McLemore ready to prove buzz is legit

When Ben McLemore learned he was ineligible for competition during the 2011-2012 season, it would have been easy for him to feel victimized. Instead, all the redshirt freshman from St. Louis did was attack each and every practice with a savage ferocity and an open mind - and now he's ready to show everyone what he can do.

Just prior to tip off of the alumni scrimmages he holds every year during his basketball camp, head coach Bill Self has made a habit of lining the players up in front of hundreds of wide-eyed campers and giving each a bit of an introduction.

He'll talk about their stats and their accomplishments. He'll sometimes tease them a little bit. No matter what he does the campers respond, because he's Bill Self, and Bill Self knows how to work a crowd.

This year was no different, but when he got down the line to Ben McLemore he said something that should perk up the ears of any Kansas fans.

He hadn't seen him play in a game yet, Self cautioned, so he couldn't say for certain how good he would be. But McLemore's talent level is "off the charts."

It's been a common theme during the past year - McLemore's talent. Though ruled a partial qualifier by the Big 12 and thus ineligible for competition last season, he was allowed to practice with the team during the second semester, and word began to leak out about how impressive the St. Louis native looked.

It's not hard to imagine. Sure, as a prep star he had rough edges in his game to sand out, but the talent just seemed to ooze out of him at times. He turned in a dominant performance at the 2010 Nike EYBL Championship -- the Peach Jam -- with his long-range shooting and explosive athleticism, and his commitment to Kansas was cause for major celebration among Jayhawk Nation.

But McLemore is quiet and self-effacing, and his year of forced bench duty -- of all practice and no play -- matured him a great deal. It taught him a lot about what it takes to play for Bill Self, to shine at Kansas and succeed on college basketball's biggest stage.

"I treated practice every day like it was a game because I knew I wouldn't be able to play this past year," he said. "I just got out there and worked hard and played like I was supposed to play, so I could help my teammates out -- and we ended up at the Final Four in the championship game. All this hard work, it just pays off."

McLemore wants to become a more all-around player and is working hard to become so, citing his ball-handling and shooting as two areas in which he wants to improve the most. He envisions himself as a slashing, athletic two-guard with the ability to knock down the open jumper.

He's got the tools to do it. The jumper wasn't falling during Wednesday's alumni scrimmage, but McLemore still made an impact and perhaps the play of the day, when he tracked down one of his own missed three-point attempts, knifed through the middle of the lane and threw down a vicious tomahawk dunk.

Those types of plays are something he thinks Kansas fans should "definitely" expect to see a lot of from him this year. And even though he's technically a freshman -- a redshirt freshman -- he feels older. More mature.

Now, he's ready to go out and prove Self's praise and all the positive buzz about him is justified.

"It's all good, but now I've got to show them," McLemore said. "Now I've got to show the people my talent. (Self) keeps saying that, but I've got to show him and keep working hard in the gym."

"Being able to be strong and aggressive for next year (is important), because I know the Big 12 is not easy," he added. "That's all I'm going to do is just stay in the gym and work hard." Top Stories