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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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Tuesday / December 12.
  • St. John's Officially Out of Lance Sweepstakes

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    St. John’s recruited Lance Stephenson as hard as it could for several years, dreaming that the Coney Island native would someday light up the Madison Square Garden scoreboard and the New York fans in the process.

    But now, barring a dramatic turn of events, Stephenson will never play for the Red Storm.

    “We are totally out. Not pursuing [him] anymore,” a source within the St. John’s program said.

    Johnnies head coach Norm Roberts and assistant Fred Quartlebaum attended many of Stephenson’s Lincoln High School games, visited the family for in-home visits and recently had “Born Ready” on campus for an official visit.

    Stephenson always played well at the Garden, winning four straight PSAL city titles there and saying he could help make St. John’s significantly better.

    Yet Stephenson ultimately ruled out St. John’s and Maryland, according to sources.

    Perhaps he simply doesn’t want to stay home for college. Perhaps he wants to go to a program that’s an established winner.

    All understandable reasons, to be sure.

    Now the Johnnies have ruled out Lance.

    Where Stephenson, the all-time leading scorer in New York State history and a McDonald’s All-American, ends up is anybody’s guess.

    He was set to announce for Kansas on March 31 at the McDonald’s All-American Game but held off. When the Jayhawks landed shooting guard Xavier Henry, Stephenson became expendable.

    Memphis and Arizona appear to be the leading candidates now, but Stephenson has not visited either campus. The late signing period ends May 20.

    “I think by the end of the week they’ll make up their mind between Arizona and Memphis,” a source said earlier this week.

    As for St. John’s, Roberts and his staff will likely take some heat for failing to keep another New York City star at home. A year ago, Sylven Landesberg of Queens Holy Cross left the city for Virginia after keeping St. John’s and Georgia Tech on his final list.

    Other New York-area stars — Kevin Parrom (Arizona), Durand Scott (Miami) and James Padgett (Maryland) in the Class of 2009, Truck Bryant, Devin Ebanks and Kevin Jones (all of whom went to West Virginia) in the Class of 2008 — have also gone elsewhere in the last two years.

    “Sometimes you have the city kids say, ‘I’m sick of living in the city, I want to go somewhere else.’ And that’s what happens,” Roberts said last fall. “What we’ve got to do, is get the guys that are the best, the guys that want to stay home, that want to be here and make them as good as they can possibly be.”

    St. John’s did land Omari Lawrence of South Kent (Conn.) and Long Island native Malik Stith to next year’s team.

    With the addition of those players and shooting guard Dwight Hardy to a core that includes Anthony Mason, Jr., Paris Horne, Malik Boothe and D.J. Kennedy, St. John’s could make strides in what will be a weaker Big East.

    “With the players they have coming back and me and Omari coming in, that’s what St. John’s needed to get back over the hump and  be in the race for the conference championship,” Stith said.

    “I like my team right now,” Roberts added.

    Unfortunately for Johnnies fans, that team won’t include Lance Stephenson.

    Written by

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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.

    • ARIZONA—>>>>FROM THE EAST COAST TO THE SOUTHWEST IS HIS BEST BET.

      WITH LANCE GOING TO THE ARIZONA WILDCATS, THE PAC-10 BETTER LOOK

      OUT. A PROGRAM THAT HAS PRODUCED TOP COLLEGE AND NBA PLAYERS IS

      IN ALL TO WELCOME LANCE STEPHENSON.

      BEAR DOWN ARIZONA!!!!!

    • Seriously? Arizona is his best bet. Going to a school that has overly recruited his position? Going to a school with a slow down, beat ’em up offense (that is what Miller is known for)? Stephenson needs to come to Memphis. He will be the main man, without doubt. He will get to play in an NBA arena (although that probably doesn’t mean a whole lot to him, since he passed on playing in the Garden). He will get to play in an up-tempo offense that will really allow him to showcase his skills. He will be able to train under an assistant coach (Jack Murphy) that has trained and received many compliments from big time NBA players (Iverson, Anthony, etc). He will make Memphis a legitimate top 15, if not top 10, team. COME TO MEMPHIS, LANCE.

      • chattown Tiger, you have no idea what the hell you are talking about and perhaps have not been paying attention to the style of basketball that Sean Miller’s teams run, because slow down is not in it! That was one of the criteria when looking for a head coach was, when the athletic director was looking to replace the legendary Lute Olson.

        Know your facts before you start writing about things that you do not know!

      • West Coast -LMAO..

        =======

        “But, what is happening at Memphis…..right NOW.
        Are things challenging at Tiger-land?

        Sources are saying that.. Memphis is trying to stay afloat.

        1. Cali leaves and takes some recruits to UK
        2. Henry(s) are gone.
        3. 2009 recruiting class is ONE player.
        4. Simpkins transfers OUT.
        5. Vat Williams was considering Memphis. But, has delayed any choice.
        Looks like I.T. will influence his decision ,away from the Tigers.
        6. T.Evans is turning PRO. Hiring an agent. GONE.

        7. Juco PG will not go to Memphis.
        8. PG-Bledsoe visited Memphis and then visited UK. Announces on Wed.
        (PG-Wall is arrested for B&E. UK was making a push for Wall.)

        9. Memphis and Arizona are mentioned for Lance.
        This maybe the TKO.

        I didn’t even mention the Fed-X folks….”

        Are all of these thing TRUE?

        • Usc trojan-Why are you badmouthing Memphis- let’s talk about USC.

          Sources are saying that…Tim Floyd was going to take the Memphis job but knew he could not leave USC after the OJ Mayo payoff scandal blew up.

          USC is trying to avoid the NCAA hammer….its going to be tough for the Trojans to recruit if they get hit with recruiting violations!! Are all of these things TRUE?

          1. I’m glad Calipari is gone- particularly in the wake of the SAT scandal with Derrick Rose. Similar things happened at UMASS so go figure. Kentucky will see in the end who they have.

          2. 2009 Recruiting class now includes Latavious Williams, Will Coleman, and Martin Ngaloro from Grenoble, France. L. Williams has asked Stephenson to come to Memphis so they can play together. We will see!

          3. Cal kicked Simpkins off the team for drugs.

          4. We now have Josh Pastner as Head Coach, who is already showing himself to be an ELITE level recruiter.

          5. T. Evans was turning pro BEFORE Cal left -everyone in Memphis knew that.

          6. Pastner just landed the #1 SG in the country for 2010- Will Barton and his brother Antonio. Amazing!!

          7. 2009 may not be a stellar year for the Tigers particularly considering everything that has happened, but remember this, Memphis has been to three Elite Eights, a National Championship game, and a Sweet 16 this past year all in the last four years. Memphis has had the longest winning streak of any team in the history of College basketball and that’s playing teams outside of Conference USA.

          8. If we do get Stephenson you will need to fear the TIGERS!!

          Oh, and by the way what has USC done the last four years in college basketball outside of paying players?? So don’t try to marginalize our team when you don’t have the whole story.

      • Seriously Chattown, at least think about it before you comment. Your comment plain out sucked and was completely misinformed. OVERLY RECRUITED? We currently have 2 guys (Parrom & Hill) that are 6-6 and are combo SG/SF but are more suited for SF. Miller plays a fast paced game based on guard play that is very similar to Olson’s, which Josh Pastner will simply implement the Arizona offense (I think the kid would rather play the offense where it was INVENTED!). He will be the main man at Memphis because Memphis doesn’t have a star anymore (Who is your star now? Shawn Taggert>?) Lance would only play second fiddle to Nic Wise —> who would be especially great at getting good looks to other guys, not to mention fill it up. You may have an NBA arena but it can’t measure up to McKale, ever. Do you have as many banner (including a National Championship and four Final Fours) as well as the names Bob Elliot, Sean Elliot , Gilbert Arenas, Steve Kerr, Mike Bibby, Miles Simon, Jason Gardner, Reggie Geary, Andre Iguodala, Richard Jefferson, Kenny Lofton, Khalid Reeves (NY Native), Damon Stoudamire, Salim Stoudamire, and Jason Terry. Match that with your “NBA style arena” Not even close. A big time assistant coach, really? Your head coach, whom I love, has only been an assistant coach! How about the NBA predigree that Arizona has: 43 former players that played in the NBA, not to mention that many of those that went in the first round including two more this year.

    • ChattownTiger,

      its pretty obvious you’ve never watched a Miller coached team play. He’s definitely not a slow down offensive coach. Then again I don’t expect much out of a Conference USA fan….

    • St. John’s is out? That was news? TODAY?

    • OK. why does Zags keep saying MD is out?

      Now I don’t want you Memphis/St. Johns/Arizona fans to start talking out of your @sses. NO DEFINITIVE SOURCE HAS SAID THAT MD IS OUT. No one at the University and no one from Lance’s side (All this crap about “sources close to the situation” is all BS)
      All this is just speculation. MD is most likely not gonna get Lance. Probably 99% not gonna get BR. But what is up with Zags and his little hissy fit against UMD. He seems to constantly try and throw them under the bus.

      FYI. BR is gonna go to Memphis. Arizona doesnt have any schollies. St Johns blows.

      • You are an idiot. Arizona currently has 4 open scholarship due to transfers and early draft entries. Lance can probably have 2 of them if he wants.

      • How does that imply that Arizona is out of the running?

    • So now…

      St Johns – Coaches say they’re not pursuing him.
      Arizona – Coaches aren’t going to make a move on him (Foxsports).
      Kansas – Coach said in press conference he’s done recruiting.
      Europe – Family and Lance said no to that.

      That leaves Memphis and UMD which still want him. And they’re the only schools that actually have scholarships left.

      • word2bigbird,

        If Nic Wise returns, AZ will still only have 10 players on scholarship. That leaves them with 3 more to offer.

        • My bad. I thought I read somewhere they hadn’t.

      • I think that Gary williams is a great coach and one of the best but the knock against him has always been that he is a terrible recruiter who can not go against charismatic head coaches and is losing his pants in his own backyard which is a testament to that fact. For years, other coaches from Duke and North Carolina have gone there with great success!

    • Arizona has a few scholies left for 2009. The only issue for Miller is using one more this year or all for next year. Stephenson is perfect for UA, they’ll let him be a star and get tourney trip #26 and then fill his spot with another top-50 in 2010. Someone needs to replace Budinger’s and Hill’s points. Fingers are crossed in Tuucson that Born Ready is Wildcat Ready.

    • http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/weiss/2009/05/calipari-lands-another-point-g.html

      That guy says that Arizona is out too, idk if he is just repeating what others are saying tho.

      When it comes down to it I think its gonna be Memphis. From that link it seems like Pastner will basically tell Lance that he’ll get to do anything he wants in terms of running the offense just to get him there since they don’t a big time PG.

      Does anyone know the NCAA rules on contacting recruits? Are schools not allowed to make any contact during this period? What was the problem that Calhoon came under trouble for other that agent he used?

      • All the AZ is out rumors come from one Fox article. The same “unnamed sources” have also been indicating that lance is the only player Miller will give a fourth ’09 scholie to.

        • Yea. But I trust Fox sports over a guy with a random blog whose been consistently wrong.

          That said, I am not saying Lance isnt interested in Arizona, everyone seems to say he is, but the fact that it seems that Arizona is going along in its recruiting process indicates that they’re not too worried about landing Lance as much as Memphis is.

          • The same guy who wrote that article was also wrong every time he wrote an article about Arizona’s coaching search, this blog is far more accurate in my opinion and perhaps the most accurate recruiting blog there is. You know that when a newspaper cites a blog, it is consistently accurate.

        • Looks like every day brings a new statement….180 at that.

          The middle Ground will produce a WIN WIN situation.

          This is what I’m reading.
          uahoopscoaching
          wildcatsportsreport.com

          .

    • Lance should worry about finishing out any required testing he needs to have in place before he decides anything else. The schools abusing their admissions to let kids in who are not academically “born-ready” should be ashamed of their schools, nevermind the tax-exempt NCAA, which is the biggest legal racketeering scam going. The way I see it, the NCAA shackles the top players to one year of college for a potential degree that 99% of the top guys never go back to obtain (why should they, they’ll worry about a job later on – I wish they’d listen to Len Elmore more often), cash in on them, pay no taxes on all their revenue, and turn the other way to very weakened academic standards at a lot of the desperate schools which know a successful basketball program is a great, inexpensive way to fund a lot of their other sports.

      Lance and all these other great players should go to Europe, see the world a bit, sign UnderArmour shoe contracts, get more fundamentally sound in a solid European game, and come back “ready” for the pros. He can rule out Europe, but it is the way to go to avoid the crooked NCAA. They get their “Vig” legally – incredible!!!

    • “But what is up with Zags and his little hissy fit against UMD. He seems to constantly try and throw them under the bus.”

      Zags – R U tryin’ to throw the Terps under the bus? Really? It does seem like it to me too. Everytime you quote an unnamed source, do you have their name recorded in your notes for posterity sake, or just in your noggin? Thanks in advance for answering our inquiries!

      PS – Give us your opinion on UMD having so many NBA players and the unsubstantiated Lance quote of the offense being “too structured.” Give me a break, the flex is as good as any offense for blending into an NBA team that actually passes the ball once in awhile! Hah!

    • Maryland was never in the conversation, only Maryland thought that. Stupid.

      • A-Rob,

        Maryland was absolutely in the conversation for awhile; he took a visit and listed them in his top three. Having said that, I saw the writing on the wall two months ago that he wasn’t interested anymore – I had no problem with that. So some of my fellow Terp Fans have remained optimistic – is that a big deal?

    • I wish we could add him here at UK. He reminds me of Tyreke Evans when I watch him play on video.

    • http://www.stjohns.rivals.com/default.asp

      Is St. John’s Still Interested in Lance?

      by Maurice Wingate

      As the recruiting clock winds down to its May 20th deadline, no one but Lance Stephenson and his family knows what he’s going to ultimately do but they’re not talking to the press. Reports have surfaced, inferring that St. John’s is ‘officially out’ when it comes to Stephenson, however that’s not accurate.

      • I think that Adam’s article is much more reliable if he actually has a source FROM THE SCHOOL that says St. John’s is out. That article is simply an opinion based on past trends.

        • Hobo,
          REad between the lines bro! The source is from within the St. John’s basketball program. Get it?

          They can’t comment publicly on a recruit, so a source within the program said it. Get it?

          C’mon bro!

    • Folks,

      I’m not sure what this Rivals story on Lance says (maybe someone can let me know), but I can tell you that my source in the St. John’s basketball program is as good as they come and he says they are no longer recruiting him. It has been a long and frustrating recruiting experience for the Johnnies.

      Numerous other people have told me, the Daily News and other outlets the same thing.

      As for Maryland, I’m not sure why some Terps fans are taking this so personally, but talk to the people down there who know and do the research — Dan Painter, Keith Cavanaugh , etc. — and they will say the same thing.

      See the big picture. Realize who is advising Lance and what they have said about the coach and the program. If you don’t understand the whole picture and haven’t talked to the parties involved, you are whistling in the dark.

      All that said, this thing could go just about anywhere at this point and the outcome of Lance’s court case later this month may also have an impact.

      Adam

      • your probably right, i dont think hes coming to STJ. although we are no longer recruiting him, does not mean lance doesn’t have access to the redstorm revolving door.

      • Adam – peace my friend – I believe you. I think some Terp fans on this blog didn’t like some of the “reasons” being attributed to this kid taking UMD off of his list. Not from you, but from other subscribers.

        The passion is great though, wouldn’t you agree?

    • Good for St. Johns. Personally I think this kid is going to be more trouble then he’s worth for whoever he signs with. I can see him bringing his entourage with him and demanding the ball and crying when he’s not shooting 20 times a game.