College, NBA Draft / Jun 22, 2010 / 12:00 pm

Lance Stephenson: Ready or Not?

Lance Stephenson, Dime #42

Cincinnati freshman Lance Stephenson is the most polarizing prospect in this year’s NBA Draft. The former New York City high school phenom is all over mock drafts boards, with some slotting him in the teens, some in the 20′s, others in the second round, and some even have Lance going undrafted. In our Dime #57 NBA Draft preview, Austin Burton and Aron Phillips debated whether or not “Born Ready” will live up to the hype:

LANCE STEPHENSON IS READY
You think we whiffed on this one, right? You think when we slapped a 17-year-old high school junior on the cover of Dime #42 and declared he would “be an NBA star right now,” it would go down as one of the biggest fumbles in basketball mag history, right?

Well, you’re right. In a way. We did call it too early. Lance Stephenson wouldn’t have been an NBA star at 17. But watch as he becomes one in his 20′s. Or at least climbs higher than being the bust so many are making him out to be.

“Born Ready” copped BIG EAST Rookie of the Year in his lone season at Cincinnati, but didn’t exactly set the conference on fire, averaging 12.3 points and 5.4 rebounds. And the fact that he even attended Cincy in the first place — when high school superstars of Lance’s caliber typically call UNC, Duke, UCLA or another powerhouse home — was admitted as more evidence that Stephenson must be just another product of the New York City hype machine.

But think about the elements we look for in a successful NBA player, and then you’ll realize he has almost every one. Size? Lance goes 6-5 and 210 at 19 years old, more than good enough for an NBA two-guard. Skills? He can handle the rock like a point guard, pass better than a lot of twos, and his strength is on par with many small forwards. Clutch? Against UConn on national TV, Lance hit game-winning free throws with 0.7 seconds left, then later downed Rutgers in the BIG EAST Tournament with two free throws as 1.8 showed on the clock. Work ethic? In high school, Lance woke up hours before school every morning in Coney Island to run stairs. Good teammate? While he was clearly the most talented player on the Bearcats this season, Lance routinely deferred to the upperclassmen, until he was called upon to be the primary scorer.

His jumper needs work, and he needs to play more under control, but plenty of teenagers have come into the NBA with the same issues. What’s important is that the basic foundation is set. Maybe he won’t be an All-Star or even a starter right away, but Lance Stephenson will be all right.
-Austin Burton

*** *** ***

LANCE STEPHENSON IS NOT
When you’re the No. 1 prospect coming out of New York City, you don’t go to Cincinnati. It’s that simple. Well, at least in the post-Bob Huggins era. So when Lance Stephenson — a guy who scored more points in his high school career than any other prep in New York state history, and led Lincoln High School to an unprecedented four straight city championships — suited up with the Bearcats this Fall, you knew something was up.

The funny thing is, before Stephenson declared for the Draft, most people projected him as a second-round pick. Next year. And rightly so. In his lone season at Cincinnati, Stephenson’s numbers wouldn’t blow you away. Sure 12.3 points is solid for a freshman, but his percentages were horrendous. Try 44 percent from the field, 22 percent beyond the arc, and 66 percent from the line. Does that scream NBA to you?

While one-and-done sounds nice, it’s not for everybody. And Stephenson’s lone year of college not only revealed to scouts that he wasn’t ready for the NBA, but also called his future potential (which is what he’s been living off of for years) into question. Will he grace the NBA hardwood one day? Most likely. But right now it’s evident that needs more time.
–Aron Phillips

Related Posts with Thumbnails
  • Celts Fan

    He’s got the size and skills (though those percentages need to go up) to be a rotation guy in the league at worst, he’s got more character red flags than Demarcus Cousins. Good teammate AB? Come on. Dude’s got some of the worst body language ever. I’d gladly grab him up in the 2nd round or late 1st (especially if I’m one of those teamsl ike Memphis w/ multiple first rounders) but it’s gonna take a few years and an attitude adjustment…

  • Promoman

    The thing with Lance is his attitude. Cincinnati was the only major program that would give him a full ride after he made himself radioactive by getting booted off the U.S. team last year. He went from being arguably the #1 player from the 2009 class to Isiah Rider Jr. He’s got a lot of skill, talent, and tools but he’s got his head up his ass. He blames everybody else for his mistakes and despite dominating the ball at the collegiate level, he didn’t put up better numbers. As much as he had the ball, he should’ve at least damn near doubled his offensive numbers.

  • Detroit Dave

    He is like a poor man’s Tyreke Evans. I wouldn’t take him in the first round. He plays outta control and played a lot of bully ball in Cincy. I don’t see him being very successful trying to out muscle guards that are his size in the NBA. Extremely RAW.

  • http://www.espn.com Sho-Nuff

    DimMag will never admit to being wrong. A second round pick for him maybe. No where near the first round.

    A GM needs to lose his job if they pick him in the first round.

  • control

    Guy is from New York? That is enough excuse for me to hate on him, fuck this guy. He’s going to be another overhyped bust. Already got the media all up on his nuts, but like most things in and from New York, it’s all hype and no substance.

  • http://www.jayhealthycoffee.com Jai

    Won’t go into debates but I guarantee if he ends up in the right situation, like legitimate chance for playing time he’ll have a good chance to win ROY

  • T13

    Bust, I’m afraid, total bust. Going to be out of the league within a couple of years. You’d be a damn fool to draft this kid.

  • Papa Smurf

    He’s ready . . . to join Omar Cook overseas.

  • Large

    I say another year in college, especially a dominant one, which he is capable of, and he goes #1.

    Big mistake declaring after such a mediocre stint in college.

  • jeff

    Not. He’ll play well in exactly 3 games.

  • Papa Smurf

    Damn Jeff,

    That’s one precise (and, I think, accurate) prediction. You got any stat lines for those games?

  • E

    ANYBODY THAT HAS SOMETHING NEGATIVE TO SAY ABOUT LANCE STEPHENSON BASKETBALL SKILLS IS A HATER THIS DUDE WILL MAKE ONE OF THE TEAMS VERY HAPPY I HAVE SEEN TONS OF NBA PLAYERS PLAY IN PERSON AND LANCE IMPRESSED ME MORE THAN THEY DID WHEN I SEEN HIM PLAYING AGAINST PROS AND COLLEGE PLAYERS WHEN HE WAS 15 AND DOING WHAT HE WANTED AT WILL HIS GAME IS AND HAS BEEN NBA READY FOR YEARS NOW

  • josh

    well look at jrue holiday of last year he didnt scroe like 23 points but u knew as a player he got the job done and thats how lance is, he did everything that the coach wanted him to do.Lance should be a late first round

  • http://sevendeu2u.wordpress.com/ Seven Duece

    His handle and strength alone will get him some points in the L, bank on that. But until he changes his body from the stiff football build to a more flexible one, he’ll have trouble on D. First round? Not unless he kills in workouts – which he can do.

  • sh!tfaced

    LOL. Lance Stepheson Born Ready (Or Not)

  • Heckler

    bum.
    sebastian telfair at best.
    and that aint saying much….

  • http://www.tpfsports.com Albert

    I don’t think most of the folks in here paid attention to what took place in Cincinatti when Lance was playing around nothing but chuckers who refused to defer to him until they got into the Big East tournament where he damn near beat WV by himself.

    He was held back by Cronin’s horrific offense at Cincy. I see him beasting at the next level.