It started at the Marshall County HoopFest. Back in Bentonville, A.J. Stewart rose to the occasion for Arlington Country Day and the 6-foot-8 forward hasn't looked back since his big game on the national stage.
"That was the first big game of the season and then we went to Hawaii," Stewart said. "I knew we'd be traveling a lot and I was just measuring to see what I could go. Coach gave me the green light to do what I could do. I'm playing with a lot of confidence this season. I kept that momentum the whole time."
Stewart always had the look of a prospect and as time has passed, he's gone from prospect to player. "I like it," Stewart said of his maturation. "For a while I was just on the practice squad. They told me my time would come and I like it. This is what I've been waiting on."
Stewart is one of many good players on the ACD roster. He doesn't mind playing a complimentary role, especially if that means W's. "On our team we've got a lot of good players. Some games I'll have 20 (points) and other games 10-12; we just win,"
As he's gained confidence on the court, he's gained admirers off it. Stewart says that programs are beginning to make themselves more visible in his recruitment, though it's still early in the process.
"I don't know if they have to have me but I talk to a lot of coaches on the phone. I know Miami (wants me). I talk to coaches from Florida and I get a lot of mail from them. It's the Florida schools and Auburn and Alabama."
Stewart added that Clemson and Texas are recruiting him and will undoubtedly watch him this spring with the Tallahassee Wildcats, his new AAU team.
Ask Stewart who he's most interested in at this stage and two names emerge: Illinois and Miami. Though he's yet to converse with Bruce Weber, he likes the way Illinois plays.
"I have some schools that I like now but everyone is telling me to wait until the end of summer and see what I'm working with then and then start to weed them out," Stewart said.