April 11, 2008

Lance to Visit UCLA; Big Summer Ahead

Lance Stephenson, one of the top juniors in the nation, has a whirlwind summer ahead of him, with potential trips to Senegal and Argentina as well as stops at various U.S. colleges as he mulls his recruiting options.

Stephenson's tour will likely include a stop at UCLA on Saturday while he is in Los Angeles for the Difference Matchup Tournament.

"While we're out here we're going to take a look at UCLA," Lance "Stretch" Stephenson Sr. said Friday by phone from L.A. "Probably (Saturday)."

The 6-foot-5 Stephenson, the No. 4 player in the Class of 2009, is playing on Renardo Sidney's AAU team, the LA Dream Team, for this event. The 6-foot-10 Sidney is ranked No. 1 in the Class by Rivals.

Stephenson, the subject of an Internet documentary called "Born Ready," recently completed his junior season at Brooklyn Lincoln High School, where he led the Railsplitters to both their third straight New York PSAL title as well as their second straight New York State Federation championship. He averaged 27 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals a game.

"Athletically, he's good enough to play in the NBA right now," former NBA coach Paul Silas told the New York Post of Stephenson.
"There's so much more to the game," Silas said. "He still has to learn the mentality it takes to succeed at that level."

Stephenson will spend the coming weeks and months playing in various events and visiting several schools, including Arkansas, North Carolina and Georgetown, and
potentially Kansas and Memphis.

He is being recruited by numerous major D-1 programs, including USC, UCLA, Memphis, North Carolina, Georgetown, Indiana, Arkansas, Seton Hall and Louisville.

Lance "Stretch" Stephenson said he and his son could make a decision by September.

"I would say by late September, or just before the season starts," he said. "Hopefully he has everything straight by the time the season started."

"Stephenson has already visited Indiana, USC, Louisville and Seton Hall.

He also plans to check out Arkansas when he visits the Real Deal on the Hill event in Northwest Arkansas April 18-20.

"I know Arkansas is a good school," Stephenson Sr. told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. "That's the real reason we're coming down to the Real Deal, to get a look at the campus. I've talked to Lance about Arkansas. I go back when Nolan Richardson was there and when they won the national
championship. I remember how the fans were out there.

"I told Lance that would be a good school to check out."

Stephenson told the newspaper he doesn't know much about the SEC school.

I want to see how the school is, get to know the coaches," Lance told the Gazette. "I just want to learn about Arkansas so I can see how it is."

Stephenson will also attend the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions in Chapel Hill, N.C. May 23-25.

"The tournaments we're going to this year are focused around some of the schools that Lance would like to attend," Stephenson Sr. told the Gazettes. "We're going down to the Bob Gibbons tournament and check out North
Carolina. We're going down to a tournament in Maryland to check out Georgetown."

Stephenson is a member of the adidas Nations U.S. National Team for 2009 and he will participate in workouts with that group in Los Angeles June 13-15 before heading off to Dakar, Senegal for the adidas Nations Africa Regional Camp June 18-23. St. Patrick of Elizabeth junior guard Dexter Strickland,who has committed to North Carolina, and uncommitted junior wing Dominic Cheek of St. Anthony of Jersey City are also on the adidas Nations team.

The whirlwind tour continues in July. Stephenson will also try out for the U.S. U18 National Team at Georgetown July 1-4.
The training camp for that event then runs from July 4-10, also at Georgetown.

"Hopefully, while we're down there (at Georgetown), we can talk to some of the coaches," Stephenson Sr. said.

If Stephenson makes the team, he would participate in the FIBA Americas U18
Championship in Formosa, Argentina July 14-18. He and Strickland would also miss the LeBron James US Skills Academy, to be held in Akron, Ohio July 5-9.

Don Showalter of the USA Basketball Men's Junior Development Committee said about 40 players, including Stephenson and Strickland, have been invited to try out for the team and that about 10 or 11 will make
the squad.

Stephenson and Strickland will be competing against rising college freshman and some players who completed their freshman
year of college.

"(Stephenson) is certainly as gifted as any underclassmen there," Showalter
said. "Obviously, those kids (Stephenson and Strickland) are really good and it's going be a great experience for them playing with
older kids."

As if all that weren't enough, Stephenson also hopes to visit Kansas and Memphis at some point.

"We still have to check out Kansas and Memphis," Stephenson Sr. said.

And what about Indiana, which Stephenson visited last fall? Are they still in the mix?

"I wouldn't say they're off the list, but we're still doing a lot more research and stuff like that," Stephenson Sr. said. "Nobody's really off the list."

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