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 will likely return to Cincinnati for his sophomore season instead of declaring for the NBA Draft, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
“I think I’m going to stay and keep working,” Stephenson told the newspaper. “I don’t think I’ve had an NBA season this year so the best choice for me is to stay.”
“Lance really likes it at Cincy,” Lance Stephenson Sr. added in a text message. “My wife and I are happy how he’s maturing and enjoying the college life. We will support him with any decision he makes.”
The all-time leading scorer in New York state history, Stephenson was tabbed as the Big East Preseason Rookie of the Year, but there is no guarantee he’ll win the postseason award.
Rutgers rookie Dane Miller is averaging 12.5 points and 6.6 boards overall and 9.4 points and 6.1 rebounds in the conference. He has won the last three Rookie of the Week honors.
Stephenson is averaging 11.2 points and 4.8 rebounds overall and 10.7 and 4.6 in Big East games.
He is shooting just 20 percent (11 for 56) from beyond the arc and has committed a team-best 64 turnovers.
“[Stephenson] has had a heck of a freshman year,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin told the Enquirer. “But he’s had some rough spots, no doubt about it.”
NBA scouts have been underwhelmed by Stephenson’s freshman season and the Enquirer cited several scouts who said he would be no higher than a low second-round pick.
“He’s been good this year for Cincinnati but I don’t know if he would have projected as a high-lottery pick,” New York recruiting expert Tom Konchalski said. “I think down the road he certainly will be. I think he’s improved his game. He’s learned to play with other players more comfortably and another year at Cincinnati under Mick Cronin will only make him a better player.”
Cronin told the Enquirer that Stephenson will meet after the season with his parents to discuss his future but could understand why he might want to return.
“He definitely wants to play better,” Cronin said. “That’s just a reflection of him letting you know, ‘Hey, I know I need to play better.’
“Lance’s big thing is maturity and not trying to score on a guy just because he scored on him on the previous play, not breaking the offense and going one-on-five.”
(Photo courtesy Cincinnati Enquirer)
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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.