Don’t be alarmed if you haven’t heard of Andre Stephens before. Fact of the matter is that not many people have heard of the junior from tiny Heidelberg (MS) High. However, just because the six-foot-eight and 220 pound Stephens hails from a town of only 500 or so people doesn’t mean he hasn’t made a splash where it matters most, with college coaches.
Among the programs that have either called on or come out to see Stephens -- who is averaging 23 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and five blocks a game -- are Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi State, Mississippi, Southern Mississippi, Georgetown, Louisville, LSU and Kentucky. According to his high school coach Ted Williams, they have good reason.
“He is improving game by game and in college he’ll probably play the four. He shoots real well out to 12 to 15 feet and is very active around the basket,” Williams told Phog.net. “He really reminds you a lot of (Tim) Duncan in the way he handles himself. He’s soft spoken, but he plays the big games tough.”
Stephens had one brief opportunity at last summer’s Nike All-American Camp to show what he was capable of but had to leave the camp due to illness after just a day and a half. Still, he has proven that he is an athletic player with the makings of a strong frame who is capable of running the court and playing either facing or with his back to the basket.
Of course his coach would like to see him work on a few areas of his game.
“If I do have a negative it is that at times he plays soft, it’s a rarity but it comes out sometimes and we’ve been working with him on that,” said Williams. “At this age kids want to go to the gym and play instead of going down to a goal and working individually on the things that can improve them as a player, but he’s coming around.”
After sending assistant coach Joe Dooley out to watch him earlier this season, Kansas has continued to show interest in Stephens.
“He (Dooley) calls weekly or pretty close to it,” said Williams of Kansas’ interest in his star player. “He simply says that they like him and that they are recruiting one or two big men for 2006 and he’s interested in this kid.
“Kansas is going to go all over the country to recruit kids so it’s quite impressive that they would come to our little school to watch him.”
Having already seen the campuses of Mississippi State, Southern Miss and LSU in an unofficial capacity, Stephens is wide open.
“I think he’s really looking forward to his official visits,” said Williams. “He really wants to experience what’s out there for him.”
This spring and summer Stephens will most likely take the court with the Jackson Panthers and he’s received an invitation to Adidas Superstar camp. His coach is sure that he’ll make a big splash and thinks that he could merit McDonald’s All-American consideration when it is all said and done, but feels that it will be other things that attract people to Stephens.
“He’s got tremendous character and a high basketball IQ,” finished Williams. “He’s a good student and I’ve never had a problem with him. Every coach would love to have a kid like him in their program.”