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, Lincoln Come Up Short on ESPN; Born Ready Says He'll Attend College
With Kansas head coach Bill Self looking on courtside, Lance Stephenson scored a game-high 32 points but the Lincoln Railsplitters came up on the losing end, 77-57, against Duncanville (Texas) in the Old Spice Classic on ESPN.
After repeatedly powering his way to the basket and also showing his long-range shooting skills by draining a 3-pointer from two feet behind the line, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Stephenson was named MVP of the game upon making 13 of 21 from the field. He entered averaging 34.3 points per game.
“He’s got the God-given body, and he’s blessed with quickness to go with it,” Duncanville coach Phil McNeelytold the Dallas Morning News prior to the game. “That’s a deadly combination.”
Coach Self sat courtside with a Diet Coke. Stephenson says he is considering Kansas, Memphis, USC and St. John’s, and Self is clearly interested. Stephenson told the Star-Telegram he intended to attend college and not play overseas like Brandon Jennings.
“That’s not an option,” Stephenson said. “I’m just taking my time, and I will decide after the season in April.”
Stephenson’s parents, Bernadette and Stretch, were in the stands and the Lincoln coaches all looked very sharp in their dark blazers and crisp blue shirts.
Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford and assistant Butch Pierre were also on hand watching future Cowboys Roger Franklin and Reger Dowell of Duncanville. Baylor coach Scott Drew was in the house to watch Perry Jones, a 6-10 junior power forward committed to Baylor.
Lincoln guard Darwin “Buddha” Ellis also played well.
Lincoln (3-1) lost its first game, while Duncanville improved to 7-2
Lincoln, No. 6 in the ESPN Rise Fab 50, overcame a 20-4 deficit to take 36-35 halftime lead on No. 10 Duncanville behind 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting from Stephenson.
Shawn Williams had 10 points for Duncanville at the break and Franklin and Julian Washburn scored eight each.
“[Lance] is a kid who can put the ball in the basket,” Lincoln coach Dwayne “Tiny” Morton told the Dallas Morning News.
“Lance is very aggressive on the court. I think a lot coaches would love to have a kid who could put ball in the hole the way he does.”
Duncanville outscored the Railsplitters 42-21 in the second half.
ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes summed it up pretty well at halftime when talking about Lance.
“Every coach in the country will tell you he’s as talented as anybody in the Class of ’09,” he said. “Part of the question mark you have about Stephenson if you’re a college coach evaluating him is, How does he fit into a team setting? Sometimes a little bit selfish, maybe a little bit lackadaisical in his approach to the game.
“[Davidson coach] Bob McKillop tried to get it out of him for that USA Under 18 team. He couldn’t do it. Therefore [Lance] got cut.
“But there’s no question about it. That kid is as an elite a talent as there is in the Class of ’09. He’s big-time.”
STARTING FIVES (COURTESY DALLAS MORNING NEWS)DUNCANVILLE
Shawn Williams, 6-7, G/F, Sr.
Perry Jones, 6-11, C, Sr.
Reger Dowell, 6-1, G, Sr.
Julian Washburn, 6-7, F, Jr.
Roger Franklin, 6-5, F, Sr.
Lance Stephenson, 6-6, G/F, Sr.
Shaquille Stokes, 6-0, PG, So.
Darwin Ellis, 5-8, G, Sr.
Davon Walls, 6-6, F, Sr.
James Padgett, 6-8, C, Sr.
Neither Kentucky signee Daniel Orton of Bishop McGuinness nor Memphis commit Xavier Henry of PUtnam (Ok.) City played in the first game between because of injury…Lincoln will appear on ESPN at least twice more this year…Three of the top 10 teams in the ESPN Rise poll are from the metropolitan area….No. 3 St. Patrick, No. 4 St. Benedict’s and No. 7 Lincoln.
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.