Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lance Stephenson: The Saga Continues

The Lance Stephenson sweepstakes continues.

Who really knows when the wowing wunderkind will arrive at a decision?

The saga continues...

Rumored to be headed to first Kansas and then St. John's, both schools seem to be out of the picture for the kid they call "Born Ready."

New York's top-rated player, who's been hyped up to bliss-bound since he was a freshman at Lincoln High School, is rumored to be receiving interest from Memphis and Arizona.

It was reported first on http://www.zagsblog.com/

According to a source with inside information, the coveted but controversial guard is nowhere near a decision.

The late signing period concludes May 20, but Stephenson could end up making his decision after that date.

Stephenson has grazed the cover of sports magazines, had his own reality show on the web (http://www.bornready.tv/), and emerged as an instant lynchpin in the New York City streetball circuit.

That's a helluva lot of attention for a kid who is yet to attend his prom. New York has a history of kick-starting the hype machine early on promising point guards, and you can look up Stephon Marbury or Sebastian Telfair for more on that one.

Both players came up on the same hardscrabble Brooklyn streets as Stephenson. Both players, like Stephenson, starred at Lincoln High. Both players also had a microscopic media magnet on them their senior years of high school.

While the University of Arizona is now in active pursuit of the electrifying 6-foot-6 muscle-bound guard, no visit is in the works.

According to the aforementioned Zagsblog, there is no timetable on Born Ready's decision.

There's been an overabundance of source-triggered rumors and word around the Coney Island campfire about what direction Stephenson will go in pursuit of his basketball career.

They said he was taking the Brandon Jennings route and taking the long green to play in Europe. In an economic freefall that's drawn a striking similarity to The Great Depression, who could question that?

They said he was headed to Kansas and was sold on Bill Self and the influence of former NBA player Danny Manning. They said he was going to St. John's.

Stephenson, who averaged a sublime 32 points and 13 rebounds and spearheaded the Railsplitters to their school record fourth straight PSAL title, had narrowed his list down to St. John's, Maryland, and Kansas.

During Born Ready's visit to the campus at College Park, it was said he stopped in Baltimore to discuss a potential deal with Under Armour.

The sports attire that advertises itself as "The Ultimate Fabrication" maintains close ties with the University of Maryland.

Where Stephenson goes, baggage follows.

He's acclimated to the first-class, fast life treatment and his entourage followed him throughout the Railsplitters' 2008-09 campaign.

"Lance can't walk down the street without starting a ruckus," opined one New York City hoops guru.

It's why he wasn't invited to play in the prestigious Jordan Brand Classic two weeks ago, a questionable decision on Jordan Brand's part.

He was suspended for a game last year after a fight between a teammate (which reportedly resulted in the teammate being sent to the hospital) and was charged with groping a 17-year-old girl in October. According to Sports Illustrated, Stephenson fathered a daughter over the summer.

A little over a month ago, it looked as if Kansas had the upper hand in the recruitment of one of the nation's most highly sought after players.

“(Kansas) went pretty hard, he had a great visit, and they essentially sent Danny Manning as the Mariano Rivera in this situation to close the deal," said a source close to Stephenson.

“Lance understood the magnitude of this decision. He flirted with the idea of revitalizing the St. John’s program and sort of sprouting into a New York City icon by putting SJU and New York City back on the map. But realistically, he wants to win at a big-time program and Kansas is a perfect fit for him.”

A high school student who's about as easy to read as a 900-page Zen book, Stephenson already has sprouted into a New York City icon.

Kansas, however, is no longer an option as they took highly-touted Xavier Henry of Oklahoma City. They have no scholarships remaining.

Then surging rumors that Stephenson was going to St. John's began to surface.

"It's a done deal," said one source close to the SJU program.

"The number one prospect out of New York City is going to St. John's. Malik Boothe knows he's coming. Omari Lawrence knows he's coming. I think we all know who this player is, and he knows where he's going and it's St. John's.”

But the rumor was quickly debunked by SNY's Brookyln Sal, and Stephenson has remained undecided.

Stephenson's Sr., known in these parts as "Stretch" said the claim was false and that his son is simply "weighing his options."

Realistically, however, the landing of Stephenson would pay dividends for any high major.

He's got silky-smooth handle, springy bounce, a penchant for attacking the rim, rim-rattling dunks, and court vision beyond his years.

His shot isn't where it once was, but Lance can dial in from downtown he loses defenders in traffic with ease. He's got mano y mano moves that few players on this level can emulate, a streetball-like flair that throws defenders off balance.

He's bigger and stronger than Telfair was, more selfless than Marbury. He makes teammates better and draws in defenders from left to right.

His game has garnered the notice of many high-end playboys.

"Lance Stephenson, like I said, he's the most exciting kid in high school," said rapper Fat Joe, whose Terror Squad team is a formidable foe in the Rucker Park summer league.

"I swear, he's going to the NBA."

L.A. Clippers guard Baron Davis understands the level of avalanching pressure on the young fella.

"There's got to be a lot of pressure, to be the next kid coming out of New York that next great point guard."

Not to worry, Baron.

Wherever he does end up going, he'll be ready. He was born ready.