Friday, May 16, 2008

Former L.A. Standout Alex Stepheson Transfers from North Carolina

By Bruin Basketball Report

North Carolina announced forward/center Alex Stepheson is transferring from the school in order to be closer to his family in California.

"My family is dealing with some health challenges at this time, and as a result I have made the decision to transfer to be closer to home," Stepheson said in a statement issued Friday by the school.

The former Harvard-Westlake standout averaged 3.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in two seasons at Chapel Hill, playing primarily off the bench.

"I am extremely, extremely disappointed, but I feel so great about Alex that I understand his decision to transfer," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "He is doing this because of health concerns and by being closer to home he will be able to provide necessary support and help his family needs at this time.

School officials said they have granted Stepheson's request for a release, a move that permits him to contact other programs. UCLA and USC are two schools rumored to be the favorite destination of Stepheson at this time.

The Bruins heavily recruited the 6'9 235 lb Stepheson while he played at Harvard-Westlake in North Hollywood. He is a strong rebounder and excellent low post defender and would fit extremely well into Coach Ben Howland's system.

Its uncertain at this point whether Stepheson would have to sit out a season. Since he is transferring due to the health of his father, he might apply to the NCAA for an exemption, and if granted, it would allow him to play next season without sitting out.

If Stepheson does join the Bruins next season, he'll be joining a potentially very formidable front line which would include; seniors Alfred Aboya, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (if he returns), junior James Keefe, and freshman J'Mison Morgan (if he signs with UCLA).

With both Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook likely jumping to the NBA this summer, UCLA would have two open scholarships for both Morgan and Stepheson next season.

(photo credit: AP)



At May 16, 2008, 10:38:00 PM, Anonymous Alex said...

Kevin who? Michael who??

At May 16, 2008, 11:58:00 PM, Anonymous dan-O said...

I was cynical in my last post about what was going to happen, but it has subsided due to recent developments. I took some time to think about Howland's teams for the next two years (betting Morgan and Stephenson sign on). Looking really good.
Position 2008 Starters Year
PG Darren Collison Senior
SG Jrue Holliday Freshman
SF Josh Shipp Senior
C James Keefe Junior
Position Bench Year
SG Mike Roll Senior
PF/C Alfred Aboya Senior
C J'Mison Morgan Freshman
PG Jerime Anderson Freshman
SG/SF Malcolm Lee Freshman
PF/C Drew Gordon Freshman
I did see a post on Bruinsnation that said Aboya, Shipp, & LRMBM will be back next year. I also put Holiday on the 2009 team, because most analysts I have read think he'll be there for two years.
Position 2009 Starters Year
PG Jerime Anderson Sophomore
SG Jrue Holliday Sophomore
SF Malcolm Lee Sophomore
PF James Keefe Senior
C J'Mison Morgan Sophomore
Position 2009 Bench Year
F Reeves Nelson Freshman
PF/C Alex Stephenson Redshirt Junior
PF/C Drew Gordon Sophomore
PF ??Brendan Lane?? Freshman
SG ??Avery Bradley?? Freshman
???? ???? ????
We're loaded but I don't know who will be starting. It's a good problem to have. I attached the bruinsnation post citing the director of basketball operations. Go Bruins!

At May 17, 2008, 2:41:00 AM, Anonymous don said...

Things are looking up in deed Dan-o. If you add Stephenson and Morgan, that gives a ton of depth both front court and back court and there are several players flexible enough to bridge that 4 to the 3, or the 2 to the 3... Not sure how all these guys get playing time, but time will be earned and hopefully Howland will start using 9 guys with meaningful minutes.
Jake, you on Stephenson when he was being recruited originally? What is your take on him? all I have seen are clips.

At May 17, 2008, 3:44:00 AM, Anonymous jake said...

Probably not best to comment on the Stephenson situation at the moment.
It is funny though - just a few months ago I was highly concerned about "The Bigs" pipeline especially when the Wear twins opted for North Carolina. What a difference a few months makes. Now it seems like players are falling out of the sky enough so that it could be a problem.
Nice problems to have though.

At May 17, 2008, 5:18:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

The rich will get Richer...that's what the UCLA program is all about...
Stephenson and Derozan are welcome....ship Dragovic overseas....and Mustafa...sorry, there is no room....
Simply speechless if we get Morgan and Stephenson....Our second team will crush fools...getcha season tix!!

At May 17, 2008, 6:43:00 AM, Anonymous george said...

Mustafa - "there's no room?" Fortunately, it is Howland and not Bruinfan that runs the program. Howland has class and would not do that. Mustafa is not the most talented kid in a Bruin uniform. That is obvious. However, it is also obvious that he has worked his behind off and sacrificed sweat and blood for this team both for the very few minutes he has been in games and, more importantly, in the practices honing the starters' and more regular bench players skills and muscles and speed. To tell him to "get lost there is no room" is something a fair weather fan might say but I doubt that that is foremost on Howland's mind. (Note, I say fair weather fan because a true fan will support the long term interest of the team which will best be promoted by a coaching staff that shows committment to the students and not to do whatever is expedient to put up a banner. So far, Howland has done just that. And, in the process created, once again, the elite program in college basketball.)

At May 17, 2008, 7:13:00 AM, Anonymous jd said...

completely agree george...these kids aren't meat or a soup of the day. Other schools may treat its kids like that (i.e. SC)...but not at UCLA and esp not under one of the classiest coaches in college- Benjamin Howland!
Thank goodness we have Ben running the program at UCLA. 3 FF, good kids, and clean program.
BTW...Mustafa is a walkon anyways...but you're right he seems to be a good kids - and student-athlete!

At May 17, 2008, 7:31:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

Your response came at a different angle.
I agree w/ what you said.
I am happy if we have solid players 1 thorugh 8, not 12.
I am a believer in Coach BH.
Exciting times to be a Bruin.
Enjoy your weekend people...

At May 17, 2008, 8:58:00 AM, Anonymous george said...

Thanks BF. Sorry I misunderstood you! Go Bruins! BTW, we likely will have solid players 1 through 12. Mustafa would likely get significant minutes at many other D1 schools. Dragovic certainly would. (I don't believe his problem last season was as much lack of talent or potential but a lack of work ethic and problems fitting into the Howland system.)

At May 17, 2008, 10:06:00 AM, Anonymous Rob said...

Bruinfan: We both agree with George, but I can understand getting carried away with the moment. These are exciting times. Still, I want to hear more super-official announcements before I get too worked up.

At May 17, 2008, 5:51:00 PM, Anonymous alan said...

indeed...we still haven't heard an official announcement from J'Mison Morgan, which is suspicious since you would think an announcement would coming pretty fast if he really was "99%" coming to UCLA
in the meantime, the longer we wait, the longer J'Mison will be hearing from other programs that will promise him the WORLD if he would just join them
he may also hesitate if he starts to believe that the UCLA front court is getting crowded (with Stepheson) now in the picture, etc etc

At May 18, 2008, 12:53:00 AM, Anonymous Scary Larry said...

I agree with alan. Why is it taking so long with Morgan? The longer it takes, the less likely it would seem it will happen. And if Morgan things Stepheson is now coming... we could end up losing both. Worse yet... to $C.

At May 18, 2008, 2:40:00 AM, Anonymous george said...

Come on, to $UC? Why would any player right now worth his salt choose the Figueroan Flunkies? It is very possible that they will face post-season sanctions and possibly be banned from the tournament. Even Derozan who has already committed to $UC is watching the situation carefully and has said he may ask out of his LOI depending upon the situation. Further, LAT reports today that Morgan's mom states that her son WILL attend UCLA in the fall and that the announcement is delayed due to paperwork. UCLA basketball is on a Roll right now. The program will be fine - with or without Morgan. But, I suspect that it will be with him as all reports suggest.

At May 18, 2008, 4:07:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

George, stellar reporting...
I am throwing a J'mison Morgan Signing the Paperwork Party...soon
BBR, u in w/ me?
I'm in Westwood...

At May 18, 2008, 5:13:00 AM, Anonymous Scary Larry said...

George... good post. I got a little over anxious. You're totally right. Now, what about Stepheson?

At May 20, 2008, 4:04:00 PM, Anonymous bruin102champs said...

keep in mind it's Morgan who lucked out. I'm sure he considered ucla before he committed but probably went with LSU because of the uncertainty of whether Love was going to be around. then unexpectedly LSU fired the coach, and Morgan had a chance to get out, and go to a championship caliber team where he would likely start, instead of staying and rebuild at LSU with new coaches etc. he really lucked out all this happened after Love declared for the draft.


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