Playing four nights a week against grown men and being counted on for 20 points a game doesn’t rattle Ben McLemore. Not being allowed to play an entire winter? That rattled McLemore. That was his freshman year at Kansas, after he attended two different high schools – Oak Hill Academy in Virginia and Christian Life Center in Texas – as a senior. The NCAA ruled him a partial qualifier, meaning he had to sit out a year from competition and couldn’t even practice until spring semester. It was depressing and disorienting. But rather than transfer McLemore toughed it out. He was so good as a sophomore – averaging 15.9 points per game, and shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3-point range – that the 6-foot-5 shooting guard is now a contender to be the top pick in June’s NBA draft. He doesn’t begrudge the NCAA for ruling the way it did. In the long run, the NCAA did him a favor. “That redshirt year became a blessing. I was either in the gym, working with the coaches, or studying,” McLemore said Friday at the Draft Combine. “The next year I was ready to show what I could do.” McLemore came from poverty growing up in St. Louis. He lived in a 600-square-foot house with as many as 10 relatives. His older brother is in prison for a break-in and a shooting. McLemore has promised to move his younger brother, a high school senior, wherever the NBA sends him, to ensure the kid has a better life. Throughout a chaotic childhood he questioned if he would ever get a chance to express his basketball talent. During high school, he could be particularly quiet, seemingly unassertive. Not anymore.
Kansas guard McLemore now just waiting for his name to be called
Charlotte Observer | May 18