You can still be a Jayhawk, Ben McLemore. Just don’t be a stranger.
Nobody was surprised today when you announced your plans to head off to the NBA. You’ve scored more points than any other freshman at KU. DraftExpress projects you as the No. 2 overall draft pick this year. NBADraft.net has you going first. And every mock draft has you going in the top five. This is your time. It’s your chance to start your career and take care of your family. Nobody can begrudge you that.
The fans will be OK. The team will be OK. Every year we lose talent to graduation or the NBA and resign ourselves to a horrible season, and every year Bill Self finds a way to win.
I don’t know how it feels to declare for the NBA draft. But I know how it feels to realize your time at KU is done. No matter how many exciting things your future holds — and your future holds a whole lot — it hurts to leave a place that felt like home.
I just hope the University means as much to you as it does to everyone who packed Allen Fieldhouse or followed the team on the road or watched you on TV. I hope you think of KU as your school, and consider the Jayhawks your team for the rest of your life. I hope you felt like a real college student, that you learned about more than just basketball, that you made real friends, that you grew up a little in the two years you spent on Mt. Oread.
I hope you miss Kansas the way thousands of alumni around the world do. And I hope you come back. You can always work on your degree in the offseason, you know. The best thing about being a Jayhawk: You’ll always be welcome in Lawrence.
There’s no such thing as a former Jayhawk, and there’s always room for you in our KU family.
When it feels like the whole world is watching your every move, scrutinizing your every choice, please remember two things:
- You have the support of thousands of people who have never even met you. We want you to succeed.
- You don’t owe us anything. That’s not how family works.
Good luck, Ben McLemore. Thanks for everything.