Highly touted recruit Lance Stephenson has been under the gun early during his freshman campaign. The 6’5 freshman swingman from Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, New York has great skills and the ability to score from anyway on the floor. Stephenson finished high school as the state of New York’s all-time leading scorer with 2,946 points breaking the record of NBA player Sebastian Telfair.
Criticism has been coming from people in the media about the talent of the highly recruited freshman. Questions such as his ability to move without the ball, his level of focus, his ability to consistently play hard, and the question of what position does he really fit, forward or guard? Another basketball analyst question if he was a top 50 recruit with what they were seeing currently.
The first thing, Stephenson has played three collegiate games, so it is way too soon to over react to the situation. In those games Stephenson as averaged 10.3 points, 4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1 steal, not to bad for averaging about 27 minutes a game of playing time.
Let’s look at a comparison for another highly touted freshman, from a year ago who had a great freshman season and compare him to Lance Stephenson. Player A of the Memphis Tigers who played for Coach John Calipari received the same kind of negative press in his first week or two of his freshman year as being a tweener and not knowing what position he played.
When the Tigers visited the Puerto Rico Tip-off last season, Player A, a freshman averaged 11.6 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 turnovers in about 23 minutes a game. Player A was also 11-46 from the field, which is just 23.9 percent, and 1-11 from three point range which is nine percent. Once Calipari and the Tigers figured out how to use Player A in the offense and he relaxed he finished his freshman season averaging 17.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.9 assists and shot over 45 percent from the field.
That Player is 6’6 guard Tyreke Evans who was the fourth pick of the 2009 NBA Draft, selected by the Sacramento Kings.
Stephenson has those same abilities, at 6-foot-5, he’s long, athletic, and has the ability to create off the dribble to go with a soft touch around the rim. Bearcat fans stay calm and you will see the ability of Stephenson show as he becomes more relaxed and used more in the Cincinnati attacking offense. Not to mention that Mick Cronin will get the best out of Stephenson as he demands players to play hard, with the depth he has on this Cincinnati team this year.