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The curious case of Lance Stephenson


Slam Mag

Adam Zagoria, recruiting guru and proprietor of the excellent Zagsblog, posted a lengthy article over the weekend concerning the recruitment of Lance Stephenson. It’s an interesting read, and comes from Zagoria’s perspective as someone who operates in Stephenson’s New York stomping ground and is very familiar with the situation surrounding “Born Ready,” which is one of the most unique recruitments we have seen in some time.

It seems that, at one time or another, every school has been interested in Stephenson or vice versa. As Beisner told you a few weeks ago, one of the schools that’s gotten in the game for Stephenson’s services lately is Florida. That doesn’t seem to have changed, as Stephenson listed the Gators along with longtime suitor Maryland and presumed favorites Memphis and Arizona, although the latest Coney Island star did not identify a favorite when he and his father spoke with Zagoria.

I admit to being fascinated by Stephenson’s recruitment. I can’t remember a player whose courtship has involved so many layers or about whom more people have formed strong opinions. There is potentially serious legal trouble in the form of a pending sexual assault case, a presumed supersized ego and me-first attitude, and questions about his eligibility all keeping schools at arm’s length despite Stephenson being maybe the most talented player in the 2009 class that isn’t heading to Lexington. All the while, bloggers and writers and message board experts have labeled Stephenson as the epitome of everything that’s wrong with today’s young athletes.

With even heavy hitters like the Washington Post recently publishing articles critical of Stephenson’s recruitment, the player’s father (Lance, Sr.) believes the media, once friendly to the self-promoting superstar, has turned on his son of late. Zagoria agrees to an extent, and I confess to wondering if the kid can possibly be as bad as most people believe him to be, although the off-court issues certainly mean any school taking in Stephenson is taking on the risk of being sucked into the negative press surrounding him.

It is no surprise, then, that the schools recruiting “Born Ready” are in desperate situations, whether by early defection, a coaching change or Gary Williams’ quest to make another run before he hangs it up. If Stephenson will even end up on a college campus is still very much a question, but any campus that accepts him knows that if everything goes according to plan, he makes them a legitimate team with an NBA first-rounder. If things don’t go to plan, the schools face the chance of Lance’s legal troubles haunting them, playing an ineligible player and risking violations or, perhaps even worse, seeing their public perception crumble before their eyes as the media (if they ever stop writing about Coach Calipari) will be quick to pounce on even the smallest hint of trouble with Stephenson and tie it to the program he chooses.

In some ways, the Stephenson case is an indictment on the NBA age rule, as in years past he would have taken his game straight to the league and saved some coach a few squirming answers at a press conference. Instead, someone will sign him and have to call him “a great guy” and “the type of player we want at Fingers Crossed University” and hope history will prove them right. Until then, coaches will continue to dance tiptoed around one of the most talented players in the class in what has become an illustration of what can go so horribly wrong in the recruitment of today’s top players. Stephenson’s propensity for self-promotion served its purpose in making sure everyone knows his name, but the hype is costing him now as the name everyone knows gets dragged through the mud almost daily. We can only hope that this serves as a lesson to the next kid who wants to be a megastar before he hits college, that maybe they’ll realize that hype has diminishing returns and can do much more harm than good. I suspect that handlers and AAU coaches and the like will make sure the lesson isn’t learned, unfortunately.

Now you can call me crazy, and you wouldn’t be the first, but I want “Born Ready” in Gainesville. Knowing that the Wall-Stephenson matchups would be two of the most talked about of the year, that it will deflect a little negative press from the Cats, and that it could lead to everything crashing around Billy Donovan’s feet in the end is too much for me to hope he lands anywhere else. I mean, if things are going to get hairy for somebody, it might as well be somebody we can enjoy watching falter, right? Yay schadenfreude! And yes, I did just write a potentially pointless 800-word post on a kid that Kentucky isn’t even recruiting. It’s gonna be a slow week. What? You’re mad at me now? Well here…watch one of my favorite Seinfeld scenes. There there. That’s better.

Article written by Hunter Campbell

20 responses to “The curious case of Lance Stephenson”

  1. Assassin Number 2

    I’m on fire!

  2. i love trannies

    Too long.

    Cliffs?

  3. Tavin_Dillard

    2) Go to Maggard’s site if you want sentence-long articles.

  4. SaveUK

    I want Stephenson to go to UF as well, so the NCAA is investigating
    UF in a couple of years

  5. TOMPAV83

    I like how when this Derrick Rose thing popped up, all the articles(not having to do with Calipari) started flowing blaming the NBA and their one-and-done rule. They usually say something to the effect of “high school studs are being forced to cheat to get into college for a year, instead of just making the jump to the NBA”. Wasn’t it like 2 months ago when everyone was clammoring over Louisville’s star recruit and Brandon Jennings going to play Euro-Pro ball? Wasn’t everyone worried about that being the “new trend”? Isn’t that an option(other than cheating) that those who can’t get into college can take?

  6. payne

    It is fun how you can change a few words and make this article work for the UK situation with Calipari. The media makes him out to be a bad egg, a desperate school takes a shot at him knowing that if “everything goes according to plan, he makes them a legitimate team” with a shot at the championship, but if things don’t go to plan the school faces “legal troubles haunting them, playing an ineligible player and risking violations or, perhaps even worse, seeing their public perception crumble before their eyes as the media will be quick to pounce on even the smallest hint of trouble with [Calipari] and tie it to the program.”

    See how much fun that was!

  7. Thomas Beisner

    Or Lane Kiffin.

  8. Flop

    Please let Stephenson commit to a school the media cares enough about to spend all summer bashing.

    Florida looks like the only one on his list that fits the bill. Memphis and Zona have “new coaches that get a pass” and no one gives a crap about Gary Williams anymore.

    Go to Florida, Lance. We’ll still beat them twice and you can move the heat over to another “italian slimeball” for a while.

  9. SaveUK

    Lets just be glad the media is hating us because we are going to be good
    instead of laughing at us because we suck!

  10. UKhoopshysteria

    If Lance goes to Florida the only story the will break in two years will be how Billy D gave him a new lease on life. I know Stephenson wreaks of NCAA violations but I can just see the media portraying the situation in a pro Fl manner. Having saif that I don’t believe Stephenson will go to Fl, he will be attending the Memphis b/c they have nothing to lose….what are they going to do investigate them.

  11. Beatle Bum

    Just ask’n, why would the NBA be anxious to sign a kid who has such a troubled past? If players stock will drop on the college leve, think that some GM doesn’t have the same concerns. Not sure that I agree that this is a product of the NBA age/college rule.

  12. mattscats

    Honestly, that might be one of the greatest episodes in all of sitcom history.

  13. ChicagoWildcat

    I find he Stephenson situation fascinating too. The media may be too overly against him now, but it says a lot when two of the top programs (UK and KU) want nothing to do with you. It says a lot when Coach Cal, who has no problem recruiting “one-and-dones”, indirectly hints that you are a “taker”. You are right Hunter, this kid is exactly the type of chemistry killer that Fla needs next year without a legit point guard. Although he likely takes them to the NCAAs it will be a short trip.

    I’m kinda thinking these days that all this hoopla will end up being good for CBB though. Between Mayo, Rose, Dozier, Stephenson, and Wall (let’s face it guys, he is an incredible talent and hopefully a great leader that will not kill chemistry, but he is out to “get his”), the whole situation may lead the NCAA to reconsider it’s one year rule. I used to kind of like the rule, but a mere 5 years in its already beginning to show bad bad bad signs. I’m more inclined to agree with Dickie V’s idea of a rule: You can go to the NBA straight out of high school. IF you go to college, you have to be there for three years. I might say change that to 2.5 years a la the NFL for kids that need to go to prep school etc., but such a rule change will make the agents and other bad influences back off a bit on these kids that arent going straight to the NBA.

  14. BigCatDaddy4263

    I don’t give a crap where he goes. I don’t think that he will attend Memphis because of their current problems and they don’t want the NCAA looking at them again. I can see him attending Florida because of Billy D. and that will be a great match up between Wall and he

  15. BJ

    Elaine is smokin’ hot.

  16. ransmith

    I would like to see him at any SEC school because it will make us playing them harder, make the SEC as a whole stronger. Florida would be a good one, but I might prefer MSU over them. You add him to MUS’s front court, and they would be a hard team to play! Florida, I mean sure, his talents would give them a big boost, make their back court one of the best in the SEC.

    But I certainly do not want him at another SEC to get them into trouble.

  17. UK IS MY LIFE

    I agree 11 probably the funniest sitcom episode of all time besides any Threes Company episode.

  18. payne

    7- You’ve got way more faith in Kiffin than I do if you think he makes them an instant contender. All the other stuff, touche.

  19. jreeves5319

    This kid is the definition of a me-first guy, a primadonna, a chemistry killer, even a bad seed.

    A Starbury in the making.

    Hell if Coach Cal calls him a taker and apparently doesn’t care that you’ve cheated on the SAT…that’s saying something.

    I’ve been having the most ridiculous nerd fight on zagsblog with this one idiot. Some guy is on there and says I need to know the context of all the events surrounding Lance before I can pass judgment, because the media misconstrues everything.

    What more is there to know?

    He’s been in a fight with a teammate — who was sent to the hospital.

    He has an illegitimate daughter — whom he has called an “off the court issue.”

    He routinely gets in fights/quarrels with teammates and refs. In fact, he was cussing at the refs in the McDonalds All American game. Seriously, who does that?

    And finally, he’s been charged with groping and feeling up a minor.

    Whether he’s proven guilty or not, I think all of it is enough to say that — yes, this kid has some attitude and responsibility issues.

    Right now, I see him as cancer, hopefully he improves…

    I’m just glad he’s not coming to UK.

  20. BigBlueBoner

    “You drugged a girl to play with her toys?” haha awesome