Waking up at 5 a.m. is never fun, especially for a freshman in high school. Arriving at school to play Greg Oden everyday at 6 a.m. is not the sort of thing one would want to wake up for either. Stephan Van Treese did that all last year. And now he is seeing the benefits in his own game.
The 6-foot-8, 215-pound big man from Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis, Ind., has been one of the top players at every event he has played in this AAU season. He was a no-brainer choice for the all-star game at the adidas Phenom150 camp last weekend.
The early morning practices against the best big man to come out of the high school ranks since Shaquille O'Neal may have had something to do with Van Treese's success.
"I try to take full advantage of it, working out with him as much as I can. We'd just do all of the big man work outs and I do everything Greg did. I tried to follow him," Van Treese said.
"After the first practice, I was like 'Man, this is going to be real tough.' But I just knew that I was going to get better and Greg was going to help me get better."
Van Treese has a game more likened to Josh McRoberts, a former Indianapolis area prep star, than Oden. Like McRoberts, Van Treese is athletic, runs the floor well and passes better than most bigs. Unlike McRoberts, Van Treese is not a proficient perimeter shooter like the current Duke star was at this stage in the game.
"I watched him when he came (to our place) and when my brother played him (at Cathedral) and he did a reverse dunk in that game. He's a real good player. It's funny, people were saying that I can jump higher than him. They think I can be better than him if I work on my shot."
The Big Ten schools have made Van Treese a priority. Indiana, Ohio State and Purdue have already tendered a scholarship to the rising sophomore.
"A bunch of Big Ten schools are all writing me," Van Treese said. "A lot of other schools are writing me, too."
Some of the others include Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, Xavier and Notre Dame. Van Treese was a day late to the adidas Phenom150 camp because he was on Indiana's campus for the second time in less than a month.
Van Treese said he knows new IU coach Kelvin Sampson is trying to take advantage of the plethora of talent in the Hoosier State.
"I really like what he is doing. I can see what his vision is," Van Treese said. "He wants to build off of indaiana players. Think about all of the talent we've had. Greg Oden, Eric Gordon, Josh McRoberts, Mike Conley. How many have gone to Indiana? Exactly. He is trying to solve that problem. He wants me to be the guy to do that.
Even with the high interest from the high-majors, Van Treese is in no rush to make a decision.
"I'm just going to wait," he said. "I don't see anything that is going to help me commit early. There is no benefit."
Van Treese is proving to be worth the wait.