Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Is Lance Stephenson Worth It?
The story of Lance Stephenson has been everywhere in the national recruiting scene since he is the last of the Rivals top 100 yet to sign with a school. Stephenson, who has dominated in NYC, has unfortunately had a lot of bad issues surrounding him and his recruitment. From a sexual assault charge, dominating and demanding father, academic eligibility issues, and issues surrounding an Internet reality show, most Division I programs and coaches have steered away from Stephenson. But now we have Cincinnati and Mick Cronin emerging as a potential suitor for the services of "Born Ready."
Is this a desperation move for Cronin? Obviously he wouldn't sign Stephenson until the assault allegations and issues regarding his eligibility are resolved with the NCAA, but I ask is it worth it? Sure Stephenson is a star on the court and will undoubtedly end up in the NBA. But with all of the negativity and the assertion from coaches and teammates that he is a selfish player would Cronin want to put his program at risk? He has spent time since taking over UC to get the Graduation rate up for his student athletes and build a successful college program. But do you sacrifice winning to doing the right thing? Kentucky fans grew tired of Tubby Smith and his quest to recruit the four year student athlete and have now anointed John Calipari and the King of suspect one and done players.
Obviously Mick needs to win and win now. And by winning he should be able to boost attendance which has hit all time lows for the men's team. The University has shown their patients with Cronin and even extended his contract despite a mediocre record. So why is Cronin willing to sell his soul for a one and done superstar with a lot of baggage? I don't know but I am afraid for the program. In the current system that does not allow players to enter the NBA out of high school Stephenson could come to Cincinnati, help them be competitive and leave after his Freshman season for the NBA. But the after effects of recruiting and signing a kid like Stephenson could potentially harm the Cincinnati Basketball program in the future. I am not saying that Lance is guilty of any of the allegations and I am not saying that NCAA sanctions are inevitable. I am saying there is a lot of smoke and typically where there is smoke there is fire. If I were Mick I would join the rest of the coaches and stay away from Lance Stephenson.