If you haven't seen Ben McLemore yet, you're truly missing out.
McLemore Getting Ready for the Jayhawk
Ben McLemore is legit.
The 6-foot-5 junior from St. Louis (MO) Wellston-Eskridge High School popped up on the radar of college coaches after an outstanding 2009-2010 season that saw him average 28 points, 13 rebounds and six assists per game.
Part of what had kept McLemore hidden for so long was his position. First-year coach Jeffrey McCaw, one of McLemore's mentors, saw in him not an undersized forward, but a wing with off-the-charts athleticism and skill. The talented prospect responded quickly to the change, and as word of his ability spread the number of college coaches parading through the WEHS gym began to increase.
This summer, McLemore is playing his AAU ball with the St. Louis Eagles – long the subject of much attention due to their star player, fellow 2011 prospect Bradley Beal.
McLemore debuted with the Eagles almost three weeks ago at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League event in Hampton, Va., and flourished on the big stage.
Here's what Scout.com National Recruiting Director Dave Telep had to say about his performance:
"Since our friend Eric Bossi first wrote about McLemore, there's been a buzz. On Saturday, we saw first hand what the fuss was about. McLemore's laced with athletic ability and potential. At 6-foot-5, he's got an easy way about him. McLemore has a smooth demeanor, sound perimeter game and plenty of athletic ability. He lived up to the advanced billing."
For his part, McLemore is enjoying the opportunity to challenge himself against top-tier competition with a group of ultra-talented teammates.
"I've never played with anybody like that," he said, of Beal. "Two of the top players in Missouri playing with each other, it feels good. I've never experienced that before."
Next up for McLemore and the Eagles? The Jayhawk Invitational in Lawrence, Kan., which will feature a host of the top recruits in the country.
But first thing's first. While his teammates will take on the NE Players – and 2011 prospects Alex Murphy and Kaleb Tarczewski – in a marquee matchup Friday night, McLemore will be tending to more important matters.
Namely, his high school prom. The last high school prom ever at WEHS as a matter of fact.
"Our school is closing," McLemore said. "It's the last prom, so it's the last time I'll get to do anything with this school."
With his high school closing its doors for good, it looks very likely that the Kansas target will play his final season of high school ball at the famed Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va. Under the tutelage of Head Coach Steve Smith, he hopes to prepare himself academically and athletically for the rigors of college life.
McLemore said he was humbled by the opportunity.
"A kid like me would never think Oak Hill would call you and say 'Hey, do you want to come play for us and come to our school?'" he said. "I thought it was a good thing and a good choice for me."
In the immediate future, however, he's hoping to make the most of another opportunity to show what he can do at the Jayhawk Invitational – hopefully in front of some sizable crowds.
"It's all I'm waiting on, to see all the fans and the people out," he said.
McLemore currently names a top five of Kansas, Missouri, Louisville, Kentucky and Ohio State. All but Louisville and Kentucky have offered scholarships.
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