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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.
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Monday / January 22.
  • Memphis the Last Team Standing for Lance?

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    **For more on Memphis, read my feature on Tyreke Evans here.**

    Memphis could be the last team standing in the Lance Stephenson Sweepstakes.

    With Florida, St. John’s, Kansas, Maryland and possibly Arizona all out, Memphis may have the best chance to land the 6-foot-5 Stephenson.

    “If the kid wants to come here, Memphis will take him. There’s no doubt about that,” said Keith Easterwood, a longtime AAU coach in Memphis.

    One source with knowledge went so far as to say Stephenson was planning an upcoming visit to the Conference USA school.

    “I think he is taking a visit. I think Memphis is leading,” the source said. “They are two feet in on Lance.”

    Still, word is that Memphis coach Josh Pastner has had trouble getting in touch with Lance Stephenson Sr.

    “We have two official visits left and we’re going to use those last two visits real wise,” Lance Sr. told me recently. “At this point we’re just trying to keep Lance’s recruitment private so that he can actually be recruited.”

    Lance Sr. was not immediately available for a comment on the matter today.

    Stephenson is facing a sexual assault charge that will be taken up in Brooklyn Criminal Court on June 29 and it would seem unlikely that any commitment would take place before then.

    Lance Jr. recently told me that he would choose within “three weeks” between Arizona, Florida, Maryland and Memphis, but both Florida and Maryland appear to be out, and it remains unclear if Arizona coach Sean Miller is interested.

    If Arizona lands point guard Lamont “Momo” Jones, the ‘Cats may also opt out for Lance.

    That leaves Memphis.

    On one hand, the Tigers still need some players and Lance would seem like a perfect fit.

    They play an uptempo brand of basketball in which Stephenson — the all-time leading scorer in New York State history — could flourish, even if only for one season. Lance has repeatedly said he is interested in Memphis.

    After John Calipari left Memphis for Kentucky, the Tigers lost signed commits Xavier Henry (Kansas) and Darnell Dodson (Kentucky) and two players leaning their way in point guard John Wall and big man DeMarcus Cousins, both of whom later signed with Kentucky.

    “[Stephenson] comes here for one year and stops some of the bleeding that Cal took with him,” Easterwood said.

    Incoming Memphis recruit Latavious Williams is on record saying he would love to play alongside Lance, too.

    “I haven’t met him,” Williams said of Stephenson before Williams committed to Memphis. “I saw him in Vegas. If he goes to Memphis, that would be a good thing.”

    On the other hand, Memphis is already under investigation from the NCAA in the Derrick Rose case. Rose, now with the Chicago Bulls, allegedly had someone else take his SAT for him.

    If proven true, Memphis could forfeit its 38-win season and Final Four appearance in 2008, although the current team and future of the program are not in jeopardy, Pastner said.

    There has been speculation that the BornReady.tv Website could trigger an investigation into Stephenson no matter where he goes.

    Still, Lance Sr. says he was told the site is in compliance with NCAA regulations.

    “The people from Born Ready did the documentary in compliance with the NCAA and we made sure that everything was done right and it was legal to do it,” he said.

    So the question is: Does Memphis want to go this route?

    “The debate here is do you take him and risk some more [NCAA] investigation coming off an investigation that hasn’t been settled now,” Easterwood said. “Wherever you go, people are talking about it. I just saw some valet parking guys who said, ‘Do we take him or do we not? That’s the big debate, the pros and cons of taking Lance Stephenson.”

    “There’s no doubt the kid can play. I’ve watched him since he was 13 years old. He’s a helluva player.”

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    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.

    • AZ,

      Good story.

      The thing with Lance’s attorney….Did he already submit a PETITION to the court. The basis for the petition is on Educational opportunities.
      The delay has already delayed LANCE’s plans of attending summer school.
      In order to block any additional trial delays?
      Any JUDGE would agree with such a petition.

      Also good to read that MoMo is Arizona bound…..for his visit.

      Miller’s said yesterday that he is HOPEFULLY of landing a 5th RECRUIT.
      This is on the record.

      PS:
      If Lance is confidence of having the charges DISMISSED…..I would recommend that he begin taking his TWO visits.
      So, COME June 29- He can make a decision and enroll in summer school, ASAP.
      THIS will also send a POSITVE sign of his innocense.

      • Point:
        The purpose of the Petition is to make sure there are no MORE delays.
        So, the NYC DA must go to trial or dismiss the CASE.

        PS-
        I was completely shocked that he has NOT taken one of his visits already.

    • Trojan – again with the legal opinions?

      Please …. why do you go down that path? Trying to start your own blog?

      Educational Opportunities? If this kid really wanted to start summer school, he would have signed with a school back in March/April and enrolled. From everything I’ve ever read about him, he’s a one & done wonder with no plans whatsoever to get a degree. That’s not putting him down – just an acknowledgement that he’s put all his eggs into basketball and believes he’ll be a multi-millionaire within a year or two.

      AZ – I think you’d still agree that he could end up at a number of schools. I wouldn’t even rule out St. Johns with all the twists & turns with this kid.

      This is like being unable to turn away from a car wreck; disgusting to watch yet still fascinating.

    • Come on to memphis my friend. We would love to have you. Great things in store here… not to mention a future hall of fame-r head coach… You will make Tigers proud. Forget what the media says, what other bloggers say. I’m sure you don’t care. Come and play basketball for a basketball school, in a basketball city, in an NBA arena in an NBA city. One and done? Hope not, but ok. We will respect that and encourage you all the same.

      GO TIGERS!!

    • its a little bit early to be annointing pastner as a future hall of famer. the guy hasn’t even coached a game yet. i think he has done a wonderful job so far this offseason but you should probably save the hof talk for when he does something that is hof worthy.

      to me it seems like europe would be perfect for lance, but since the stephenson camp has continually said no europe, i would have to agree that right now memphis is the leader. he would play 30-35 minutes a game and be “the guy”. makes sense

      back in the spring i would have never guessed that lance would end up at memphis. crazy stuff.

    • If he doesn’t go to Memphis what’s next? JuCo?

      How insane would it be if a 5-star McD AA wound up at a JuCo.

    • So once again Pastaboy nails the trey . It has been obvious since Cal left with everything including the potted plants thats Memphis was a perfect fit for Lance . I’ve been predicting this scenario for weeks now . When he takes his trip he’ll anounce Memphis while there . Its good for college basketball for such a great talent to end up at one of the premier programs in the country rather than some of these down trodden has been programs with suspect coaching staffs . ……looks like Memphis moves into pre-season top 10 .

    • Some of these programs which the Lance camp has rejected should be sued for libel for putting out releases that they’re dropping pursuit of Lance because of his “problems.” It’s not only a classless thing to do but could be damaging to his future earning potential . It’s typical that a classless has been loser like Gary Williams would resort to such tactics.

      • Yes, sure Pastaboy, you exude “class” all over these message boards, and then you impugn one sure to be HOF coach who hasn’t had a sniff of violations his entire tenure as a head basketball coach. Baseless and classless on your part. You cannot even verify who said UMD is out of it, even if they really are or aren’t.

        And you already put JP in the hof as a gameless coach. I think Memphis better worry about the NCAA sniffing dogs that are going to be nipping at their heels all of next year. If there were truly no compliance issues with BR up to this point, all the big players would still be there recruiting BR.

        I hope Lance works out wherever he goes. If he goes to Memphis, why would you care you big scemo. You’re not even a Memphis fan, but rather just a rabblerousing demagogue. When’s your own blog starting?

    • Preseason top ten? Dude what are you on. You can’t base your “predictions” on a recruiting class. Pastaboy is definetly a spin doctor, talking about “nails the trey” Well what about the big ol’ turd of an air ball you threw up when you made this dandy statement “too much smoke here …..there’s fire somewhere ….I’d say it’s 75/25 Xavier leaves Kansas and goes to play with Cal” -Pastaboy

      Take those rose tinted shades of yours off and offer up an objective opinion please.

      • Can’t base a prediction on a recruiting class? Tell that to Kentucky…

    • the 25 % came through genius ….so far

      • I’d say it’s 90/10 that pastaboy was sexually abused by Father/Uncle. He is still carrying around a lot of anger and takes it out on any anti Cal poster. The only “trey” that has been shot was the one by Chalmer’s…or by pasta’s dad into his rear.

        • Did you actually think this was funny?

          • I thought it was hilarious!

          • Well, that says a lot about you, doesn’t it?

    • Now you are way over the line pasta. “putting out releases” … “classless has been loser”?? You are so insane on this one it boggles the mind.

    • 25 % came through genius……not following you…….are you admitting how wrong you were? Apparently Kentucky doesn’t remember a stacked K-State recruiting class Beasley 1 Walker 5 according to recruiting sites who was knocked out in the second round of the tournament.

    • Yeah Terrapin, the dude has no reason what so ever, is he the King of factless, baseless claims. He honestley thinks Coach Cal and Memphis are the two greatest things to college baskteball despite NEVER WINNING A CHAMPIONSHIP! Well at least Cal.

    • Now that Meeks is gone ……look for Xavier to take a serious look at leaving KU and following Cal to Ky. Negotiations may be under way …..it could depend on if Cal has room for C.J.

    • Pasta – show me the official release put out by Maryland (not “unnamed sources) that said they’re dropping him for “problems”. “Sued for Libel” – are you kidding me? You’re starting to sound like USC.Trojan.

      Your hate for Maryland & Gary Williams is already well-documented and yet you just have to keep adding to it. Did the fact that he won a championship in 2002 with no HS All-Americans on the team bother you that much? Or is this still about Vasquez talking so much before the Memphis-Maryland game in March?

    • Look for……….under what information? Here some information from the source, “In a text message to Rivals.com, Xavier indicated he was sold on attending KU a year and there were no other options being considered”

      Pasta can’t show the release because the source of the majority of his leads is from his own mouth!

    • If X doesn’t leave, which he wont leave to begin with Pasta leaves enough ambiguity in his messages to say, “well I said he would just look or consider the option, I didn’t say definetively” What a joke!

    • Pasta, as much as you want X to follow Cal its not going to happen. the number one thing X has always wanted was to play with CJ. that is why he committed to memphis in the first place.
      the ncaa is allowing CJ to play next year as a transfer, but if he trasnferred again he would have to sit out a year, not allowing him and X to play together. X has been a KU fan all his life, but the most important thing to him was to play with CJ. he said in an interview “once i got the chance to play at KU and with CJ it was a done deal.”

      would it even be legal for Cal to still be recruiting X after he signed his grant in aid at KU? not that legality has ever stopped Cal before… but dont you think that would raise a few eyebrows?

      pasta please tell me where your getting the idea that this is possible, because every credible news source ive read disagrees with you.

    • Pasta’s mom is so fat she goes to a resturant, looks at the menu and says “okay!”

      • Pasta’s mom is so fat, she nevers gets the words Pasta and “Basta” confused – she doesn’t know the word Basta!

    • Don’t know why you guys reply to this douche pastaboy….that’s clearly what he wants. He knows MD is a better program and Gary is a better coach than Cal he just wants to get a rise out of everyone else. Funniest thing I read

      “Its good for college basketball for such a great talent to end up at one of the premier programs in the country rather than some of these down trodden has been programs with suspect coaching staffs”

      Suspect coaching staffs hahahaha how many games has Pastner won?

      My prediction pastaboy is about 27 and lives in his mommies basement scrolling the web all day. I feel bad for Pastaboy. I almost want Memphis to get Lance just so sad/pathetic little pastaboy can be happy

      • Too bad he’s not a Memphis fan or you might have got under his skin with that last bit.

    • Please pay no attention to pasta BOY. He is not and i repeat NOT a Memphis Tiger fan. He comes to the Tiger boards and takes shots at the tigers all the time. He is nothing more than a message board junky with nothing else to do with his life. He does not reflect the views of Tiger fans. So you guys jump all over him. The Tigr fans know that we are not in the class of Kansas and Kentucky this year or in the past. We are proud of what we have accomplished over the last 5 years. Yes we do hate Calapari, simply because he did say on Friday Memphis is where I want to be and then on Sunday was Kentucky bound. And then to top it all off he snuck out of town. Not even talking to the media. He sent a text to Andy Katz saying Go big Blue. If it was his dream job then come to the table and say so and then go don’t be under handed about it. So enough about why wwe feel the way we do. I hope all of us have a good year and memphis kansas kentucky and maryland end in the final four. And of course i dream the tigers win it all.

      • Truedat Tiger! Trudat!

    • Its true ….I disagree with the Memphis Cal haters ……this type of fan symbolizes Memphis fans of the past …. not ready for the big time Larry Finch loving doughnut eaters. Cal put Memphis basketball on the national map on a consistent basis ….he left …show some class and wish him well ….and to say Memphis is not in Ku’s or Ky’s class this year show’s a lack of knowledge as to what Lance and Lw can do with a solid core of returning players. Its a loser’s attitude ….much like the attitude under Finch ….I disagree with the Cal haters …and I support Memphis ….. simple as that .

    • pasta im going to have to respectfully disagree with the preseason top ten talk. i think memphis will be a tournament team next year especially if they get lance, but i have not seen any publication have memphis on any preseason top 25 list, so your saying if they get lance they shoot up into the top 10? i dont think so.

      again not trying to rip memphis but KU and UK are favorites to make the final four and i dont see memphis as one. they will be a good team but not a final four team. im going to agree with tiger todd on this one.

    • Jhawk ….. the current pre season predictions are mostly from blowhard sports writers who hate Memphis ……In October when the AP and coaches polls come out ….if Memphis has Lance and Lw qualified to play ….they will be in the top 10 imo and they will kick Ku’s ass when we play in Nov. ….. the loser mentality in Memphis fandom was erased by Cal ….and people like todd are anxious to get it fired up again ….. you should also know that the bloggers who post childish hate slogans about Calipari represent a very small percentage of the Memphis fan base .

    • “they will be in the top 10 imo and they will kick Ku’s ass when we play in Nov.”

      good luck with that.
      this is KU’s third game of the season. i know X and the other freshman will not be very good yet. Freshman take time to adjust to the college game. LS and LW are going to be good players, but they wont be adjusted to the college game yet. That means this game will come down to the experienced guys and KU clearly has the upper hand. they have the best 2 players on the floor (Collins and Aldrich) a whole sweet 16 team returning around them and all the experience that comes with that. Memphis has role players from a good team last year returning.

      Memphis is going to be a good team, but young teams struggle early on. KU was bad early last year because of their youth. The KU memphis game would be much more competitive in March when memphis is comfortable with there new coach and the freshman are producing at their highest level.

    • Memphis will have plenty of solid experienced players returning …Mack ….Witherspoon …Sallie ….. Niles ….. with Lw and Lance we will kick your ass Jhawk ……. once again Ku is overrated …. pre season predictions mean squat ….. besides …Bill Self is a stiff and will probably lose Xavier to Cal .

    • Just like they were overrated in 2008? yeah and that stiff bill self, man i sure wish KU had a good coach that wasnt a stiff that has won a national title, 5 conference championships in a row (in a power conference) and has us the consensus preseason number 1 for next year.
      Collins, Aldrich, Taylor, Mc and Mk Morris, Morningstar, Little, Reed plus X and CJ henry, Elijah Johnson and Thomas Robinson. Ill take that team over memphis any day.

      again, i think memphis will be good next year, but KU is the obvious favorite. on paper KU wins, and since paper is the only thing we have now, we wont know for sure until Nov.

      since its obvious im not changing your mind, lets ask someone who doesnt have a dog in the fight…

      anybody not a KU or memphis fan, what do you think about this game?

    • Ku will be favored by probably 8 or 9 …..technically its a nuetral site …… Pastner taking down the number one team in the country will be a good start …… you should have taken Lance when u had the chance …he’s the difference maker …. with Coleman and Lw on the wings rebounding will be tough for Ku …oh did I forget to mention redshirt Angel Garcia …..6’11” and shoots the trey ….. Witherspoon is another Cdr only faster ….. with Lance running the point Memphis will spoil a bunch of pre-season dreams next year…..starting with KU in Nov.

    • KU has the experience …. experience teams usually win early in the year.

    • Ky. will be the dominant team next year …with Wall and Cousins et al they’ll blitz the SEC …… in fact I doubt they lose an SEC game …..