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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Lance Stephenson

Player Name: Lance Stephenson

School: Cincinnati

Height/Weight: 6’6″, 227 lbs

NBA Position: SG/SF

Projected Draft Position: Late first/early second round

Overview: Coming into his freshman year Stephenson was one of the most talked about recruits in recent memory. Unfortunately it was for all the wrong reasons as Stephenson was considered egotistical and there were even questions about his eligibility. As it turned out Stephenson was not the much-ballyhooed recruit that spent the season on the sidelines because of eligibility issues. Although he avoided the long arm of the NCAA, Stephenson had his own struggles on an inconsistent Bearcat team that mirrored their mercurial freshman star’s personality. Stephenson had the potential to develop into a top 10 pick. Normally we would be critical of such a decision (as college basketball fans), but Stephenson has stated that his primary reason for leaving school early was to support his 2 year-old daughter.

Will "Born Ready" Be Ready for the NBA?

Will Translate to the NBA: Even though Stephenson is a borderline first round pick his game is NBA ready (his nickname is “Born Ready” after all) and if he works on keeping his ego in check, which reports out of workout sessions suggest, he should be a solid NBA player. With his power, quickness, and a solid mid-range jumper Stephenson should have a spot on a NBA roster for the next decade along as he continues to be the new-and-improved Lance Stephenson instead of the malcontent who nearly turned the basketball recruiting world upside down in the spring and summer of 2009.

Needs Work: For all of his athletic gifts Stephenson lack the explosiveness (both with his first step and his vertical) that scouts expect in high draft picks. While there isn’t much Stephenson can do about that other than try to shed a few pounds and go to Tim Glover during the off-season a few times. As for the more realistic targets for Stephenson, he could work on his long-range shooting (21.9% from 3 last year), defensive intensive intensity, going with the flow of the game instead of making up his mind before the play develops, and going with the simple play instead of the “And 1” play. So Stephenson has a lot to work on over the next few years. . .

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Lance Stephenson to Stay at Cincy?

“Born Ready” has decided he’s not quite ready for the NBA, as the NYC prep legend-cum-Cincy guard told Bill Koch at the Cincinnati Enquirer today that he’s strongly leaning toward staying in college another year after (so far) a relatively up and down season.  The UC freshman is averaging 11/4/2 assts in just over 27 minutes of action per game, but he’s only scored six points on 2-9 shooting in his last two games and has struggled with turnovers (2.6 per game) and his outside jumper all season long (20%).   Here’s Lance Stephenson’s quote on the matter:

“I think I’m going to stay and keep working.  I don’t think I’ve had an NBA season this year so the best choice for me is to stay.”

Maybe Born Ready is Wise Enough to Know When He's Ready

Well, at least he’s being honest.  According to the article, NBA scouts have stated privately that he would be a low second-rounder at this point, and two draft tracking sites currently have him at #39 at #41, respectively.  There’s no shortage of New York City schoolboy legends who failed to live up to their hype, but Felipe Lopez, Sebastian Telfair and Omar Cook immediately come to mind in varying degrees.  But perhaps the best decision Stephenson ever made was to get away from the hustle and flow culture of the NYC basketball circuit by moving to the calmer and more reasonable environs of the Queen City.  By avoiding the endless crush of wannabe agents and hangers-on endemic to New York telling him how great he is at every turn, he might have just saved his career from an early flameout. 

As Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin alluded to in the article, Stephenson’s biggest difficulty as a freshman in the Big East has been learning when to play within the offense rather than taking it upon himself to score every time downcourt.  Even the more-ballyhooed John Wall has started to face the reality that playing 1-on-3 or even 1-on-4 isn’t always the best option in a team’s offense, no matter how many ridiculous skills at putting the ball in the basket you possess.  When you’ve been The Man for your entire life, this is a subtlety often lost on young players transitioning to both the college and NBA game, but the ones who become great eventually learn it.  The first step toward that end is simple recognition of physical limitations, and the above quote from Stephenson signifies to us that he might be getting it. 

The “Born Ready” moniker is a humorous one because it portends an arrogance that young players often carry, but maybe in this case, the nickname actually refers to the wisdom to know when you’re ready rather than the actual readiness itself.  If so, we’d expect to see Stephenson playing for pay for a very long time.  Just not next year.

Cue the Next 1-and-Done Scandal: Lance Stephenson at Cincinnati?

If the report is true that Cincinnati is going to pull the trigger (Russian Roulette style) this week and offer a scholarship to NYC legend and phenomenal talent, Lance Stephenson,  let’s take a short trip in our RTC time Maybach to peek at what things might look like a year from now.  Fast forwarding…

lance stephenson

Born Ready For Ineligibility?

Dateline: June 29, 2010

The University of Cincinnati and Mick Cronin were rocked by allegations that surfaced over the weekend that their one-and-done star, Lance Stephenson, may have been ineligible during his only season in the Queen City.  In a YahooSports report, Stephenson, a third-team All-American and the third pick in last week’s NBA Draft, is alleged to have been paid handsomely during his junior year of high school for his role on an internet reality series called “Born Ready” that aired last year on MTV2.  Rumors have followed Stephenson for years as to the propriety of that arrangement, and his father has steadfastly repeated that his son’s income from that series was $0, but the report indicates that Stephenson’s handlers funneled cash from the production through his extended family members so as to keep his amateur eligibility intact.  After committing to UC last summer, the NCAA Clearinghouse verified Stephenson’s eligibility, but assuming the allegations are true, the key issue now is whether Cincinnati’s 27 wins from a Sweet Sixteen season should be removed for competing with an ineligible player.  You may recall that Memphis faced a similar situation with Derrick Rose last summer (his eligibility was compromised based on his entrance exam even though the Clearinghouse admitted him).  This makes the third consecutive offseason where an elite one-and-done player and NBA Draft pick has left a wide swath of NCAA rules-oriented destruction in his wake – the NCAA needs to address this problem, and SOON.

Note: the above account is a satirical fiction, fyi, for any idiot who tries to cut/paste it out of context. 

Clearly we don’t see this going well. 

According to Zagsblog, Stephenson will learn his fate today on a criminal matter relating to the alleged groping of a 17-year old girl last year (presumably not bad), and he will use that jumping point to commit to the Bearcats tomorrow.  In an odd coincidence, Nancy Zimpher, the UC president who famously stood down head coach Bob Huggins and had him ousted in 2005 over years of renegade behavior and recruiting, recently took a position as the Chancellor of the SUNY system (effective June 1, 2009).  Could it be that the new president, Monica Rimai, is friendlier to the athletic interests of the university? 

One thing is for certain, as BiaH outlines in his post today, with Stephenson in the mix along with Deonta Vaughn and others, Cincy could be in a position to compete for a conference title in a shallower Big East next year.  For Cincy fans, that should be very exciting; it’s just any fallout the year after next that should worry them.

Who’s Got Next? Rawle Alkins Carries the NYC Torch & the Underrated Ed Morrow

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitment of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at

Note: used for all player rankings.

The Next Big Thing in NYC

Lance Stephenson. Isaiah Whitehead. Rawle Alkins? New York City is known for its prep basketball, and while the overall talent has been in a steady decline as of late, there have still been a few torch-bearers over the years. Stephenson led Lincoln High School through 2009 and then passed the mantle down to Whitehead, who is now a high-scoring freshman at Seton Hall. Alkins, the 6’5” junior wing from Christ the King High School might be the next big-time prospect out of the city. He is currently considered a four-star recruit in his junior class, ranked No. 31 overall and the No. 8 small forward, but with a strong start to his season that ranking could begin to skyrocket very soon.

Similar to Stephenson and Whitehead, you will never hear the criticism that Alkins needs to work on his strength. The broad-shouldered player looks like a fullback but moves like an elite runner. He recently showcased his power and agility at the Chicago Elite Classic last Saturday. Playing against one of the local Chicago teams in St. Rita High School, which features Kentucky-bound four-star guard Charles Matthews, there was no question regarding who was the best player on the court. In leading Christ the King to a blowout win, Alkins finished with 28 points, six rebounds, seven assists and five steals on 11-of-16 shooting. The main weakness in Alkins’ game centers on his outside shooting ability, but he hit four threes from all over the court, in addition to showing his repertoire of rim-rattling dunks, pull-up jumpers, and nifty assists. While it was obvious to anyone watching who the star was, Alkins hammered that point home when he went one-on-one with Matthews and finished things off with a driving lay-up.

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Award Tour: Doug McDermott is Simply Toying with the Competition


Jameson Fleming is an RTC columnist who also works for as the site’s social media editor. You can follow him on Twitter @JamesonFleming.

Several players and coaches dropped out of the rankings even though they probably deserve a spot on their respective lists. Arizona’s Sean Miller saw his team drop a road game against Arizona State, which is of course completely acceptable. For now, or at least until his squad figures out how to score again, Miller will remain sidelined from our top five. Jim Boeheim’s team also can’t score. The offensive issues for the Orange are more fixable than Arizona’s because the only player ‘Cuse is missing is Baye Keita — his face should be put on a milk carton for how little he contributes with the ball. On the NPOY side, both of Cincinnati’s Justin Jackson and Sean Kilpatrick deserve some love and one will likely find his way into the rankings with a win against Louisville this weekend.

Just weeks away from the end of the regular season, everyone is still chasing the guy on the left.

Just weeks away from the end of the regular season, everyone is still chasing the guy on the left.

Player of the Year

10. Kyle Anderson – UCLA. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 15.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 6.8 APG, 114.0 oRTG

At no point this season did UCLA ever look like it would struggle to make the NCAA Tournament, but rarely did the Bruins look they’d be a threat to make a deep run in March. That has changed. UCLA has won seven of eight games to easily move into second place in the Pac-12 thanks to a league-best offense. Who runs that attack? Kyle Anderson. He picks his spots to score, but he also puts an emphasis on being the distributor Steve Alford’s offense needs. He’s had three double-figure assist games in his last eight after recording just one previously.

9. Andrew Wiggins – Kansas. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 16.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 113.3 oRTG

The Big 12 is arguably the best conference in the country, and it’s loaded with very good players. For most of the season, various Big 12 players have popped in and out of the rankings, most notably Marcus Smart. With the Oklahoma State guard’s decline, however, the Big 12 is lacking a standout Player of the Year candidate. Joel Embiid looked like he might take over the race, but the Kansas freshman still hasn’t been able to consistently play major minutes. Queue Andrew Wiggins: He’s the top shot-taker and maker for the best team in the league (by far) and he can defend all over the court. With a stretch against Texas, Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and at West Virginia remaining, Wiggins could easily put the Big 12 POY award on lockdown with several strong performances.

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Big East M5: 01.31.14 Edition


  1. Creighton and Villanova have shot up the rankings this season with great guard play and effective outside shooting. ESPN‘s John Gasaway wrote an article recently looking at the teams with the highest percentage of attempts that come from behind the arc. Creighton takes 43.1 percent of its shots from deep, but Gasaway points out how effective they have become at shooting two-pointers (54.8 percent of their twos in conference action) and how their defense is also much improved (surrendering 1.02 points per possession). Villanova has a similar profile in all three aspects. They take 42.7 percent of their shots from three, making 54 percent of their twos and allowing 1.04 points per possession. It’s interesting just how similar the two best teams in the league are and we will probably see a much closer game the second time these teams meet in Omaha. 
  2. Former Ohio State walk-on and current Grantland writer Mark Titus may not have the most accurate power rankings out there, but he definitely has the funniest. Titus likes to make jokes, but he is also very smart about basketball and makes compelling points along the way. This week he has Creighton Doug McDermott in his eighth national spot. Although he jokes about McDermott and his impressive recent play, he has a great quote about Creighton as a team, saying, “The Bluejays have become appointment viewing. If their shooting outburst against Villanova wasn’t enough to convince you of this, McDermott’s heroic effort should cement their status. No matter who they’re playing, you can turn on a Creighton game and be pretty sure you’re going to be thoroughly entertained for two hours.” The team’s ability to go off at any time and McDermott’s NPOY-level play has truly made this team a can’t-miss viewing appointment. 
  3. Buzz Williams must have been listening to all the Marquette writers and fans this week. With articles from Cracked Sidewalks, Anonymous Eagle, and Paint Touches all calling for the underclassmen to get more playing time, Williams put JaJuan Johnson and Deonte Burton into the starting lineup in last night’s impressive win, with John Dawson coming off the bench early. All three played at least 10 minutes while Burton led the trio with nine points and six rebounds. The key with the freshman is to remain aggressive while staying under control and understanding the situation. They showed their confidence attacking the rim and being pesky on defense, but also forced a few unnecessary shots. It seems like Williams likes the energy and production they bring which should help them get more comfortable with the college game in preparation for next season.
  4. Seton Hall has its first McDonald’s All-American since Andre Barrett and Eddie Griffin arrived in 2000. Coney Island native Isaiah Whitehead was named to the team on Wednesday as he finishes up an outstanding high school career. Zach Braziller at the New York Post talked to Whitehead after the announcement, as he follows in the footsteps of Lincoln High School legends Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair and Lance Stephenson. This is a great honor for Whitehead and his arrival next year should excite Seton Hall fans as he leads a stellar class of New York and New Jersey local products.
  5. With the losses of Brandon Austin, Kris Nunn, and Rodney Bullock, Providence guard Josh Fortune has had to consistently play almost the entire game throughout conference play. He has played at least 30 minutes in all but one game, and even played 50 (!) against St. John’s. While Fortune has played a key role for the Friars as Bryce Cotton’s backcourt mate, he has had to focus on basketball while his mother is stationed 6,000 miles away as a colonel in the Army. Kevin McNamara writes about life off the court and how Fortune has to deal with the intermittent communication with his mother. Fortunately for head coach Ed Cooley, Fortune has stepped up and been a consistent producer all season, helping Providence battle for what appeared to be an unlikely NCAA Tournament berth.

Who’s Got Next? Isaiah Whitehead and an Under the Radar Jalen Hudson’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at

Note: used for all player rankings.

The Next Brooklyn Star: Isaiah Whitehead

With an alumni list that includes Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair, and Lance Stephenson it’s safe to say that Brooklyn’s Lincoln High has produced its fair share of talented and hyped prospects. Next up on the list is five-star senior shooting guard Isaiah Whitehead. At 6’4” and 200 pounds, Whitehead currently is rated the No. 12 player in the country and top overall shooting guard; however the Seton Hall recruit has seen his fair share of ups and downs over the past four years. Highly touted as Brooklyn’s next big thing when he entered high school, Whitehead was physically more advanced than most of his classmates at the time. While others continued to grow and get stronger, Whitehead hit a plateau. Despite leading Lincoln to a PSAL (Public Schools Athletic League) AA title as a junior, he entered the 2013 spring AAU season as a four-star recruit and the No. 8 shooting guard in the country. Playing for the Juice All-Stars, an AAU program run by his high school coach Dwayne “Tiny” Morton, Whitehead started off hot in April and never cooled off. He played on both the Under Armour and Nike AAU circuits, along with various camps and showcase tournaments. He averaged 16.3 points per game in Nike play while shooting 38 percent from the three point line and in each setting he came away with awards and accolades while steadily climbing up the recruiting rankings. In his last event of the summer, Whitehead received co-MVP honors in the Elite 24, a nationally televised all-star game played under the Brooklyn Bridge which featured numerous top players throughout the country.

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Who’s Got Next? Cincinnati Lands Highly Touted Jermaine Lawrence…


Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at

Note: ESPN Recruiting used for all player rankings

With the spring signing period rapidly approaching for the high school basketball senior class, only six players remained uncommitted from the ESPN 100 prior to Sunday. Now, there are five. New York native Jermaine Lawrence, the No. 19 overall prospect from the class of 2013, celebrated his 18th birthday over the weekend by verbally committing to the Cincinnati Bearcats. Lawrence, out of Pope John XXIII High School (New Jersey), pledged his commitment via social media by choosing the Bearcats over St. John’s and UNLV.

Jermaine Lawrence celebrated his 17th birthday by committing to the Cincinnati Bearcats

Jermaine Lawrence celebrated his 18th birthday by committing to the Cincinnati Bearcats

“I’m blessed to celebrate a milestone birthday!” Lawrence said in a statement on his Tumblr account. “My family and I would like to thank all the schools that showed interest. I’m humbled to have had the experience of being recruited. After a long decision with my parents, I’ve decided I’ll be attending the University of Cincinnati!” Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin had made Lawrence his most targeted recruit since last year’s spring recruiting period. Despite suffering a right hand injury during the AAU season that ultimately required surgery last October, Cronin and his staff remained persistent in their pursuit for the 6’9″ power forward.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Tony Wroten, Jr.

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Tony Wroten, Jr.

School: Washington

Height/Weight: 6’6”, 205 lbs.

NBA Position: Combo Guard

Projected Draft Range: Mid-First Round

Tony Wroten, Jr. Has Plenty of NBA-Caliber Traits, But Needs To Patch Some Glaring Holes

Overview: Tony Wroten heads into the NBA Draft as one of the most divisive figures in recent memory; if you ask two different people their opinion on him, you’re likely to get two (or more) different takes. For instance, in his lone season in Seattle, there were plenty of people who considered him the best player in the conference and a strong contender for conference player of the year, while there were others (me included) for whom Wroten wasn’t even on the radar for second-team all-conference. There is little doubt that he has all the physical tools necessary to become an excellent NBA player, but to this point in time, for every eye-popping positive that Wroten brings to his team, there is one serious negative to go alongside it. He’s got a great first step and a willingness to get into the lane and try to make plays, often drawing fouls along the way, but once he gets to the line he’s flat out a bad free throw shooter. He’s got brilliant court vision and is able to make spectacular passes to set up teammates for easy hoops, but far too often makes the difficult play rather than the easy one, resulting in a nearly 1:1 assist to turnover ratio. He possesses quick hands and good defensive instincts but gambles far too much leaving himself out of position and his team at a disadvantage. His entire “career” at Washington was summed up in the Huskies’ final Pac-12 Tournament game, where Wroten was spectacular in the second half, scoring 17 of a career-high 29 points, only to miss four straight free throws in the final 18 seconds to effectively end the Huskies’ NCAA Tournament hopes. As of right now, that’s what you get with Wroten; you’ve got to take the good with the bad. But, he’s got the talent to clean up his numerous shortcomings and become an impact player at the next level; it’s a matter of seeing who will roll the dice in the hopes that improvement comes.

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Great Expectations for Five Highly Ranked SEC Freshmen

This year, the SEC will be home to 14 McDonald’s All American Game alumni including JaMychal Green (2008), Kenny Boynton (2009), Renardo Sidney (2009), Patric Young (2010), Terrence Jones (2010), Doron Lamb (2010), Jelan Kendrick (2010), Brad Beal (2011), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (2011), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2011), Johnny O’Bryant (2011), Anthony Davis (2011), Marquis Teague (2011) and Kyle Wiltjer (2011). These players are selected using recruiting rankings and evaluations at the high school and AAU level. It is not an exact science, but obviously players ranked in the top of the class generally produce at the next level. Green, Boynton, Sidney, Young, Jones and Lamb have demonstrated their talent through superb play and numerous all-SEC selections among them (Kendrick remains to be seen). This year, expectations are at an all-time high. The focus of this post is on the five newbies the SEC welcomes from the top 12 of’s final recruitment rankings for the Class of 2011 – Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, Beal, Teague, and Caldwell Pope. With that level of talent coming into the league it is certain that the SEC’s overall play and competitiveness will be elevated. However, is there any guarantee that with high expectations comes automatic production?

#1 recruit - Kentucky's Anthony Davis

To get some idea of what we can expect this season from the SEC’s highly ranked incoming freshmen, I have evaluated the top 12 players from’s final recruiting rankings over the last five seasons. Why 12? Well, the best answer is that it seemed to be a good cutoff and I was too tired to extend it to 15 or 20. I am only one man people! I examined PPG in their first year in college, as well as results from whether or not they went pro as that is also an indicator of talent or at least potential. Here are the last five years of players and their point production beginning with the Class of 2006 and going through the Class of 2010.

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