KUAD: Kansas vs Texas Tech pregame notes
Kansas guard Ben McLemore and center Jeff Withey have been named to the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25, announced Thursday via ESPNU by The Los Angeles Athletic Club.
Selected by the Wooden Award National Advisory Board, the list is made up of 25 student-athletes who, based on their performances in November, December, and the beginning of January, are the frontrunners for college basketball’s Wooden Award.
With McLemore and Withey listed, Kansas is one of three schools to have two players among the 25, along with Duke and Missouri.
McLemore, one of three freshmen on the Wooden midseason list, leads Kansas and is second in the Big 12 with a 16.9 scoring average. The 6-foot-5, St. Louis, Mo., redshirt freshman is coming off a career-high 33 points, on 10-of-12 shooting, including 6-for-6 from three-point range, in Kansas’ 97-89 overtime win against Iowa State Jan. 9. Included was the game-tying three with 1.3 seconds remaining.
Remember, McLemore played second fiddle in the summertime on a St. Louis Eagles team that also featured Brad Beal. He played at Oak Hill Academy with Quinn Cook and Jordan Adams. But McLemore is a quiet kid who didn't want to step on his veteran teammates' toes early this season. That's why he was reluctant to force the action in the team's lone loss, against Michigan State back in early November.
"I've played my role at times," he said. "That was my first big game and I was just trying to fit in and help the team."
But Self and the Jayhawks needed more. They desperately wanted McLemore to step out of his comfort zone and take over close games -- and that's exactly what has happened as the season has progressed. McLemore dominated when it counted against Iowa State. He buried all six of his 3-point attempts and is now shooting 46 percent from beyond the arc while averaging a team-high 16.9 points.
McLemore wasn't a McDonald's All-American after bouncing around three different high schools, and then he was crushed after learning he wasn't allowed to play last season as a freshman. However, sitting out and watching Taylor and the other guards was ultimately beneficial to his growth and progress.
"I needed it for my maturity," he said. "Last year actually wound up being a blessing."
This is a season in which the chase for the No. 1 overall pick is as wide open as it has been in a decade. Some have Cody Zeller, others Nerlens Noel, there are those who feel Shabazz Muhammad, Alex Len or Anthony Bennett should be the first to shake David Stern's hand
I say I might have put McLemore four spots too low back in June.
McLemore has some Pierce in his game, especially with his ability to shoot. He’s a 46 percent three-point shooter and is making nearly 90 percent of his free throws. He rebounds, passes and is becoming a better and better defender. Would it surprise anyone if McLemore is the top pick in this summer’s NBA draft?
There was great anticipation about the 6-foot-5 McLemore, who was declared a partial qualifier last season and had to sit out games, though he did practice with KU. He’s better than anyone thought he was going to be, and the sky was pretty much the limit.
And while it’s accurate to compare elements of his game to Pierce, dare I say it’s also spot on to say he’s got a little Michael Jordan in him. Have you seen McLemore dunk? Have you watched him drive to the basket and soar? Are you going to sit there and tell me that the Jordan comparison is blatantly unfair and that it puts undue pressure on McLemore to be something he’s not?
You might, but I’m not going to listen to you.
I am not saying McLemore is Jordan, the greatest player of all-time. Jordan was legendary not only for his skills, but for his killer demeanor and the cut-throat way he approached playing basketball. Jordan was a lock-down defender and McLemore isn’t there yet. And Jordan had at least an inch on McLemore.
But there are similarities. Enough of them to at least mention McLemore in the same sentence with Jordan, whether you want me to or not.
Wichita Eagle Lutz
Former Kansas University basketball assistant coach Matt Doherty was not surprised to see Ben McLemore’s last-second, game-tying, overtime-inducing three-pointer bank off the backboard before falling through the net.
“It’s the Phog,” ESPNU color announcer Doherty exclaimed Wednesday, asked how the 6-foot-5 McLemore could kiss a 22-foot shot off the glass with 1.3 seconds to play and force the KU-Iowa State game into OT — one in which the Jayhawks scored the first 11 points en route to a 97-89 victory.
“That,” Doherty added, “was one of the best games I’ve been part of in Allen Fieldhouse.”
That is saying a lot, considering Doherty worked seven seasons on Roy Williams’ KU staff — 1992-93 to 1998-99.
…KU senior Elijah Johnson, who passed the ball to McLemore before he stroked the game-tying three, backs up the fact McLemore is a student of the game.
“Ben is the type of person willing to learn his whole life. He never thinks he knows too much. Even when he knows something, he won’t just come off with that type of attitude,” Johnson said. “That gave him the ability to keep up with us, to know all the plays, know what to do. He’s so fundamental.
“When his man catches the ball, every time he closes out with high hands. Just small stuff other people don’t do. It hurts him when he doesn’t do something right, whether it’s make a shot or help-side defense.
“Anything he is getting right now, I truly, deep down in my heart think he deserves it,” Johnson added. “He’s a little kid on the court. At the same time, he’s growing up. He’s the coolest person in the world, one of those people you could never get mad at. I feel his character off the court is showing on the court.”
Noted Jeff Withey: “Ben does everything the right way. He’s a great teammate. That matters a lot. The fact he sat out last year, he gained so much knowledge. This year, he’s just exploding into such a great player. He’s a good guy.”
5. (Previous ranking: No. 9)
The Jayhawks' offense is really coming on. Over its past six contests entering its game against Temple, Kansas had shot more than 50 percent from the floor. Redshirt freshman Ben McLemore is on pace to be KU's highest-scoring freshman ever, eclipsing Danny Manning, and has put up four 20-point games.
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Tyrus McGee did foul Kansas’ Ben McLemore with just more than a second to play Wednesday night.
“The ref just didn’t call it,” Iowa State’s energizer guard said after sixth-ranked Kansas’ super shooter sent the Big12 Conference game into overtime.
“I got him on the bottom of his hand. I should have smacked him in the head.”
He didn’t, and that momentum carried into a big Jayhawk overtime that left the Cyclones wondering what they could have done differently in a tough, 97-89 loss before 16,300 extremely loud fans at Allen Fieldhouse.
Des Moines Register (So you're saying he should have had a 4-pt play. Mmm k.)
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Wooden Award Mid-Season Top 25
NAME Ht. Yr. Pos. SSchool Conference
Anthony Bennett 6-8 Fr. F UNLV Mountain West
Laurence Bowers 6-8 Sr. F Missouri SEC
Trey Burke 6-0 So. G Michigan Big Ten
Isaiah Canaan* 6-1 Sr. G Murray State Ohio Valley Conference
Michael Carter-Williams 6-6 So. G Syracuse Big East
Jack Cooley 6-9 Sr. F Notre Dame Big East
Seth Curry 6-2 Sr. G Duke ACC
Jamaal Franklin 6-5 Jr. G San Diego State Mountain West
Erick Green 6-3 Sr. G Virginia Tech ACC
Elias Harris 6-8 Sr. F Gonzaga WCC
Pierre Jackson 5-10 Sr. G Baylor Big 12
Sean Kilpatrick 6-4 Jr. G/F Cincinnati Big East
C.J. McCollum 6-3 Sr. G Lehigh Patriot League
Doug McDermott* 6-8 Jr. F Creighton Missouri Valley Conference
Ben McLemore 6-5 Fr. G Kansas Big 12
Brandon Paul 6-4 Sr. G Illinois Big Ten
Mason Plumlee 6-10 Sr. F Duke ACC
Otto Porter, Jr. 6-8 So. F Georgetown Big East
Phil Pressey 5-11 Jr. G Missouri SEC
Marcus Smart 6-4 Fr. G Oklahoma State Big 12
Russ Smith 6-0 Jr. G Louisville Big East
Deshaun Thomas 6-7 Jr. F Ohio State Big Ten
Jeff Withey 7-0 Sr. C Kansas Big 12
Nate Wolters 6-4 Sr. G South Dakota State The Summit League
Cody Zeller 7-0 So. F Indiana Big Ten
(Players listed alphabetically.)*indicates player was 2012 Wooden Award All American
Cousy Award Finalists
Jahii Carson – Arizona State University
Pierre Jackson – Baylor University
Quinn Cook – Duke University
Kevin Pangos – Gonzaga University
Keith Appling – Michigan State University
Isaiah Canaan – Murray State University
Kendall Williams – New Mexico
Lorenzo Brown – North Carolina State University
Aaron Craft – The Ohio State University
D.J. Cooper – Ohio University
Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State University
Nate Wolters – South Dakota State University
Michael Carter-Williams – Syracuse University
Mark Lyons – University of Arizona
Ray McCallum Jr. – University of Detroit-Mercy
Peyton Siva – University of Louisville
Trey Burke – University of Michigan
Andre Hollins – University of Minnesota
Phil Pressey – University of Missouri
Erick Green – Virginia Tech University
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Marcus Smart and Markel Brown each scored 14 points, and Le'Bryan Nash added 13 as Oklahoma State defeated TCU 63-45 Wednesday night.
Philip Jurick grabbed 10 rebounds for Oklahoma State (11-3, 1-1 Big 12), which owned a 40-17 rebounding edge. Nash, Brown and Kamari Murphy each had six rebounds. Brown also had five assists.
Miami is 2-0 in ACC play for the first time since joining the league in 2004-05, after beating North Carolina 68-59 at the Smith Center on Thursday night. The Tar Heels fell to 0-2.
Keith Appling's four crucial free throws Thursday night weren't nearly as exciting as his late basket in Michigan State's win over Kansas back in November.
Still, Appling showed why the little things make all the difference between winning and losing on the road in the Big Ten.
Branden Dawson scored a career-high 17 points, including a late steal and tiebreaking dunk, and Appling went 4 for 4 from the line in the final 20 seconds as the 22nd-ranked Spartans sneaked past Iowa 62-59.
The Kentucky Wildcats used a big no call on a shot clock violation to pull off an ugly 60-58 win over Vanderbilt in Memorial Gym.
Kentucky had a 3 point lead with 18 seconds left when Nerlens Noel lofted a left handed shot to the basket and if fell through the net just as the shot clock expired. Replays showed the clock hit zero before the ball left his hand and should not have counted. Commodore head coach Kevin Stallings called timeout to try and get the officials to take a look at it, but the play was not reviewable. The officials huddled, but did not change the call. Vandy’s Kedran Johnson then hit a 3 with 8 seconds left. Kentucky then tried to inbound the ball and Julius Mays couldn’t handle the pass, which turned the ball back over to Vandy. Johnson missed a 3 to win the game as time expired.
Why did Calipari kick his injured player?
Why didn't Bob Knight understand what the shot clock was?
E.J. Singler scored 14 points and Oregon overcame a slow start to beat No. 4 Arizona on Thursday night, handing the Wildcats their first loss of the season.
Jack Taylor, who set the NCAA scoring record with 138 points in a game in November, is out for the season after breaking his wrist.
Grinnell College spokesman Ted Schultz says Taylor fractured the radius on his shooting arm during a 119-117 win over rival Cornell (Iowa) on Wednesday.
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Let's start with my midseason Player of the Year choice. I will go with Creighton's Doug McDermott. There are a number of viable candidates, but I like the junior forward. The versatile, multitalented Bluejay is all about winning and is very unselfish. His presence on the court forces defenses to adjust and it creates angles for his teammates.
Next up is my midseason Coach of the Year. There are a number of viable candidates. Illinois coach John Groce has instilled a sense of pride in wearing that Illini uniform. I know his team lost a tough one to Missouri, but look at the quality wins. Illinois beat a good Butler team to win the tournament in Maui after Brad Stevens' team beat North Carolina. The Illini also got a big road W over Gonzaga.
Larry Shyatt has Wyoming in a surprising position early on. Tubby Smith has done a solid job at Minnesota. Stevens has Butler playing at a good level. Travis Ford of Oklahoma State has done a very good job, as well. Sean Miller has had Arizona escaping with win after win.
My pick is Mike Krzyzewski of Duke. His Blue Devils have faced a rugged schedule and never faltered. Wins over Ohio State, Louisville, Minnesota, Kentucky and VCU gives Duke as good a résumé as any team in America.
As for the Diaper Dandy of the first half, UNLV's Anthony Bennett has been outstanding right out of the gate. He can rebound, score and make big plays. He has been a PTPer.
Finally it's time for my first team of midseason All-America players. They have been the crème de la crème out there. This is not about rating players for the NBA, but guys who have done a super job for their respective teams.
McDermott and Bennett headline my squad. Then add Mason Plumlee of Duke, who has been a double-double guy facing a lot of super competition. The Blue Devils beat Ohio State, Louisville, Minnesota and Kentucky already.
In my backcourt are Michigan's Trey Burke and Lehigh's C.J. McCollum. Burke has had the Wolverines among the elite teams in America this season. McCollum doesn't always get the national exposure of others, but he has put up superb numbers. Unfortunately, he was injured against VCU over the weekend, ending up on crutches for the second half of the contest.
Where will Wiggins go?
For tens of thousands of basketball fans nationwide, the ultimate question will have to wait until after the 2012-13 season to be answered.
Wiggins confirmed he will have three more visits after the season -- to Kentucky, North Carolina and Kansas. He visited Florida State in December.
That means the basketball nation will have to wait to find out where the player dubbed "Canada's LeBron" is headed.
While the decision is a few months away, Wiggins knows exactly what he's looking for in his college.
"I want a good skill-development coach and a coach who is going to be there to support me," Wiggins said. "I would like to go somewhere where I can win a national championship, and I think all the places I'm thinking about going to, I can do that."
The race for Wiggins is extremely tight and it seems like a three-horse race between Kentucky, Florida State and North Carolina in no particular order. Wiggins said he is still visiting Kansas, but the odds of him going there are slim to none.
Of course, as a Kansas resident, when Ojeleye gets approached by people who want to discuss his college choice, it’s rarely to ask him about playing with fellow incoming Duke freshman Jabari Parker, of Chicago, Rivals’ No. 2 recruit in the country. It’s more like: Why didn’t you pick Kansas or Kansas State?
“You have to live with your own decision at the end of the day,” Ojeleye said, adding he did what was best for him.
His older brother, Victor, walked on at K-State, and KU is the national powerhouse over which basketball fans in this part of the country fawn and fret. The state’s two Big 12 programs were on Ojeleye’s radar before last summer, when he pared down his list to Duke, Indiana, Stanford and UCLA.
Former KU assistant coach Danny Manning had been Ojeleye’s contact at KU. When Manning left to become Tulsa’s head coach this past spring, Ojeleye said his communication with Kansas tapered off. He said KU showed renewed interest in him later, in the summer, and wanted him to take an unofficial visit to Lawrence. But by then he already had an idea of the programs best suited for him, and Ojeleye let Kansas know it wasn’t on the short list.
Eventually, Krzyzewski and Duke beat out the rest of his suitors.
“I was thinking, ‘What team’s the best, and what coaching staff has my best interest in mind?’” Ojeleye said. “And I thought Coach K and his coaching staff really meshed with me. That’s what it came down to.”
Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle are among the high school stars expected to compete in the Jordan Brand Classic April 13 at the Barclays Center.
Tickets go on sale today (Friday) at 10 a.m. on Ticketmaster.
My 2012 KU Alumni games, 2011-12 Border War, Legends of the Phog, KC Prep Invitational, & Jayhawk Invitational Videos, Late Night in the Phog, and more now on YouTube