2006 big man bursts onto the scene

While other players were scrambling to earn a scholarship to any school, Alex Stephenson was serving notice. Some players hope that any college will offer a full ride, but not Stephenson. The big man was letting folks know that only the elite schools need apply.

Alex Stephenson is a big man from Hollywood's Harvard-Westlake High School and he looks like he can be one of the West Coast's best big men in 2006. He was the best player on the court when we went out to watch the always loaded Pump N Run squad over the weekend in Las Vegas.

The first thing you notice about Stephenson is that he is mobile. He gets up and down the court and is a great finisher on the break. He loves to dunk and that is the best weapon in his arsenal. He's very aggressive and attacks the rim non-stop.

Like most mobile big man, Stephenson compares his game to a certain athletic big man who plies his trade in the Twin Cities.

"I want to play like Kevin Garnett," Stephenson said. "I like Carmello and I like LeBron a lot, those are my three favorite players. When I'm down low I like playing like Shaq sometimes. I think I can be like KG, a power forward, small forward type combo."

Stephenson is hearing from a number of teams, but has not created a short list. He mentioned that he is not limiting himself to the West Coast, but really does not know who he likes. The big man has always watched basketball, but never looked at colleges in terms of playing for a certain team. His interest was always as a casual fan.

"I always liked certain teams because of their colors and stuff like that, but now I'm starting to really look at coaches, players, locations and surroundings," Stephenson confessed. "I'm trying to figure out where I'll best fit in." He does know one thing he wants in a school, playing time. He doesn't want anything handed to him, but does want an opportunity to compete for early playing time.

He should be a legit center. Although he is 6-9 right now, the prognosis is very good for him to get even bigger.

"I'm supposed to be 6-11," Stephenson said. "That's what the doctors say."

He may not have a list of schools, but the Wildcats are an early favorite in the mix. He has been in contact with several Arizona coaches and wants to come to Tucson.

"I was supposed to take a visit there over spring break, but they had to be at the NCAA Tournament," Stephenson explained. "I talk to the coaches a lot, I really like them."

He has no timetable for a decision and is in no rush to pull the trigger early. For now he is focusing on the summer recruiting circuit with an eye to next season. Although Harvard-Westlake won the CIF, they failed to hold their national ranking.

"We were ranked 16th nationally in the preseason but dropped off," said Stephenson, obviously agitated. "We should be good again next year."

CAT TRACKS' ANALYSIS: Stephenson is the real deal. He can do a lot of things and physically looks older than a high school sophomore. He has a lot of strength to go with his mobility. The Cats are in early and that's a good thing as this kid is great.

Photos by Carl F. Shifflette III

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