Jerel Stephenson changed his routine this year. The 6-foot-4 power guard hung up his football helmet and focused all of his attention to hoops for his junior year at Glenn Hills High School in Augusta, Ga.
It is a move he hopes makes the difference for his hardwood future. Besides, he says, his Glenn Hills teams needs his versatility to improve upon the team's 11-17 record from last year. Stephenson averaged 11 points, six rebounds and five assists a game as a sophomore.
"From the beginning of the summer, I've been improving my jump shot because I'll be honest, I couldn't hit nothing," Stephenson said. "So I wanted to key on that. I'm getting up shots and hitting them now. I'm down at Riverview Park (home of the Nike Peach Jam) everyday. I wanted to play football but I had to do some changes."
His basketball transformation has something to do with his recruitment, he said. Stephenson said he is holding offers from South Carolina, Charlotte, UNC Wilmington and Auburn. Stephenson said he is also hearing from Auburn, Virginia Commonwealth, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Illinois, Florida State and Miami.
"I'm listening to what everyone has to say and then make a decision later," Stephenson said. "I'll do something after my junior year."
Stephenson and AAU teammate Toby Veal have often taken unofficial visits together and the two are entertaining the thought of playing together at the next level.
"Me and Toby have talked about it and we're looking at a couple of schools together – Auburn, Miami and Virginia Tech," Stephenson said.
In the meantime, Stephenson is working on his game and looking towards the postseason.
"We have to make the playoffs," he said. "That is where our focus is. We have good team chemistry and good players. The rest is up to us and making it happen."