Mon Jun 01 09:58am EDT
His stock has fallen farther than General Motors. Once the most-hyped recruit in the country, Lance Stephenson enters June without a school, without much hype and with many in recruiting circles saying he's not worth the trouble. This begs the question: Does anybody still want Lance Stephenson?
Steve Yanda asked as much in The Washington Post this morning. It's partial hyperbole -- of course somebody will still take Stephenson, but for a guy whose college choice commanded national attention two months ago, Yanda argues that the suitors are far less in number than they once were. It's not as much where Stephenson wants to go, but which program will take him.
The questions aren't about Stephenson's game, but about the off-court issues. He seems to be the guy that every coach would rather be somebody else's problem. Between the pending criminal charge, questions about amateur status and the general sense that where Stephen goes drama follows, he just might not be worth it. Gary Williams, for instance, is desperate to sign a big-time national recruit. Will putting up with a possible Stephenson-headache be worth it for next season?
Probably not, when you consider quotes like this from a USA Basketball official. Speaking about Stephenson not making the under-18 men's national team last June:
"[Lance] was worthy of being on [the under-18 men's national team in 2008], but what you deal with is it would have taken too much energy for the coaches to maintain Lance playing less minutes and being on the bench, and it would have diverted [them] from working with the top five to seven guys to win a gold medal."
Translation: Stephenson is a chemistry killer. Taking one-and-done guys (as Stephenson is likely to be) is always a crapshoot, but there always seem to be more danger with the ones whose feet are already out the door before they step foot on campus. That doesn't lead to Final Fours, it leads to first-round NCAA tournament exits and a difficult recruiting situation in the fall.
Headed into the off-season, there were three main recruiting questions to be solved. Xavier Henry committed to Kansas back in April and John Wall signed with Kentucky before Memorial Day. The other dominoes have fallen and it's now up to Stephenson to finish off the major '09 signings. Or, more appropriately, it's up to whichever team decides to welcome him and his circus to town.