High-scoring, high-flying Ben McLemore lost track of his point total as it grew and grew during Thursday’s Rock Chalk Roundball Classic KU alumni basketball game at Free State High School.
“As far as the second half, I don’t know the number. I know I scored a lot,” former KU wing McLemore said, flashing a wide smile when informed he scored 52 points in the KU Red squad’s 128-109 victory over the Blue squad.
“This is special for me. Fifty in an NBA game would sound great too,” added the 6-foot-5, fifth-year NBA veteran who averaged 7.5 points per game last season — his first with the Memphis Grizzlies after four with the Sacramento Kings.
“This is a great moment. I love coming out here each and every year performing, having fun. Seeing the kids and fans brings out the best in me.”
McLemore has attended five straight Roundball Classics, an event which raises money for families battling cancer.
McLemore, a 25-year-old St. Louis native who has one year left on his current contract with Memphis, said, “absolutely,” when asked if he could see himself scoring 50 in an NBA game. “Keep shooting the ball. Keep shooting the ball,” he stated when asked how he could make that happen.
McLemore hit 10 three-pointers on Thursday and also had a number of dunks. He finished the game by firing the ball off the north wall of the gym, retrieving the ball as it bounced above the rim and flushing it through the hoop.
The refs overlooked the fact he actually threw the ball out of bounds to begin the flashy dunk, putting two final points on the board.
“Mario Chalmers told me to throw it off the wall,” McLemore said, noting the flashiest he’s been in a real game is throwing “it off the backboard (and dunking).”
Chalmers, his teammate with the Grizzlies, scored 29 points for the losing Blue team, which was paced by Keith Langford’s 32 points.
“Ben’s good. Youth wins out,” joked the 34-year-old Langford who played last season in Israel.
“Nothing Ben does surprises me. He’s a great player and I love to see him do well,” noted former KU center Jeff Withey, who had seven points for the Red team.
Drew Gooden scored 19 points, Elijah Johnson 18 and Sherron Collins 12 for the winning Red squad.
“Not really,” McLemore said, asked if he tried to make sure to outscore Chalmers. “We just want to go out and perform. We’re always having fun giving the fans entertainment and a show.”
McLemore said this summer he would “continue to get better in all aspects of my game, building my shot, defense, ballhandling, just my all-around game. Each and every year I’m getting better, improving. I want to continue to become the great player I know I can be.”
He said he can envision himself becoming an All-Star.
“Absolutely. I’ve still got time. I’m young,” he said.
Game highlights: Withey had a slam off a lob from Gooden, who hit two early threes. … Withey blocked a shot of Langford's near the goal. … Chalmers hit a deep three to conclude the first-half scoring. … Collins hit his first three of the night on a possession in which he missed two threes, the third the charm. … Tyrel Reed had a spinning reverse dunk and scored 16 for the Blue team. … McLemore scored off a lob from Devonté Graham. Graham had eight points for the winners.
Border War alumni game coming
It was revealed after the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic that a Kansas-Missouri Border War alumni basketball game, to benefit Kareem Rush’s “Rush Forward Foundation” will be contested July 28 at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence, Mo.
The website rivalryrenewed.com will have more information in coming days.
Preliminary reports from the website say former KU players such as Chalmers, McLemore, Wayne Selden, Cole Aldrich and Markieff and Marcus Morris will play for a KU alumni team against a Missouri alumni squad that includes DeMarre Carroll, Jordan Clarkson, Phil Pressey, Kareem Rush, Linas Kleiza and others.
More details will be available soon, one of the game organizers told The Star at Thursday’s Classic.
Red 128, Blue 109
Red: Ben McLemore 52, Drew Gooden 19, Elijah Johnson 18, Sherron Collins 12, Devonté Graham 8, Jeff Withey 7, Conner Teahan 5, Travis Releford 2. A young fan pulled from the stands to play a few minutes had five points.
Blue: Keith Langford 32, Mario Chalmers 29, Tyrel Reed 16, Nick Bradford 9, Jamari Traylor 6, Jeff Hawkins 5, Rex Walters 5, Clay Young 4, Jeff Graves 3.