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 has said he won’t announce his college decision until April 2009.
“Think Tyreke Evans,” is how one college assistant put it.
The 6-foot-5 Evans, MVP of this year’s McDonald’s All-American Game, waited until April to announce that he would attend Memphis over Villanova and Texas.
Now it appears that Stephenson, the No. 2 shooting guard in the Class of 2009, could be the next great player to wait until the NCAA late signing period.
Kansas, USC, UCLA and St. John’s appear to be the main suitors for Brooklyn’s Stephenson, known as “Born Ready.” Bill Self of Kansas, Tim Floyd of Southern Cal, Ben Howland of UCLA and Norm Roberts of St. John’s all watched Stephenson during his recent stint in Vegas, and Lance and his father have consistently listed those schools among the favorites, although Lance has also mentioned Tennessee and Texas. Lance has visited St. John’s, USC and UCLA but not Kansas and no visit to that school has yet been planned, according to a source.
Rumors have surfaced that St. John’s would hire Dwayne “Tiny” Morton, Lance’s coach at Lincoln High, in an effort to entice Stephenson to attend the Queens school. Roberts told me this isn’t true, but with the recent Dwon Clifton-to-Baylor hiring, anything seems possible in the world of college hoops.
Still, with nearly a year before the big decision, there is plenty of time for another school — Memphis, Louisville, Tennessee, Seton Hall? — to get in there and make a push.
Lance also hasn’t ruled following Brandon Jennings to Europe.
“I think I want the education so I think I would go to college,” he told me this summer. “I’m looking at Brandon right now, see how he’s doing. If he goes there (to Europe) then I’ll see how it is. If I do it, then I’ll do it, but right now I’m thinking about college.”
Stephenson has had an up-and-down summer. He was cut from the US U18 National Team after repeatedly clashing with head coach Bob McKillop of Davidson for behavior that was deemed counterproductive to the team concept. The Americans went on to lose in the finals to host Argentina in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
Lance then went to Vegas, where several observers declared his play — and behavior — to be less than stellar despite the fact that he had several 20+ games.
Soon Stephenson will join Derrick Favors of Atlanta, Dominic Cheek of St. Anthony and Dexter Strickland of St. Patrick at the adidas Basketball Experience in Dallas, which runs Aug. 7-12.
College coaches are not permitted, but NBA scouts will be there. It will be interesting to see what they think of the players, including Stephenson.
After that, Lance will put on another show in his hometown when he competes in the Boost Mobile Elite 24 Event at Rucker Park on Aug. 22. He was named Co-MVP of the event last year after dropping 36 points.
As for college, who knows where this things ends up…it’s looking like it could be a repeat of the Tyreke Evans Saga all over again.
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.