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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Pro/Con: Would Lance Stephenson benefit UA hoops?

    PRO: College is for growing up
    By Lance Madden

    I’m not going to beat around the bush here: There are a few reasons Lance Stephenson is the only one of the top-50 players in his recruiting class who hasn’t decided which school he wants to attend in the fall. It has to do with his attitude, his maturity, his cloudy affiliation with shoe brands, but certainly not his skill set.

    Mainly, it has to do with UA head coach Sean Miller’s subtle demand for his players to be young businessmen, which only exemplifies an excellent leader.

    But that doesn’t mean Miller should turn his back on one of the best players in the country -ÿa player who aptly stared in the film “”Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot,”” along with former Wildcat Jerryd Bayless and former signee Brandon Jennings.

    Stephenson has shown a negative attitude on the court and has been charged with abusing a 17-year-old girl at school, both of which have put an ugly black mark on the Brooklyn local’s proverbial résumé. But part of going to college is growing up; Miller can help Stephenson grow up, and in return, the player can sure as hell help the Wildcats on the talent side.

    There are players who didn’t learn about growing up until they were well into their college careers, and they’re doing just fine now.

    Remember when Syracuse guard Eric Devendorf was arrested for assaulting a woman? That happened when he was part of the Orange squad. After a suspension to get his attention, Devendorf returned and helped his team make a Sweet 16 appearance last season, as he was second on his team in scoring with 15.7 points per game.

    Even Arizona’s dear Jordan Hill has had his share of trouble. He was Tasered last year when he didn’t listen to a police officer’s command during a scuffle in the middle of the street. But the UA staff kept their faith in Hill, and now he’s on his way to becoming an NBA lottery pick.

    These two players put their troubles behind them, and it will be easier for Stephenson to do so before going to college. If the rock star basketball player comes to Arizona, it will be because Miller has found confidence that this boy can quickly grow up to a young man.

    If Stephenson does become a WIldcat, you can be sure that both parties win.

    -Lance Madden is a journalism senior; he can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu

    CON: Miller, Wildcats don’t need extra baggage
    By Bryan Roy

    There’s no “”i”” in team. Or in Lance Stephenson.

    Just a big “”r-i-s-k.””

    Does that make sense? It doesn’t to me, that one of America’s top-rated high school seniors, a lifelong prophecy of New York City hoops, doesn’t have a destination midway through June.

    What does it make: Cents. Enough cents to add up to dollars and question the eligibility of Stephenson, in how CBSSports.com scribe Gary Parrish compares him, like “”a supermodel with herpes … He looks great from a distance, and you can’t help but look.””

    But you know that inviting him into your home could be regrettable.””

    These are the times we live in, when national sports columnists can take a swift shots at America’s top-of-the-crop college basketball recruits.

    But these are the times we live in, when recruits can instill enough fear to scare even the dirtiest of coaches. College basketball, widely accepted for its ugly underworld of recruiting, might not ever see Stephenson play for an accredited university.

    The five-star point guard graduated high school this spring, but has yet to pick a college. And by pick, I mean rather than Stephenson deciding on a school, it’s the school that must decide on Stephenson.

    And not even USC, the anti-NCAA itself, would take a risk on this poor 18-year-old.

    He’s a worse liability than the combination of Kendra, a stripper pole, housewarming party and zero homeowners insurance.

    Stephenson faces a sexual assault hearing on June 29 in Brooklyn Criminal Court after he was charged with misdemeanor for groping a 17-year-old girl.

    It is also undetermined whether Stephenson or his family received compensation from a production company that featured Stephenson in a documentary, which can be seen on www.bornready.tv.

    As if his amateur status isn’t enough of a question mark, here’s what a USA Basketball official said of Stephenson, who didn’t make the under-18 men’s national team in 2008: “”He was worthy of being on the team, 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.””

    Sounds like there’s an “”i”” in Stephenson in that statement.
    You think Miller wants to babysit with the same sideshows Kevin O’Neill and Russ Pennell faced in two seasons of off-court turmoil? Can Tucson handle a kid who would prompt a sure-fire immediate investigation into his NCAA eligibility?

    Goldenboy Sean Miller has avoided the college basketball’s Swine Flu of sanctions that his peers have landed in recent months. John Calipari darted before Memphis hit the fan. Tim Floyd did the same in Troy. Rick Pitino’s got enough legal woes.

    His only option may be somewhere like Florida International University – a school so confident in its PR staff that it hired Isiah Thomas as the men’s basketball coach.

    Thomas, an ex-NYC guy who also faced sexual-related legal woes, might be a good fit for Stephenson.

    -Bryan Roy is a journalism junior; he can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu

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