Does Kansas freshman Ben McLemore have a one up on Jayhawk hoops legends Wilt Chamberlain, Clyde Lovellette, Danny Manning, Kirk Hinrich and Bud Stallworth?
It is unlikely McLemore will sniff the all-time KU records posted by those five and dozens of other productive players, but due to an unrivaled all-around game, he is the best NBA prospect in the program's 115-year history.
With 33 McDonald's All-Americans signing with Kansas, 28 First Team All-American selections, and 27 first-round NBA draft picks, it takes some serious talent to set yourself apart in the Phog.
As the most versatile offensive player to ever play in Lawrence, McLemore possesses the following skills that have opposing coaches searching for answers: incredible body control, transition penetration, a high-release perimeter shot, excellent court vision and a near-perfect ability to improve on anticipation.
While he has other NBA level skills, these five help him stuff the stat sheet each night, as he currently averages 14.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 2.4 APG in over 30 minutes played per game.
His current three-point shooting clip of 31.0 percent could be vastly improved, but a poor 5-for-16 shooting night last week vs. San Jose State—one that included 0-for-7 from beyond the arc—lowered that three-point number over 10 percent. That high release, combined with a seemingly easy ability to sneak out along the baseline provides a recipe for improvement.
Even with a less than satisfactory perimeter shot, he can penetrate the lane in transition as well as anyone in the county. His smooth takeoff to the rim routinely puts defenders in poor position, either resulting in a nifty lay in, an easy bucket for a trailing teammate or a trip to the charity stripe, where he is hitting 84 percent of his free throws.
Currently projected as a high lottery pick in the 2013 NBA draft by most scouting services, he might not only be the best NBA prospect in Kansas history but also one of the biggest draft steals in the last decade.
Kansas greats Wilt Chamberlain and Danny Manning are arguably their two most coveted NBA prospects ever, with Chamberlain selected as a high territorial pick in 1959 and Danny Manning as the No. 1 overall pick in 1988.
Chamberlain easily overtook opposing teams with his size, strength and deceptive quickness en route to routine 30-point and 30-rebound games. He remains one of the most dominating college basketball players of all time.
Similarly, Manning used his 6'10" frame to own the glass and abuse defenders with one of the greatest low-post games in college history. His draft stock continued to skyrocket during the 1987-88 season, one in which he led the "Danny and the Miracles" title-winning team and grabbed National Player of the Year awards.
Chamberlain, Manning, Lovellette, Hinrich and Stallworth were each elite NBA prospects with dynamic, game-changing repertoires, but Ben McLemore might become the best of the best in Kansas history with strong body control and lightning-quick lane penetration.
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