Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rejected: Get That Lance Outta Here!


There are still those around certain circles that think John Calipari might use the scholarship vacated by NBA-bound Jodie Meeks to recruit Lance Stephenson. Stephenson is a New York high school legend and is the only top 100 player in the nation that remains uncommitted. He ranks #11 on the Rivals150 List for 2009 and many feel that he should be higher.

"Lance is the most talented player in high school ball, maybe the most talented player in college ball...right now," says one Big East assistant. "But all the (stuff) that comes with him … is crazy."

Let's examine that last statement carefully. What is all the stuff that comes with Stephenson?

An article on NYDailyNews.com examines some of the "baggage" that seems to have major college basketball teams running as far away from Stephenson as they can get. The article looks at the following factors:

- Stephenson's father: When Lance Stephenson is playing, you know exactly where Lance Stephenson Sr. is at all times. It's not his hulking frame that gives him away; it's his mouth. Whether he's antagonizing opposing players from the stands, cheering on his son or yelling about how Lincoln High coach Dwayne (Tiny) Morton is using Stephenson during a game, Stephenson Sr. usually has something to say.

One assistant coach states, "If it wasn't for his father, I think Lance might have picked a school by now."

- Legal issues with the sexual assault charges: One of the first questions some college coaches ask about Stephenson is: "What's the status of the case?"

"It's so much of the unknown," says one college assistant, referring to the multitude of questions surrounding Stephenson, including the sexual assault case in which he was charged with groping a 17-year-old girl last October. "It's so late that if something happens you run the risk of the kid not being able to play."

- Eligibility issues: A reality television series. A recruiting-trip rendezvous to a sneaker company warehouse. A high school transcript.

All three have been sources of consternation for college coaches recruiting Stephenson. All three have the potential to threaten Stephenson's college eligibility. And all three could leave the school that takes Stephenson open to an NCAA investigation — a Pandora's Box most programs would rather avoid.

"You don't want to deal with a kid in June and then there could be a clearinghouse situation. You don't want to deal with that over the summer," says one college assistant familiar with Stephenson's recruitment.

- His attitude in general: Lance Stephenson's NBA-ready body and natural scoring ability have left college coaches salivating, but that hasn't compensated for the perception that he's selfish, a "prima donna" according to one Big East assistant.

"With Lance Stephenson," the coach says, "it's always ‘Me, me, me.'"

Where does he end up?

All things considered, the major schools are not willing to take a risk on Stephenson. Adam Zagoria at ZagsBlog.com says: "At this point, Florida, Kansas, Maryland and St. John’s have all bowed out. Arizona may or may not still be in it, and Memphis is interested but hasn’t been in direct contact of late."

An online poll on Zagoria's site (see image) finds that most people believe Stephenson will still end up at Memphis. A large percentage thinks that Europe is a good possibility. One choice that isn't on the poll - the Kentucky Wildcats.

My Thoughts:

Lance Stephenson will not be a Kentucky Wildcat. For me, it is a major statement to say, "Hey, we'd rather NOT use a scholarship as to give it to the #11 player in the 2009 class." That statement tells me all that I need to know about Lance Stephenson.

Article from NYDailyNews.com

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