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Born ready, turned sour.

The story of Lance Stephenson is one familiar to many. A young star from Coney Island, overexposed at an early age, loses his luster when he needs it most. Stephenson has been followed since his early middle-school days and touted as the best thing to come out of New York since Stephon Marbury.

Sound familiar? It should.

The top of this story could have been used to write a feature on Sebastian Telfair six years ago. Telfair, now on the Minnesota Timberwolves, his third NBA team, recently earned the fourth-place spot in RealClearSports’ list of Top Ten Can’t Miss Prospects Who Missed. His story runs scarily parallel to Stephenson’s, only he fell victim to “the jump” from high school to the NBA. Hopefully a year (or more) in college will send this Coney Island prodigy on the right path.

The New York Post devoted a full-page feature to Stephenson in 2004– he was 13 years old. In it, he boldly stated that his goal was to be the best player in the nation, and an entire city bought into him. He even bragged about his workouts with Marbury and Telfair.

One year later he was center-stage at Adidas’ ABCD camp, the pinnacle of amateur basketball. His showdown with another prodigy, O.J. Mayo, was talked about int he basketball community for months on end.

Some might argue that he peaked there. This was all before he got to high school.

Stephenson started his high school career at Bishop Loughlin Memorial. He quicly left after his team lost in a small tournament and decided to attend Coney Island’s Lincoln, the alma mater of Marbury and Telfair. Legendary coach Dwayne Morton took the young talent under his wing and the Railsplitters went on to win consecutive state titles. Stephenson was named the Daily News Player of the Year in both of those seasons.

ESPN even decided to follow the last two years of his high school career with their online documentary “Born Ready”. They figured that they could capitalize on a player being touted as the next Lebron James. Below is an excerpt from chapter 1.

Everything looked great for New York’s latest prodigal son until it mattered most.

Stephenson was arrested this October for groping and subsequently threatening a girl. And though the charge is still pending, it puts a very large question mark on his resume and thrust him further into the limelight, but for the wrong reasons.

The last thing that Stephenson needed was more attention. His games began to be televised, and even more question marks emerged. The prospect who looked so good on paper, the kid whom everybody had hyped for the better part of a decade, had visible flaws in his game. While his stat lines remained impressive, and his game certainly was All-American calibur, Stephenson showed a severe tendency to over-dribble, only marginal quickness, and a lack of range on his jump shot. He relied heavily on size mis-matches.

To give him credit, it would be nearly impossible to live up to the hype that ESPN an New York media outlets built up for him. Even Lebron James was criticized after his first few televised games. Nonetheless, because he did show America that he was mortal, his stock dropped.

To be noted: Telfair also began to show weakness once he hit live television.

He began to fall in prospect rankings. His stronghold on a top-3 spot was no more. In most lists he has fallen out of the top ten. Obviously this still means that he is an incredible player, but not without a few weak spots.

The above question marks, coupled with an over-involved and know-it-all father, have left Stephenson in somewhat of a bind. He has chosen to wait on picking a school until his legal issues are resolved– an admirable decision. However, most coaches have already filled their rosters, and the ones who haven’t are still wavering on their desire to take a possible headache on– especially if he intends to leave after one year.

Stephenson is the only player in Scout.com and Rivals.com’s top 50 prospects to not have a college choice yet. However, there are still a few premium schools in the running.

Arizona, Kansas, Florida, Memphis, and Maryland have all declared interest. Kansas is rumored to have dropped out of contention, but Isaiah Thomas’ Florida International is supposedly making a late push. However Stephenson’s choice, much like his prospects of success at the college and professional levels, is too foggy to bother analyzing.

This is not to be read as an attack. He has proved himself to be a great player, but not without a caveat here and there. This is nothing more than the story of a young basketball phenom trying to cope with the New York media spotlight, and the drawing of parallels between Stephenson and Telfair. I wish him the best and hope that college basketball treats him well.

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4 Comments

  1. This article sucks . He hasn’t fallen off he scored over 1000 pts this yr his great coach had him playing power forward this season , he lead the team in scoring & rebounding. His great coach put 2gether a sch that was to tuff 4 this yrs team . Did U watch the same games ? U sound like a hater . This kid has handled all the hype . Its people like U with know good stories to write . U did know research for this story . YOUR JUST WRITING BECAUSE U HAVE A PEN . FIND A BETTER WAY TO GET HITS BLOGGER .

  2. Note to reader- I did not “hate” on Lance. It’s well-documented that he has slipped in the eyes of scouts. I did plenty of research. Sorry guy.

  3. Wow! Lance has dropped from being a top 3 to now being #7(scout)and a #11(rivals).I mean if he fell down 50 spots or something that would mean something. Every year the top guys early usually fall because scouts are picking apart their game. You forgot too mention that he was going to Kansas until Xavier Henry became available again. So Bill Self was willing to sign the guy that must mean something. Lance has issues I agree with you there(esp. his dad!)Lance is waiting for the case to get resolved before making a decision and this is a smart choice. As long as the one and done rule is either eliminated or changed to 2 or 3 years stuff like this is going to happen every year because Lance is not going to college to get an education but fill in a year before going to the Nba.

  4. re-Bonjour. Est-ce vous pouvez m’en dire plus sur le système de cage pour lapin nain hollandais .

    Encore merci pour pour ce blogg .


One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] a three-star power forward. Obviously this ranking is subject to change based on the destination of Lance Stephenson, but it appears doubtful that he’ll be donning red, black, and gold next […]

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