Perry Stevenson set for the Roundball Classic

Perry Stevenson is a very well protected young man. All through his recruitment process, Stevenson was shielded from coaches and the media by his parents and his high school coach, Rick Lebato. Even after he signed with Kentucky, access was guarded. So, to get an update on how well the season is going for Stevenson, KSR checked with Coach Lebato.

(This is part three in a six part series taking a look at how Kentucky's incoming class is doing in their senior years. Part three focuses on Perry Stevenson, the 6'9" power forward from Northside High School in Lafayette, Louisiana.)

Perry Stevenson is a very well protected young man. All through his recruitment process, Stevenson was shielded from coaches and the media by his parents and his high school coach, Rick Lebato. Even after he signed with Kentucky, access was guarded. So, to get an update on how well the season is going for Stevenson, KSR checked with Coach Lebato.

Lebato's team is undefeated so far this season. With his team 10-0, and only four games remaining on the regular season schedule, Lebato is looking forward to the playoffs. "Perry is doing great," said Lebato. "He's averaging right at a double-double, and his scoring average has gone right up, too, while we've been in district {play}." Lebato says, while Perry has been working on improving his game, his team has been working hard to improve, as well. "We've been doing a better job of getting him the basketball. It's very difficult to get guards to understand that. So we're just doing a better job of that, so Perry's productivity has been going up, too." Teams in Northside's district have been devoting their game plans to try and limit Stevenson, ever since he signed with Kentucky. "He gets double teamed. Teams devote their scouting reports to him. They make him the focal point to stop. But I think he's enjoyed that and this season."

For the time being, Coach Lebato and his team are concentrating on the last of the regular season, and then the playoffs. But it is shaping up to be a busy off-season for Stevenson. Once he gets to Kentucky, he'll have to trade in his Reebok gear for Kentucky's Nike duds. Stevenson and his Northside teammates have developed a relationship with Reebok after winning a pre-season tournament with a lot of Reebok reps in attendance. "As a matter of fact, right after that, Perry has been invited to the Roundball Classic," said Lebato. The Roundball Classic is the Reebok post-season showcase. Graduating seniors can only play in two of these showcases, including the McDonald's All-American, if they are lucky enough to be chosen. Reebok invites what they call the top twenty-two players in the nation to the Roundball Classic at the United Center in Chicago. Due to the relationship of Northside to Reebok, Lebato says they feel compelled to play in the Roundball Classic, which would leave only one such showcase in which Perry could play.

Kentucky fans could possibly see Stevenson in action in the Commonwealth in April. Stevenson has been invited to the Derby Festival Classic in Louisville, sponsored by Adidas, and part of the ramp-up to the Kentucky Derby in May. "That one…we're kind of waiting on, because he got nominated for McDonald's {All-American}," said Lebato. "He was also nominated for the Jordan game." The Jordan game is the Capital City Classic played in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Nike, and named for Michael Jordan. So if Stevenson gets picked for either McDonald's or Jordan's team, the Derby game may be the one to fall off the list. "He's supposed to find out about McDonald's at the end of this month," said Lebato, which would put some decisions on Stevenson's table soon.

In the meantime, Stevenson watches Kentucky play every chance he gets. "We watch them," said Coach Lebato. "Every time they come on…what's great about Kentucky is that every game they're on TV. I've got the Direct TV, just for that. The only time we miss them is when they play the exact same time we do. So he knows about them. He knows exactly what they are doing, and he's watching their plays. As a matter of fact, we're running one of Tubby's plays. It's one of his sets that he likes that I got from him. We do a little of his presses. So we have been doing some of their stuff." Stevenson's feelings that he can play early at Kentucky are stronger than ever after watching the Cats this season, according to Lebato. "They told him the front court is where they need some help. They broke it down and we see where they do need some help. We knew that he had an opportunity and a chance to possibly play."

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