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Add Ben McLemore to the growing list of players declaring for the NBA Draft today.
The Kansas redshirt freshman will forgo his final three seasons of eligibility and enter the draft, making the announcement at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
The St. Louis native made a huge impact during his one season in Lawrence, averaging 15.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while shooting 87-percent from the free throw line and picking up first team All-Big 12 Conference honors along the way.
“I want to thank my teammates a lot for supporting me and always pushing me each and every day at practice,” McLemore said in the press conference. “I love those guys. It was great playing with those guys. I want to thank my family and the coaching staff, too, but most of all I want to thank the KU fans. Without the KU fans, Kansas wouldn’t be like this. The KU fans are great and I’d like to thank them a lot for cheering me on and cheering this whole program on. I love that about Kansas. That’s the reason I came here.”
His scoring average broke Danny Manning’s school freshman record that’s stood since 1985. McLemore was also tabbed to the Associated Press, Wooden, NABC, Lute Olson and USWBA all-american teams, according to the release.
Tough to argue with his decision, especially if you’ve read Eric Prisbell’s great story on the struggle of McLemore’s family, living in poverty and having one of his brothers in prison. He’s projected as a first-rounder by many mock draft sites, and that guaranteed three-year contract will go a long way to helping out his family.
Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.
For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.
On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.
Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.
Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.
In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.
As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.
(More to come from Chapel Hill…)
North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.
(H/T: The Cauldron)