Ben McLemore's 36-Point Explosion Solidifies Status as Top Prospect in NBA Draft

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIMarch 2, 2013

LAWRENCE, KS - MARCH 02:  Ben McLemore #23 of the Kansas Jayhawks shoots a free throw during the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Allen Fieldhouse on March 2, 2013 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

With his 36-point, seven-rebound, four-assist performance against West Virginia on Saturday, the Kansas Jayhawks Ben McLemore served notice that he is potentially the best prospect in the 2013 NBA Draft.

He shot 12-of-15 from the field, and that included draining 5-of-6 from beyond the arc.

The Mountaineers aren't exactly a national powerhouse at 13-16. But this late in the season, and playing against a top-10 squad like Kansas, Bob Huggins' team gave its best effort.

McLemore's scoring outburst keyed the 26-point romp, and he further displayed the skills that have many draft prognosticators projecting him as the No. 1 overall pick.

If anyone doubts whether McLemore can get it done against good teams, look no further than his 22-point game against a tough Ohio State team in December, and the 30 points he hung on Kansas State on Feb. 11 (which happens to be his birthday).

The best thing about McLemore's game on Saturday was that it ended a bit of a cold spell for him.

He was averaging just more than nine points per game in his last three outings. Some doubts were beginning to creep in about his ability to perform late in the season. But this game served to get him back on track.

McLemore does depend on his jump shot a lot, and when that is a player's style, he's going to have off shooting nights. When great players aren't making the outside shot, they take it to the rim to at least get themselves to the line.

He earned nine free-throw attempts on Saturday, and for a scorer, that's an excellent number.

McLemore still needs to develop more consistency in this aspect of his game. But what we have to realize about the Kansas freshman is that he just turned 21. He's not the finished product yet.

But even at this early stage of his career, he's already very good, and this game was an example of how dominant he can be.

He has re-established some momentum for himself, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

The Jayhawks are headed into the postseason, and they will need McLemore to be special if they plan on having a shot at a national championship.


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