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Followup ...

Wanted to follow up on my last post on Sidney/Stepehenson with another one with couple of more articles on Stephenson.

One of our readers emailed us couple of old articles on Stephenson. The first was written by Seth Davis on, who raised a number of red flags re Stephenson.  Stephenson was a ninth grader at the time (and was getting schooled by O. J. Mayo at ABCD camp) at the time Davis wrote this:

Stephenson was a trash-talking, finger-pointing, tongue-wagging blur who got in Mayo's face as soon as they took the court to start the second quarter. When Stephenson made a quick move along the baseline, the Brooklynites erupted. Then Mayo got mad. He started taking it right at the youngster and repeatedly scored at will.
More from that article:
It doesn't help that Stephenson's father, Lance Sr., has a reputation for being an overexuberant sports dad who often shouts profanity from the bleachers. (Incidentally, I'm hearing more horror stories about basketball dads than ever before, but that's a topic for another day.) And this being Brooklyn, there has to be an intense dogfight amongst the local high schools for Stephenson's services at the proverbial "next level." Stephenson says he is going to Bishop Loughlin, a private school in New York's vaunted Catholic League, but Lincoln High coach Dwayne "Tiny" Morton, who coached Telfair and has coached Stephenson in the summertime, is not going down without a fight. Bishop Loughlin coach Khalid Green told me straight up that he and Morton compete in a "bloodsport" for players. Stephenson is just the latest pawn caught up in that struggle.

Still, while it's tempting to castigate the New York hype machine for the way it prematurely inflates reputations, the reality is that all of us who allow ourselves to be titillated by the who's-next storylines are part of that machine -- and part of the problem. For his part, Stephenson wasn't the least bit regretful about having been thrust into the spotlight at at ABCD. "I had a great time," he said Friday night. "I wanted to play against the best players in the country, and that's what I did."
I think we as UCLA fans should not act all high and mighty about over exuberant "sports dad" after spending a year with Stan Love. Now of course I have never heard of Mr. Love being profane or engaging in conduct that embarrassed our program. However, I think it is fair to label him as a parent who was super involved with his kid's basketball career. So folks should be careful about making judgments on these recruits based on reports of over exuberant parents.

Now that first story was from 2005 which one can potentially dismiss as the over exuberance of a 14 year old kid who doesn't know any better. However, there was another similar report on Stephenson from which had these observations at Adidas Nations basketball experience in 2007:
Now that we've gotten the many incredible strengths that Stephenson possesses out of the way, we must also share some concerns. Stephenson showed a very questionable attitude throughout the event, picking fights with opposing players, showing questionable body language, and generally looking very immature. He pouted whenever things didn't go his way, blaming the refs, his teammates, the opposition, or basically anyone besides himself when things went even slightly wrong. When all is well he's an incredible looking prospect, but once him or his team hit a rough patch, he basically gave up. All too often he played selfish basketball, showing a poor basketball IQ, running into brick walls, and tossing up terrible shots, while putting forth absolutely no effort on the defensive end. At this point, he's much stronger than anyone else in his class, which gives him a huge advantage on the court. You have to wonder whether that is going to hold up once everyone else catches up physically. We've seen this happen in the past, and it rarely turns out well.

Stephenson's career could go in many different directions from here. He could capitalize on his immense potential and become a one and done player at whichever school he chooses (let's take a "wild" guess and say Louisville or Memphis), and then turn into a legit NBA player, or he could completely flame out in college. It's hard to see much of a middle ground here. Hopefully he does eventually mature, because we're obviously talking about a special talent.
Well speaking of maturing, the impression he left the following year at the 2nd Adidas Nations Basketball Experience was much more favorable (as I noted in my earlier post). That report also had this interesting note:
Kalish then added that these guys, for all their rising stock, want to learn and get better, especially when there's a time when they might get "humbled" by seniors the caliber of a "Tyreke Evans or a Jrue Holiday." Plus, he added, that the players are really responding well to giving back to communities and realizing "what they have, how good they have it, and how good it feels to give back and working on being better people."
Hmm ... I'd like to think these kids talk to each other. One can wonder the impression a kid like Stephenson has when he interacts Howland recruits such as Holiday, and get to hear what they are looking forward to at UCLA.

Also there are couple of poignant observations from the comment threads in the last post, that I think are worth sharing it with everyone else up front. From Class of 66 on Stephenson and Mayo:
I was prepared, by the hype and publicity, to dislike OJ2 for what he was supposed to have been in high school.

However, in my eyes, he earned a lot of respect as a level headed, team player at sc, this year -- even though he played under a totally untalented and misguided coach. However much I wanted to dislike him, I couldn't

If anyone can help a kid mature from being a high school hot shot to a team oriented college player, it's CBH.

I trust CBH. Whoever he wants, I want. It's that easy.
And from ryebreadaz asking folks not to be so quick to judge:
I've heard people (some of whom are on BN) rule out Sidney and Stephenson already because of their reputation. They aren't squeaky clean by any means, but keep in mind that we're judging these kids based on things that happened at least 2 years before they'd put a Bruin uniform on and sometimes 3 or 4 years prior.

They're kids and will make mistakes. They will also continue to grow and mature. It is far more telling to see how the two act in this coming year and find out whether they've learned from their mistakes. What if they did commit the mistakes they've been accused of and haven't been the people people/teammates, but they learned from it and are great kids now? What if they are exactly what Howland's looking for now?

I'm not saying that either Sidney or Stephenson are perfect people or will have learned from some of their mistakes. I don't know them and haven't ever spoken to either of them. The point I'm trying to make is we're talking about things that happened years before they could take the court in Westwood so ruling them out based on that may not be the best idea. Let's see what happens and how they've matured. Maybe they won't be a fit, but let's make that determination as we get a little closer to signing day and have a better idea of what kind of kids they are NOW, not 2 or 3 years ago.
I think that pretty much sums it up on where I am on these two for the time being. I will let the recruiting process play out from hereon.