'Born Ready' Drops Past Knicks to Pacers | Zagsblog
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Monday / May 27.
  • ‘Born Ready’ Drops Past Knicks to Pacers

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    NEW YORK — If Lance Stephenson is ‘Born Ready’ for the NBA, he’ll have to prove it in Indiana, not New York.

    The Knicks opted not to select the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Stephenson with the No. 38 and 39 picks in the second round of the NBA Draft, and the Pacers then grabbed him at No. 40.

    New York selected Syracuse shooting guard Andy Rautins and Stanford forward Landry Fields with their two picks, opting to skip the Brooklyn native known as “Born Ready.” Stephenson held a draft party at the Paramount Hotel in Manhattan did not attend the draft.

    “This is a night I’ve dreamed of since I was a little boy and I got my family here to support me,” Stephenson told ESPNNewYork.com. “I am just happy. This day came fast. There is a lot of relief. I’ve wanted to be in the NBA since I was a little boy. I’m very motivated. Can’t even explain how motivated I am.”

    Stephenson said he was looking forward to playing with Pacers star Danny Granger. The Pacers also drafted Fresno State star Paul George with the No. 10 pick.

    “It is great to have Indiana pick me up,” Stephenson told ESPNNewYork.com. “I think I fit in great. Danny Granger is a great player and they got players that are good so I am going to try and fit in and try to be a team player.”

    Stephenson worked out for 10 teams, including Indiana and the Knicks. He led Lincoln High School to four PSAL titles at Madison Square Garden from 2006-9 and said he wanted to play for the Knicks during a June 19 workout.

    “I thought they [the Knicks] were going to pick me but I am just happy the Pacers picked me,” Stephenson told ESPNNewYork.com. “I am going to try to be on the team and try to be a better player and try to fit in with the program.

    Stephenson’s agent, Alberto Ebanks, said then he believed his client deserved to go in the first round.

    “I don’t think there are 30 players better than him in this year’s draft,” Ebanks said.

    First-round picks get guaranteed money, which is critical for Stephenson, who has a young daughter, Liara.

    “The obvious difference is guaranteed money,” Ebanks said. “We’re not really worrying about the outcome. We’re worried about the process and making sure that we’ve done everything that we can to go as high as possible. And I think that come draft day a few people will be surprised.”

    The all-time leading scorer in New York State history, Stephenson spent one season at Cincinnati and was named Big East Rookie of the Year after averaging 12.3 points and 5.4 rebounds.

    “I know that playing in the NBA has been a lifelong goal for Lance and our entire program is excited for him and his family,” said Bearcats coach Mick Cronin. “I thank Lance for his efforts at Cincinnati and want him to know how much we appreciate his loyalty to us. I personally look forward to watching Lance grow and develop as a professional and as a man.”

    There is no denying Stephenson’s off-the-court history.

    He got into a fight with a high school teammate and was suspended for two games.

    Two summers ago, he was cut from the U.S. U18 team by head coach Bob McKillop of Davidson over concerns about his attitude and ability to play within the team concept.

    And he pleaded guilty last July to disorderly conduct and agreed to perform three days of community service after being charged with misdemeanor sexual assault for allegedly groping a 17-year-old girl outside of Lincoln High.

    “He had a very clean record this year,” one Eastern Conference NBA scout said. “He was the scholar athlete of the year at Cincinnati on the basketball team.

    “He had no incidents, no problems, no bad body language. He was clean. A lot of people feel he’s growing up, he’s maturing.”

    Nicknamed “Born Ready,” he believes he is ready for the NBA.

    “I’m ‘Born Ready’ for any competition, anything on the next-level stage, or any stage. So I like that name and I’m going to live up to it,” Stephenson said June 19.

    Asked if he was ‘Born Ready’ to step into the NBA,” Stephenson added, “Of course.”

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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.

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