- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Kansas fans are eager to see what Ben McLemore can do, and for good reason. McLemore was the highest touted recruit in coach Bill Self’s 2011 class, but he was ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA Eligibility Center; as such, he was allowed to practice and go to school in Lawrence, but couldn’t suit up for a Kansas team that could have very much used some backcourt depth off the bench (and still went to the national title game anyway).
Self has touted McLemore’s ability more than once this offseason, but Kansas fans haven’t had a chance to see what the fuss is all about. In some ways, this week’s trip to Switzerland, part of Kansas’ preseason European tour, is that first opportunity. KU fans may not be able to see televised broadcasts, and the games may be exhibitions, but at least they can gather some dispatches. How does McLemore play? Is he ready to be a star?
Unfortunately, the answers to those questions remain delayed. Per the Lawrence Journal-World, McLemore tweaked his groin in KU’s final pre-tour practice Saturday. As a result, he played just 16 minutes in Tuesday’s game and just five on Wednesday, and Self seems unsure whether he’ll be able to get his sophomore any valuable preseason minutes:
“He wants to play,” KU coach Bill Self said. “He needs this more than maybe anybody on our team, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to get to have it.”
McLemore played 16 minutes in KU’s first game against Switzerland on Tuesday.
“He’s been trying to play, but I don’t think he’s going to be able to get out there much,” Self said. “We’ll give it another try in Paris (on Saturday) and see what happens.”
That’s a bummer, but what can you do? The injury doesn’t seem serious, but a groin tweak can turn into a nagging injury if not treated (read: rested) properly, so as much as Self wants to install McLemore in his retooled lineup, the risk just isn’t worth it.
In the meantime, the good news is forward Kevin Young retains a mastery of both international and domestic basketball rules. Per the LJW, Young made a big play against Switzerland Tuesday when he tipped a ball off the rim with three minutes left and his team down by three. And he did it against the wishes of his coach, no less:
“Since we figured out we were going over (to Europe), I was like, ‘Oh yeah. I’m starting to tip everything off the glass in practice,’” Young said. “Coach (Norm) Roberts was like, ‘No, don’t do that. Not yet. Not yet.’ So I think that was a really good play.”
So maybe McLemore isn’t getting what his coach (and KU fans) hoped out of the European trip. But Young is demonstrating a borderline diplomatic knowledge of various rules of the game. You win some, you lose some, I guess.