Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith says Lance Stephenson can play in the NBA right now.
“I definitely think that he can play for a team right now because he has those type of skills and he has the body weight to match that physicality of the NBA,” Smith said of the 6-5 Stephenson.
Smith is mentoring Stephenson and other members of the US 2009 team at the adidas Basketball Experience in Dallas, and he is very impressed with the player they call “Born Ready.”
“I think he’s a very good player,” Smith said by phone. “He’s a great high school player. He’s strong, athletic, can handle the ball, can shoot the ball exceptionally well. I definitely think that he has an all-around game.”
Stephenson was cut from the US U18 team because he sometimes did not display the most team-oriented behavior, but Smith said he hasn’t seen that so far in Dallas.
“They’re all trying to score the basketball,” he said. “They’re all being aggressive with the basketball. I don’t think that he’s not being a team player because I’ve seen him pass the ball. You have scorers and you have passers. He’s definitely one that can score the basketball.”
Asked what Stephenson needed to work on, Smith said:
“I don’t see the kid on a day-to-day basis so I don’t really konw what he needs to work on. Just his ability to make moves in the lane on multiple guys without getting ripped or losing the basketball is real impressive to me. Him being able to finish with both hands and being able to dribble with both hands.”
Stephenson is considering Kansas, St. John’s, UCLA, USC, Memphis and Tennessee. Stay tuned for more on him….
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.