Ben McLemore, Jayhawks prepare for NBA Draft

FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2012 file photo, Kansas guard Ben McLemore (23) dunks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Richmond in Lawrence, Kan. McLemore is a possible first round pick in the NBA Draft that begins June 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2012 file photo, Kansas guard Ben McLemore (23) dunks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Richmond in Lawrence, Kan. McLemore is a possible first round pick in the NBA Draft that begins June 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

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It’s a matter of when, not if, for the highest scoring freshman in the history of KU Hoops. The Jayhawks will send a player in the first round for the fourth straight year and sixth out of the last seven. Ben McLemore has the type of jumpshot and unrivaled athleticism that has NBA Scouts league-wide drooling.

Standing at 6’4″ with a 42 inch vertical and knock down shooting out to 26 or 27 feet he’s the prototypical NBA shooting guard. His stock rose steadily since the beginning of last college basketball season until landing somewhere in the Top 5 in almost every mock draft.

For his teammates, it’s a little more unclear. Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jeff Withey projects as an NBA center, but his offensive game is a question mark. Coach Bill Self never ran much offense through the seven footer but he showed the ability to be a dominating presence on the defensive end of the floor, and is a more than capable finisher on the offensive end. Plus, you can’t teach tall. Mock drafts have Withey going as high the low 20s of the first round to anywhere within the first ten picks of the second round.

Elijah Johnson and Rodney McGruder might find themselves on the outside looking in after the 60 NBA draft picks all play out. KU’s Johnson was hindered by a senior season in which he spent trying to adjust to point guard, where he average three turnovers a game, and a knee injury that reduced his explosiveness. He did tell reporters that a lot of teams were surprised at his athleticism in workouts. If that’s the case he has a chance to sneak in the draft, but trying out for teams as a free agent is a more likely outcome.

K-State’s Rodney McGruder might be looking at a similar fate. McGruder has good size for a shooting guard at 6 ’4 and 205 but scouts say he lacks NBA quickness. Plus, his outside shooting numbers dropped off all four years. McGruder like Johnson are likely looking at making NBA teams as free agents. If McGruder is drafted he’ll be the first Wildcat since 2008 when Michael Beasley and Bill Walker were both selected.

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