Lance Stephenson finally living up to hype
by Jim Halley, USA TODAY Sports
Lance Stephenson has been used as an example of what can go wrong when a player is hyped too much too soon.
The funny thing is that now, after being written off more times than a zombie in a 1950s horror movie, Stephenson is showing there was something to the buzz.
Ironically, for a player dubbed “Born Ready” in high school, Stephenson has, three seasons into his NBA career, slowly and steadily, made himself into a player.
New York City basketball scout Tom Konchalski remembers hearing about how good Stephenson was when the player was in grade school in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn.
“He’s had to carry the burden of celebrity since he was in the fourth grade because of the players who came before him from Coney Island, from Stephon Marbury to Sebastian Telfair,” Konchalski said. “You shouldn’t have to live up to that level of pressure.”
For a while, he did. As an eighth-grader, Stephenson outplayed O.J. Mayo, then considered the top high school player, at a summer camp. At Lincoln High in Brooklyn, he broke the state high school career scoring record set by Telfair, while leading the Railsplitters to four consecutive Public School Athletic League titles. He even appeared in his own internet reality TV show, Born Ready, that followed him through his sophomore and junior seasons.
However, though he averaged 28.9 points and 10.2 points his senior year, people were beginning to doubt Stephenson. The summer before his senior year, the 6-5 guard was cut from USA Basketball’s Under-18 team. Because of legal woes and recruiting questions, he went from being recruited by Kansas to signing with Cincinnati. The NCAA didn’t clear him to play for the Bearcats until a little over a week before their first game.
In the 2009-10 season, he was the Big East’s Freshman of the Year, averaging 12.3 points and 5.4 rebounds, but he wasn’t drafted until the second round by the Pacers, the 40th player chosen overall in the 2010 draft.
His first two seasons with the Pacers, he averaged 10 minutes and 2.8 points a game and started only one game. … [For more on Lance Stephenson is finally living up to hype, click here.]