McLemore, Traylor ready to go for No. 7 Kansas


McLemore, Traylor ready to go for No. 7 Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) The taste of college basketball has come in sips for Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor, just enough to make them thirsty for more.

The high-profile recruits were deemed partial qualifiers by the NCAA last season, which left them to watch as Kansas made another remarkable run to the Final Four. They couldn't practice until the second semester, and even then had to find their own way to see games played on the road.

They were finally able to suit up during a summer trip to Europe, and then got their first true taste of Allen Fieldhouse in a pair of exhibition games against Division II opponents.

On Friday night, the talented freshmen will finally get to absorb big-time college hoops.

The seventh-ranked Jayhawks - the eight-time defending Big 12 champions - open against Southeast Missouri in their only tuneup before next week's showdown against No. 14 Michigan State.

McLemore and Traylor should have been eligible last season, as far as coach Bill Self is concerned. But some questions about their grades forced them to stay away from the program entirely the first semester. It wasn't until December that they could practice with the team.

That is when McLemore, an athletic guard who draws comparisons to Brandon Rush, and Traylor, a slightly undersized version of Thomas Robinson, finally showed teammates what they had been missing.

McLemore has an uncanny ability to hover in the air, something he demonstrated on a couple of high-flying dunks during exhibition games. Traylor has the same kind of rebounding ability - though still unharnessed - that made Robinson a first-team All-American last season.

``The greatest lesson I learned last year is to just be humble, and you know, let things come to you and stuff like that,'' McLemore said. ``Last year I was getting a lot of talk from Elijah Johnson, and he was telling me stuff he'd been though, and stuff I will go through.''

Even Johnson, a senior, couldn't prepare McLemore for sitting out a year, though.

It was bad enough to have to watch games on campus, no different than the thousands of students who pack the ends of Allen Fieldhouse for every home game. But it was games on the road that were truly challenging - the logistics of getting there presenting plenty of hurdles.

Sometimes they would hitch a ride with cheerleaders or band members, or perhaps some friends, and sometimes they would figure out a way to drive themselves to far-flung places like Lubbock, Texas.

``I mean, I couldn't play, but I also enjoyed watching my teammates play,'' McLemore said, ``and all I could think about was next year and what we could do as a team again.''

Naturally, McLemore and Traylor have become fast friends.

That is what happens when you spend so much time in the car together.

``Maybe a little too much time in the car, because Ben McLemore has the worst gas,'' Traylor said with a laugh. ``Definitely too much time on the road with that.''

The duo even managed to find a way to New Orleans, where they watched the Jayhawks beat Ohio State in the national semifinals before falling to Kentucky in the title game.

``We definitely went to the Final Four. That was a great experience,'' McLemore said, sounding only a little despondent. ``Hopefully we as a team can go back there again.''

If they do, McLemore and Traylor will be a big reason why.

The 6-foot-5 guard from St. Louis led the Jayhawks with 14 points and eight rebounds per game in their two exhibition games, showing perhaps the best instincts on the team. Traylor averaged 5.5 points and three rebounds, but has only played high-level, organized basketball for a couple years.

That makes the comparisons to Robinson, at least for now, a bit unfair.

``If Thomas got one mitt on the ball, he got possession of it. He was a fierce, competitive rebounder,'' Self said. ``The thing about Jamari, Jamari's going to be good, but he's never played. He's going to be good, but it's going to take time.''

Plenty of patience, too, something McLemore and Traylor have already demonstrated they have.

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The 2018 salaries of five Redskins become fully guaranteed today

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The 2018 salaries of five Redskins become fully guaranteed today

It may be the 18th of March but today could be like Christmas for five Redskins players.

The Redskins decided to use today, four days after the start of the league year, for some contract triggers. In this case, the triggers are all 2018 salary guarantees (some teams will pay out roster bonuses on trigger dates, but the Redskins rarely use that type of structure).

Here are the players whose have guarantees that kick in today 4 p.m. All data is via Over the Cap.


CB Josh Norman, base salary of $13.5 million becomes fully guaranteed—This was a window for the Redskins to move on from Norman if they were not happy with his performance after two seasons. He is 31 and he had no interceptions last season, leaving some to wonder if the Redskins might think about releasing him. But it never was a consideration.

TE Jordan Reed, $8 million of his $8.25 million salary becomes fully guaranteed—No, I’m not sure why they are leaving that $250,000 out there non-guaranteed. Fans thought that the Redskins might move on from Reed due to his injury issues. But, as with Norman, it never was a consideration.

S D.J. Swearinger, $3 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—This is a mere technicality, Swearinger wasn’t going anywhere after helping to solidify the safety position.


RB Chris Thompson, $1.996 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—His rehab is going well and after last year Thompson’s two-year, $7 million contract extension signed last September looks like a good deal for the team.

DE Terrell McClain, $3.25 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—If the Redskins sign a top free agent D-lineman or draft on early in the draft they could be in a numbers crunch. That new acquisition would be guaranteed a roster spot along with Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Stacy McGee, and Anthony Lanier. That makes five and the Redskins kept six last year. Ziggy Hood is a favorite of the coaching staff but he has no guaranteed money left on his contract. That could tip the sixth spot in favor of McClain if he is on the roster at the close of business today. If they release McClain after today, they would take a cap charge of over $2 million. It seems unlikely that anything will happen but it’s something to keep an eye on.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


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It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

The Wizards crossed off an important goal on Saturday night by beating the Indiana Pacers and therefore securing the season series. If the teams tie with the same regular season record, the Wizards will get the higher playoff seed. As of today, that would mean home court advantage in the first round.

Though the Wizards have beaten the Pacers in two of their three matchups this season, we only know so much about how they would match up in the playoffs. The first game between them didn't feature Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo and John Wall didn't play in any of the three games. The Pacers were without both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on Saturday night.

Given the Pacers underwent so much change over the summer, there is no real data to go off of from before this season. They are a completely different team with Oladipo leading the way and Paul George now in Oklahoma City.


There are reasons to believe, however, that the Wizards would fare well against the Pacers over the course of a seven-game series. For one, they figured out how to slow Oladipo and his teammate Bojan Bogdanovic on Saturday night. Both had killed the Wizards in previous matchups.

Oladipo was held to 18 points, over five points below his season average of 23.5. He had four turnovers, shot 7-for-16 (43.7%) and finished a -18 in a game the Pacers lost by seven.

The Wizards had some success with Tomas Satoransky guarding Oladipo. Satoransky is 6-foot-7 with long arms. He was able to recover on several occasions to alter Oladipo's shots.

Satoransky and Bradley Beal also did a good job keeping pace with Oladipo on the fastbreak. The Pacers had only four fastbreak points in the game. Oladipo is especially dangerous in the open court.

“We just made sure that we were aggressive with him and made sure he saw a lot of bodies in the paint," Beal said. "The last game, he got a lot of easy ones in transition. We just made sure that we got back on the shot, loaded to the ball and forced the other guys to attack.”

For Bogdanovic, it was about limiting open shots from the perimeter. Bogdanovic had 11 points, three below his season average and had four turnovers. Beal and Otto Porter stripped Bogdanovic for steals and Marcin Gortat took a charge on one play in the third quarter.


But it was all about taking away the outside shot. Bogdanovic only hit one shot in the first half and it was a three. The only reason he got it off is because Kelly Oubre, Jr. lost his balance backing up. That gave Bogdanovic the window he needed. Otherwise, Oubre helped frustrate the former Wizards small forward. So did Gortat and Ian Mahinmi, who did a good job covering their teammates off screens.

The Pacers are an average offensive team, ranking 16th in points per game and 14th in offensive rating. They are better defensively, ranking ninth-best in opponents points per game and 12th in defensive efficiency.

If the Wizards can limit Oladipo and Bogdanovic, the Pacers' two leading scorers, they should have a good shot at beating the Pacers in the playoffs. Beyond them, the Pacers are thin in the scoring department. Turner only averages 13.6 points and no one else beyond him can consistently make an opposing defense pay for mistakes. Conversely, several Wizards players have given the Pacers major trouble through three games this season.

Gortat, who had 18 points and eight rebounds on Saturday, has averaged 13 points and eight rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting against Indiana. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who had 16 points in 18 minutes, has averaged 15.5 points and is shooting 50 percent from the field.


In addition to those guys, Markieff Morris, Porter, Mike Scott, Mahinmi and Satoransky are all shooting over 50 percent against the Pacers. Satoransky is shooting 71.4 percent through three games.

The Wizards have the pieces to counter what the Pacers do best. Indiana is seventh in three-point percentage, but the Wizards are the best team in basketball in opponents three-point percentage. The Pacers are built around an All-Star guard, but the Wizards have two All-Star guards. The Pacers have a collection of talented wing players, but so do the Wizards.

"Hypothetically, I do like Indiana," Beal said. "I like how we match up with Indiana and I feel like there is a lot of stuff that we can take advantage of. In a lot of categories, I think we can win them."

Add it all up and the Wizards have every reason to feel confident if they see the Pacers in the posteason. Keep that in mind because they very well could meet up in the spring.

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