Kansas Star Ben McLemore Declares Himself Best Player in 2013 NBA Draft

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - MARCH 29:  Ben McLemore #23 of the Kansas Jayhawks drives against the Michigan Wolverines during the South Regional Semifinal round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on March 29, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Nerlens Noel will have something to say about this.

Speaking with Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com at the NBA's pre-draft combine, Kansas' Ben McLemore declared himself the best player in his class.

"Deep down I think I am,” he said. “I have that mindset that I am. Just going out there and showing my abilities."

McLemore is projected to duke it out with Noel for the top pick in the 2013 draft. Though Noel is widely considered the most coveted prospect, it hasn't become clear whether his ACL injury will impact his draft stock. Based on need, McLemore could find his name being announced before Noel's.

If he doesn't go first, however, he'll likely go second. There seems to be a significant gap in terms of NBA-readiness between him and fellow prospects such as Otto Porter, Anthony Bennett (also injured) and Trey Burke. To see him slide beyond the No. 2 spot would then be a surprise.

But is McLemore really the best player in the draft?

Being selected with the first or second overall pick doesn't necessarily guarantee anything.

The timeliness of selections is a barometer for the player's potential, not the end-all of stylistic assessments. Otherwise, history wouldn't be burdened with a plethora of busts. Just ask Darko Milicic, Michael Olowokandi or Kwame Brown.

And so, McLemore's quest to be considered the best player in the draft doesn't end with his selection; it begins. Whether he's taken first, second or somehow slides further down the board (unlikely), his assertion cannot be confirmed or disproved until we see how the onset of his career plays out.

Given his size, athleticism and shooting prowess, McLemore has the gifts necessary to emerge as a premier talent at the next level.

Does he have enough of the tools to supersede the rest of his classmates upon entering the NBA, Noel included? 

Despite what he says, we just don't know, and his draft position will only tell part of the story.

People know what I did in college and know what I can do throughout my career. A lot of people know I really haven’t reached that point in my basketball life, so I know deep down inside that I have it in me. I’ve just got to keep working.

Once we see how far that work ethic carries him, then we'll know—one way, or the other.