Could Ben McLemore Be Best Freshman in Kansas Jayhawk History?
Ben McLemore had a game for the ages on Saturday.
On Saturday, the 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman, scored 36 points which set a new Kansas Jayhawks freshman record. He broke Danny Manning’s previous record which he set exactly 28 years ago to the day, against the Oklahoma State Cowboys (Ironically, Kansas Coach Bill Self played in that game against Kansas).
McLemore could have most likely had at least 40 points but with the game in hand Self called his number and McLemore went to the bench with a little more than 5 minutes left in the game.
McLemore had a stunning performance, connecting on 12 of 15 shots from the field, including 5 of 6 from beyond the 3-point line. He also had seven rebounds and four assists in the Jayhawks 91-65 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers. It was also his third thirty point game of the season.
McLemore is having on of the best freshmen seasons ever at Kansas and that is saying a lot considering the pedigree that Kansas has had.
Compare him to Paul Pierce, who is considered one of the Jayhawks top players of all-time. Paul Pierce as a freshman averaged 11.9 points , 5.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game while shooting 41.9% from the field and just 30.4% from 3pt range. Pierce was also just 60.6% from the foul line in his freshman campaign.
In 1995-96, the Jayhawks lost to the Syracuse Orangemen in the West Regional Finals
McLemore, on the other hand, averages 16.6 points , 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while shooting 50.8% from the field and just 44.2% from 3pt range. He is also 87.2% from the foul line, which leads the Big 12.
For his career, Pierce averaged 16.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in his three seasons in Lawrence, Ks.
McLemore, will not have a career longer than one season in Lawrence, Ks. because he will be a top pick in June’s NBA Lottery Draft, but it is clear that McLemore is having the best freshman season of all time.
Although, we do not know where Kansas will finish in regards to the Big 12 conference tournament or NCAA Tournament, McLemore can secure his legacy as best Kansas freshman of all-time if he helps lead the Jayhawks to the National Championship.
Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo