Ben McLemore declares for the NBA Draft

Ben McLemore, a second team All-American and red-shirt freshman, officially announced his intentions to declare for the NBA Draft on Tuesday afternoon.

“I want to thank my teammates a lot for supporting me and always pushing me each and every day at practice,” McLemore said. “I love those guys. It was great playing with those guys. I want to thank my family and the coaching staff, too, but most of all I want to thank the KU fans. Without the KU fans, Kansas wouldn’t be like this. The KU fans are great and I’d like to thank them a lot for cheering me on and cheering this whole program on. I love that about Kansas. That’s the reason I came here.”

McLemore is projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft by NBADraft.net and the No. 2 pick in the DraftExpress.com mock draft. McLemore finished the 2013 with season averaging 15.9 points per game, with 5.2 rebounds per game and two assists per game.

“Ben has a chance to live out his dream,” Self said. “To be quite candid, if he was eligible last year, I thought the most we could have gotten out of him there was two years.”

“Ben’s the most talented kid I’ve ever worked with,” Self continued. “He might be the nicest kid I’ve ever worked with.”

The leading scorer for Kansas, McLemore broke the Kansas freshman scoring record (previously held by Danny Manning with 14.6 points per game in 1985). He also holds the KU freshman records for free throw shooting (87 percent) and points scored (589). During the 2012-13 season, McLemore was a three-time Big 12 Rookie of the Week and one-time Big 12 player of the week this season and had 10 games of 20 points or more, including three 30-point efforts. His 36-point effort against West Virginia (March 2nd) broke the Kansas freshman single-game scoring record.

McLemore is the third Kansas player under Bill Self to have declared for the draft after their freshman season (Xavier Henry and Josh Selby).

McLemore was a five-star recruit out of St. Louis and was ranked No. 17 nationally by Rivals.com and the No. 4 shooting guard.

McLemore’s 2013 accolades

  • Associated Press All-America Second Team
  • John R. Wooden Award All-American
  • NABC All-America Second Team
  • Lute Olson All-America Team
  • USBWA All-America Second Team
  • USBWA Freshman All-America
  • Third Team All-America by Sporting News
  • All-Big 12 First Team (Big 12, AP)
  • Big 12 All-Rookie Team
  • Wooden Award Final Ballot
  • Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week (3/4)
  • USBWA Oscar Robertson Player of the Year Finalist (1 of 14)
  • USBWA Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Finalist (1 of 8)
  • Naismith Award Top 30 Candidate
  • Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week (1/21)
  • Sporting News Mid-Season All-American
  • Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week (1/14)
  • Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week (12/24)
  • CBE Hall of Fame Classic All-Tournament Team

With Ben McLemore’s departure, Bill Self will have to replace his entire starting five for the 2013-2014 season. Kansas is projected to start Naadir Tharpe, Wayne Selden, Andrew White III, Jamari Traylor and Perry Ellis. Overall, Kansas is losing six players off the roster (Kevin Young, Elijah Johnson, Jeff Withey and Travis Releford are all seniors, Ben McLemore to the draft and Anrio Adams is transferring). Bill Self will need another one of his miraculous coaching jobs if he wants to win ten straight Big 12 titles and a shot at making the Final Four for the second time in three seasons.

Click here for a complete transcript of his press conference.

KCTV5