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.
NEW YORK —UNLV had just beaten Temple Saturday night in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Barclays Center and Lori Stevens was already texting words of congratulations to assistant coaches Ryan Miller and Todd Simon.
That is significant, of course, because Stevens is the mother of Stephen Zimmerman, the 7-footer from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman who took his last official visit to UNLV last weekend.
“Great visit, we had a lot of fun,” Stevens told SNY.tv. “It was kind of last minute and they did an amazing job.”
Stevens attended UNLV with head coach Dave Rice and said the visit was more like spending time with old friends.
“I know one that thing that over dinner at Coach Rice’s house on Saturday, we all were sitting around and they asked how it compared to other visits,” she said. “It was hard to say because it was so different because Dave and I went to school together. We were both members of the Class of ’91 at UNLV. Ryan and I have know each other for years. Todd Simon I’ve known from Findlay [Prep]. So it’s more like hanging out with your buddies all weekend than how it felt at other visits. It was fun, Stephen had a great time. They were able to pull out wins at both of the games that we watched.”
Rice, of course, is the brother of Zimmerman’s high school coach, Grant Rice.
“Coach Rice has a difficult position in that his brother is our high school coach so he wanted to get it across to Stephen that he is a different coach than his brother and that it’s a whole new game at the college level,” Stevens said. “He really tried to get it through to Stephen how much of being a home town kid, staying home and building your legacy where you grew up is important to people and how important he could be to this town if he stayed home. He really, you know, that was his main focus. UNLV was, at one time, at an elite level. How great would it be that a home town kid could bring UNLV back to that level.”
UNLV has a lot of young talent, including freshmen Rashad Vaughn, Dwayne Morgan and Goodluck Okonoboh, as well a sophomore Christian Wood, who impressed NBA scouts with a double-double Saturday night.
Next year they already have Derrick Jones and Jalen Poyser coming, and their message to Zimmerman was fairly simple.
“They keep saying that he, out of all the college choices that he has, he could really be the difference maker here at home,” Stevens said. “Where, if you go to Kansas you’re kind of another great kid that went to Kansas. Same thing if you go to Kentucky, you’re just another great kid that went to Kentucky. UNLV’s whole thing is based around you would be the difference maker here. You would be the hometown hero.”
Zimmerman is also considering Arizona, UCLA, Kentucky and Kansas. One source close to the situation said Kansas, UNLV and UCLA were leading the way.
North Carolina, Indiana and Notre Dame are all out.
“I think that, at this time, we were really honored that all three of them were recruiting us, but they are not currently being considered,” Stevens said.
Whatever the case, Zimmerman doesn’t plan to commit until February or March and won’t sign an NLI when he does.
“I think that he’s going to take his time and get through his season and watch some games and see who’s doing well, who’s developing, who’s not, what changes are made,” Stevens said. “And just kind of observe until maybe March. Then I am hoping that something clicks and he knows where he wants to go.”
Meantime, Zimmerman and Bishop Gorman open the season Saturday against Ivan Rabb and Bishop O’Dowd. Rabb himself is considering several of the same schools as Zimmerman, including Kentucky, Kansas, Arizona and UCLA, along with hometown Cal, which he said was in his top three.
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.