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.
Lance Stephenson says Europe is not an option and that he will definitely go to college next year.
“I don’t think it’s a good decision to go to Europe,” Stephenson told the MSG Network in a interview broadcast at halftime of St. Benedict’s 89-53 victory over Lincoln Saturday at the Prudential Center. “I just want to go to college and experience new things.”
The 6-foot-5 Stephenson, ranked No. 1 in the Class of 2009 by the Hoop Scoop and No. 9 by Rivals, lists St. John’s, Kansas, Memphis and USC as his favorites and has repeatedly told me and other reporters he likes the idea of bringing St. John’s back.
“I think about that a lot,” he told MSG. “I was thinking about that with my family, to bring St. John’s back, so I think that would be a good look.”
Stephenson was in attendance last week at Madison Square Garden when UConn downed St. John’s. Stephenson hung out outside the Johnnies locker room and said he could imagine himself playing under the lights of the Garden, where his team has won three straight PSAL city crowns. Red Storm head coach Norm Roberts has made it a point to attend several Lincoln games.
Kansas coach Bill Self also attended the Lincoln-Duncanville (Texas) game broadcast last month on ESPN. USC coach Tim Floyd watched Stephenson several times last summer.
As for Memphis, while Lance continues to mention the Tigers, it doesn’t appear that John Calipari is actively recruiting Stephenson. The Tigers already have a senior wing committed in 6-6 Xavier Henry, whose team lost to St. Anthony last Monday in Springfield, Mass.
As for Europe, Stephenson told me last summer that he would consider following Brandon Jennings to Europe, but Jennings is now struggling a bit for Lottomatica Virtus Roma in Italy despite earning $1.2 million a year in salary and endorsements.
“I’ve gotten paid on time once this year,” Jennings told The New York Times in an email “They treat me like I’m a little kid. They don’t see me as a man. If you get on a good team, you might not play a lot. Some nights you’ll play a lot; some nights you won’t play at all. That’s just how it is.”
Some experts speculated that Jennings’ decision to play in Europe instead of going to college would spur others, like Stephenson, Henry, DeMarcus Cousins, Renardo Sidney and Derrick Favors to follow suit. But all of those players have either committed to colleges or said they will.
“I don’t see too many kids doing it,” Jennings said of going to Europe. “It’s tough man, I’ll tell you that. It can break you.”
As for Lance, his team has now lost four of five but remains focused on winning a fourth straight PSAL city championship at the Garden. He will announce his college plans after the season.
“I’m just worrying about the season right now,” Stephenson said.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
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.