Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Update on . . . Lance Stephenson- A Father's Perspective

Lance Stephenson has been the talk of America in the high school basketball world for quite some time. The class of 2009 6'6 superstar swingman at Lincoln (NY) has been talked about in New York City for much longer though. Yet even before the NYC circle began to discuss Stephenson, his father saw something in him. Lance Stephenson, Sr. has seen his son progress from a youngster all the way to one of the best players in America. I spoke with Mr. Stephenson at the Steve Nash Skills Academy, where he was taking in the action.

NB: What schools [are] Lance really considering?
LS: UCLA, Kansas, USC, and St. John’s . . . [and] Memphis.

NB: What do you think Lance needs to work on the most?
LS: A little bit of everything. He has an all-around game, . . . so he’s got to keep brushing up on everything, all his tools. . . . It’s not that one thing that I can say he needs to work on, just everything, just keep getting better.

NB: What do you see as the strongest point in his game?
LS: His strength, his agility, he’s real quick, he [has] got good lateral movement, he’s explosive, he’s got the complete package right now.

NB: What do you think helped him get to where he is right now? Other than just having the natural ability.
LS: Just working out, [a] lot of push-ups. . . . It’s a little bit of a mix of everything, natural ability, a lot of hard work, push-ups, pull-ups, dips, . . . a whole lot of advice, information, so he [has] known how to make the right plays from an early age.

NB: When Lance was young, did you see him having the potential to be such a talented player?
LS: Yes, yeah, from day one, I knew that he was going to be a real talented player, just like my other son.

NB: Other than you two, who’s going to be involved in the decision process for college?
LS: My wife, that’s about it. . . . His high school coach [Dwayne “Tiny” Morton of Lincoln (NY)] has a little bit on influence as well.

NB: Is Lance going to eventually make the final decision, or is it just going to be a group choice?
LS: I would say he [is] going to make the final decision. We [are] just going to give him all the information and let him decide what he wants to do.

NB: Is there a school . . . that you favor, that you think Lance should go to right now?
LS: Right now my favorite school is UCLA.

NB: What makes the Bruins standout to you?
LS: Well, the tradition, the conference, the style of play, they let the guards play pretty free.

NB: If not for the NBA age limit, would Lance be going pro next year?
LS: I think if you asked me that question . . . when that times [I would have a better idea], but an educated guess, I would say ‘yeah,’ he’s definitely got all the skills, and after looking at [Thursday’s NBA] Draft, all of those kids, all of the freshman that went, he’s playing against or with before, so we pretty much know some of the good players.

NB: You mentioned all the freshmen. Do you think Lance is a lock to be a one-and-done [player in college]?
LS: No, nothing is a lock, . . . he got to play the games. I wouldn’t say he’s a lock, he still has a lot of work to do.

NB: With all the attention that he’s been receiving since eighth grade, do you ever see it getting to him, kind of . . . bringing him down a little bit, having all that focus on him?
LS: No, nothing [is] bringing him down, he’s still rising. Heading into his senior year he has a lot . . . of accomplishments that he’s already done, wining three [New York] City [championships], two state [championships]. He’s still rising, next year I think will be the icing on the cake.

NB: What are you most proud of Lance for?
LS: Just staying with it, and really not folding, he’s kept the same . . . demeanor all the way through . . . high school. He’s kept the same demeanor, he hasn’t let the media change his game, he still has his attitude, he still has his . . . aggressiveness, and that’s really what I’m most proud of him [for]. He designed his game, and he’s sticking with it.

NB: What [are you most proud of him for] . . . outside of basketball?
LS: What am I most proud of him . . . [for] outside of basketball? I’m proud that he’s my son. I’m proud that he’s healthy. I’m proud that he’s [a] pretty good student in school.

NB: What are Lance’s plans for July during the evaluation period?
LS: He’ll be trying out for the USA . . . 18 and Under team.

The younger Lance Stephenson was by far the most impressive player at the Steve Nash Skills Academy. His play in the five-on-five scrimmage to end the event was fantastic. Lance's father certainly knows of the talent and potential that his son possesses. He definitely is proud of Lance's game, and he should be, as Lance is one of the best player in the United States. I'll make sure that I keep you updated on how things are moving along for the younger Lance Stephenson.

Scouting Report on Stephenson:

Lance Stephenson may well be the best player in America. He has a fantastic all-around game. The Lincoln (NY) stud is even talented enough that his teammates deferred to him at the Steve Nash Skills Academy to run the point in the scrimmage, despite being the only non-point guard on his team. Stephenson '09, a 6'6 swingman, can shoot the rock, with range that extends out to the three-point line. Lance can also get to the hole and has a solid handle. He is a spectacular athlete with great hops, and well-chiseled frame. The NYC phenom seems to have a good work ethic, as he chose to shoot around during the water break in the scrimmage at the Nash Academy. At times, Stephenson can be a bit too flashy. As well, his attitude is something that he needs to work on. He gets frustrated with lesser teammates when they make mistakes and is a bit cocky. Yet, that may well be from being "the man" in the Big Apple for so long. A change of scenery for college may be quite helpful for the gifted ballplayer. Attitude aside, Lance might have the most complete game of anyone in America, including graduating seniors from the class of 2008. Lance Stephenson is the real deal.

Note- photo is from http://scouthoops.scout.com/


Anonymous said...

UCLA (and Ben Howland) is an obvious match for Lance. Howland has taken many lesser talents and turned them into first rounders and lottery picks. In fact Lance would be the most talented player Ben ever recruited with the possible exception of Jrue Holiday. If Howland can make Westbrook the number 4 pick as a sophmore (an unrecruited guard until late in his HS senior year) then Lance is a top 5 lock after one or two years.

Bottom line is that the NBA likes Howland coached players; Which means big dollars for those lucky few.

Mark B. (Dallas, Texas)

Anonymous said...

Lance Stephenson looks to be a great prospect for any school. The media attention that he'll get at UCLA is second to none. If there is an offer still available at UCLA, he should take it.

North Star Basketball said...

Time will tell where Lance ends up, but UCLA is a strong possibility.