Kansas guard Ben McLemore (23) rebounds against Kansas State guard Martavious Irving (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lawrence, Kan., Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Jayhawks Gearing Up for NBA Draft
Kansas men’s basketball standouts from the 2012-13 season will look to join elite company on Thursday, June 27, as they wait to hear their names called in the 2013 NBA Draft. The draft will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN3 at 6 p.m. CT, from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Guard Ben McLemore won’t have to wait long as he is a projected top-five pick, while center Jeff Withey is predicted to go in the late first round in many of the latest mock drafts. Guards Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson have also been mentioned in some mock drafts. McLemore is one of 10 players invited to attend the 2013 NBA Draft.
Last season, Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor were the 14th and 15th, respectively, players drafted during the Bill Self era. Robinson’s fifth overall pick was the highest Jayhawk taken since Drew Gooden was selected fourth overall in 2002. Taylor was the 41st selection in the 2012 NBA Draft.
If McLemore and Withey are both selected in the first round, it will be the seventh time Kansas has had multiple NBA first round picks in the same year: 1997 (Scot Pollard and Jacque Vaughn), 1998 (Raef LaFrentz and Paul Pierce), 2003 (Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich), 2008 (Brandon Rush and Darrell Arthur), 2010 (Xavier Henry and Cole Aldrich) and 2011 (Markieff and Marcus Morris).
Since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996-97, KU has had 23 players drafted to the NBA, which is the most of any league member. KU has sent 27 players to the NBA during the past 20 years, which is tied with North Carolina for third-most among all NCAA Division I schools and only trails Kentucky (30) and Duke (29).
What the media are saying about Ben McLemore:
CBSSports.com’s (Matt Norlander): “A kid from a humble background with a big-time work ethic and the right attitude to get him to this point. McLemore was said to be Kansas’ most talented player during his redshirt season of 2011-12. He was a stud for the Jayhawks last year, and his game only got better as the year went on.”
SI.com (Seth Davis): “He’s not very good off the bounce and he’s not great at creating his own shot, but he’s the best shooter in the draft. Lack of killer instinct is certainly a question, but the fact that he’s humble helps him. I think he’ll be a better pro than Nerlens. He’s got growth in his game.”
ESPN.com’s Chad Ford’s: •Super athletic wing; •Explosive leaper; •Elite shooter with deep range; •Super quick release on his jumper; •Very smooth athlete; •Good rebounder for his size; •Has both length and quickness of defensive end
NBA.com: “McLemore is the possible No.1 overall pick in the draft. He’s got rare ability for a shooting guard in that he’s both athletic and a deadly perimeter shooter. When he learns to more consistently take over games and adds more size and strength, McLemore will have an excellent career as a primary scoring option.”
What the media are saying about Jeff Withey:
CBSSports.com: “After his second year at Kansas, when Withey averaged about two points and two rebounds, it was difficult to see him ever becoming a first-round draft pick. He improved at both ends during his junior season and then became a dominant performer as a senior. Defensively, he was one of the best players in the country, and his offensive game made tremendous strides over the course of four seasons in Lawrence. He’s already 23, which could be a negative, but his rate of improvement is impressive.”
SI.com (Seth Davis): “He can be a good shot blocker in the NBA. He can also affect and alter shots around the basket because of his length. He has no upside, but he’s really good at what he does. He shot about 70 percent from the foul line, so if he can make a 12-footer and be a pick-and-pop guy, that will make a huge difference.”
NBA.com: “Most mock drafts list Withey as a late first-round pick. In evaluating a prospect, NBA teams have to decide whether he has a next-level skill. And there’s no question Withey does. He’s a shot-blocker disrupter that can have a nice career, if he does nothing else, providing off-the-bench defensive work in the paint.”