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.
Kentucky Offers 2015 7-Footer Zimmerman; Duke, St. John’s, UCLA, Louisville, Arizona, Ohio State Reach Out (UPDATED)
The past 48 hours have been a whirlwind for 2015 big man Stephen Zimmerman.
The 7-foot Bishop Gorman (LV) High School star picked up a Kentucky offer Monday morning and has been courted by Duke, St. John’s, UCLA, Arizona and Ohio State, among others.
“Just got offered a scholarship to play basketball from the University of Kentucky!!,” Zimmerman tweeted.
During a phone interview Monday night, Lori Stevens, Stephen’s mom, told SNY.tv that her son spoke Sunday night with Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua, and then head coach John Calipari called Lori Monday morning and “extended the offer to Steven through me.”
“That’s such an honor,” she added. “Kentucky with their history and Coach Cal, it feels like Stephen’s worked so hard to get to where he is and keeps working. It just kind of validates for him that his hard work is paying off and people are seeing it.”
Zimmerman had already been offered by more than a dozen schools, including Kansas, UCLA and UConn and Arizona, but his stock got a shot in the arm with a strong showing over the weekend at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Virginia.
The Kentucky news triggered a shout out from former Bishop Gorman star Shabazz Muhammad, a projected lottery pick in the June 27 NBA Draft.
“S/o to my little bro @BIGG_ZIMM doing big things and getting a offer from Kentucky today!!!! #dreamvisin/gorman fam,” he Tweeted.
Later Monday, Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski called Zimmerman again after about three weeks of contact.
“Wojo told him that they wanted to watch him a little bit more and they would be following him in July,” Lori said. “Coach K wanted to see him because he hadn’t seen him in a while, and see how he was doing. And once he had a chance to watch him again, that they would probably offer.”
Lori said St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin was in Los Angeles and they were planning to speak with him later Monday night.
“We’re recently interested to see what they have to say,” Lori said. “I watched Coach Lavin when he coaches at UCLA so I’m not a stranger to him. I thought he was great then. He saw Stephen as a freshman, so it’s quite an honor. And he sent a really nice today. It was pictures of their uniforms and said, ‘Zimmerman would be unstoppable’ with his name on the back. It’s a good feeling knowing that his hard work is paying off.”
Louisville also reached out recently, “a minute after Kentucky did,” Lori said.
“We’re supposed to have a call with Coach [Rick] Pitino this week and we want to get to know them as well,” she said.
UCLA reached out Monday night and Lori said she hopes to speak with head coach Steve Alford.
Arizona head coach Sean Miller spoke with Stephen Sunday night and Ohio State assistant Jeff Boals had also been “pretty persistent” in reaching out, Lori said.
She said Indiana, Notre Dame and Michigan had also reached out and she needed to get back with them.
Zimmerman, the No. 2 rated player in the Class of 2015 behind California forward Ivan Rabb according to Rivals, helped lead the Gaels to a 29-3 record and the program’s second straight Nevada 4A title as a sophomore last season.
In the state final, a 69-43 rout of Centennial, Zimmerman scored 18 points to go along with 14 rebounds and 10 blocked shots.
Lori said her son would play the Adidas tournaments in July and then possibly take some visits in the fall.
“I thought it was overwhelming before, but it’s a whole new level now,” Lori said with a laugh.
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