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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Brooklyn’s Lance Stephenson was named the Big East Preseason Rookie of the Year, and Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin says Stephenson is on track to win that award.
The 6-foot-5 Stephenson, New York State’s all-time leading scorer, is averaging a team-best 12.2 points and 4.8 rebounds for the Bearcats (13-7, 4-4 Big East).
“He’s had a good year,” Cronin said. “I think for a freshman he’s had a great year. You can’t compare people to John Wall or Michael Beasley but Lance has had a very good year. I’d probably say if the voting were taken right now he’d probably be Freshman of the Year in the Big East. You can’t live up to ridiculous expectations that other people set forth for you.”
Stephenson may or may not head to the NBA after on season, perhaps depending on the feedback he gets from NBA scouts and GMs.
In the meantime, Cronin said he and his staff were still working with Stephenson to develop various aspects of his game.
“I think he struggled shooting the ball from the perimeter at times,” he said. “He seemed to correct that at Louisville [scoring 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting] and he’s working hard on it. Just learning how to play off the ball is something he’s worked hard on. As a coaching staff we’ve tried to get him to where he can get some easy baskets and moving without the basketball.”
Fellow freshman Sean Kilpatrick, a White Plains, N.Y. native, was one of the reasons Stephenson came to Cincinnati in the first place.
But Cronin opted to redshirt the 6-5 shooting guard because he wouldn’t have gotten much playing time behind senior Deonta Vaughn.
“I wish I was out there helping my team, but I feel it’ll help me in the long run,” Kilpatrick, who averaged 25.6 points as a senior at White Plain High, told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Kilpatrick picked Cincinnati over Providence, the team the Bearcats face Saturday. Kilpatrick surely would’ve liked the chance to face the Friars, but he’ll have to wait until next year.
“With all these perimeter guys, I didn’t want him to waste a year,” Cronin told the Enquirer. “A guy told me a long time ago that if you can redshirt a good player, it’s really going to help you down the road.”
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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.