Ben McLemore Blowing Up In St. Louis

Fighting Illini basketball coaches continue to expand their recruiting reach in search of top prospects. Already established in the St. Louis area, they have begun to express interest in Ben McLemore. The wing prospect is burning up the high school ranks. If he can get his grades in order, he will be a top wing recruit for 2011. He visited the Illini for a game recently.

Ben McLemore is averaging 28.5 points a game for tiny Eskridge High School in Wellston, Missouri. His offensive outbursts have attracted top schools throughout the Midwest.

"I'm hearing from a lot of schools," McLemore relates. "Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas. My favorite is Kansas right now. They're at the top of the group. My top five are Kansas, Louisville, Kentucky, Purdue and Missouri. Mizzou gave me an offer last week."

Many schools hadn't heard much about him until recently. He has flown under the radar for a couple reasons.

"It's a small school, and the AAU program I play for doesn't get a lot of attention. That's why this summer I'm playing with the (St. Louis) Eagles, so that will pretty much help me get discovered. I'll be playing with Bradley Beal."

The 6'-5", 185 pounder would already have more offers on his plate but for his academic standing. He is working on it.

"I've got to catch up. I got behind my freshman and sophomore years. But I've been picking it up. My grades are good this year."

If Illinois could project him as a qualifier and offered him a scholarship, would he have more interest in them?

"Yeah, no doubt."

McLemore attended the Illini home game with Minnesota, his first time on campus. While the game itself wasn't ideal for a visit, he still formed a favorable impression.

"I like it. There's nice fans, they really get into it. And I like the game and all."

He also likes the reputation of the coaching staff.

"I like the head coach, I like the assistant coach (Jay Price). I haven't talked to the coaches yet. They've been talking to Coach (Jeff) McCaw."

What are the best parts of the shooting guard's game?

"My shooting, my midrange. And my ball handling is improving, I'm picking up the speed. My defense is good too."

Eskridge is closing after this year, so McLemore must decide what school to attend. He is considering two schools that can help him both academically and athletically.

"Me and my mom are deciding where I should go next year. We're thinking about a prep school. I'm looking at CBC (Christian Brothers College) and Chaminade (College Prepatory School). Those are the two we've been talking about."

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