stroke. His efficiency will continue to go up, and he will be a much better player.

Nov 15 Update: McLemore is a bit of a Brandon Rush clone: long, excellent defender; good rebounder; can really shoot the rock. Often plays like he doesn't have confidence. Scouts love the talent, but he's got to show he's willing to do it night in and night out. His first two outings for the Jayhawks are inspiring hope. He has all the tools to be an excellent NBA player.

Oct 18 Update: McLemore sat out his freshman year at Kansas due to eligibility issues. He practiced with the team all year, however, and drew praise from coaches and observers who watched him play.

Kansas coach Bill Self has been raving about McLemore over the summer, comparing him to a young Brandon Rush. McLemore has many of the same positives -- he's long and athletic, and he can shoot the rock and defend multiple positions. He also has a similar negative -- he can be way too unselfish.

The Jayhawks are going to need McLemore to step in right away and produce. If he can lead this team to yet another Big 12 title, he could easily be a lottery pick in June.

Sept 7 Update: Coach Bill Self has been comparing McLemore to a young Brandon Rush -- long, athletic and an excellent shooter and defender. Unfortunately, he also appears to have Rush's chronic lack of assertiveness. If McLemore can play aggressive, he's got lottery talent.

 

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