Pettigrew to meet Tubby Smith in September

Steffphon Pettigrew is looking for some respect. At 6-foot-5, Steffphon looks like a middle linebacker on a football team, big, muscular and strong. That's a good thing, right? Maybe, but it carries some issues as well.

Steffphon Pettigrew is looking for some respect. At 6-foot-5, Steffphon looks like a middle linebacker on a football team, big, muscular and strong. That's a good thing, right? Maybe, but it carries some issues as well.

"I am the center on my high school team," said Steffphon. "We just don't have anyone else my size." That presents some problems – some real and some perceived. As Clark Francis, publisher of Hoop Scoop put it, "He has position issues."

"I think he is a legit candidate, perhaps the leading candidate, for "Player of the Year" honors in Kentucky next year," said coach Kris Vance, who sponsors the adidas-based Derek Smith All Stars, "Steffphon played as well as most of the kids ranked in the top 100 this summer, but has yet to really gather the attention that he deserves."

A lot of that probably has to do with his size. At 6-foot-5 and probably 230 lbs., Steffphon plays more like a power forward, but will have to play a different position in college.

"I know I am going to be a small forward or two-guard in college," Steffphon said, "and some college coaches assume that since I am spending my time at center in high school, that I can't do things that a guard can do."

But Steffphon can do plenty as he showed the world against Seattle Rotary Select on Monday night, when he dropped 44 points on the Pacific Northwest team, eliminating them from the tournament. "I have been working a lot on my midrange game," Steffphon added, "and ball handling."

A lot of those 44 points came against highly regarded Emeka Iweka, a 6-foot-5, 290 lb. man-child who will be headed to Oregon State.

Steffphon has a solid mid-range game and he is working on his 3-point shooting," Vance said, "he gets knocked unfairly for a lot of his wing skills because situations force us to play him against bigger players. It blows me away that he does as well as he does and scores as much as he does, playing against guys four inches taller."

Tubby Smith has been to see Steffphon play in Vegas, as has coach Reggie Hanson and Shawn Finney, who is rumored to be joining the Cats again in some basketball capacity. "Kentucky has been calling me but they have not offered yet. I am not completely certain where I stand," said Pettigrew. "Coach Smith said they liked what they saw in Las Vegas and he said he'd love to talk to me more."

Pettigrew is scheduled to meet with coach Tubby Smith sometime in September to discuss the situation. "As it sits, they have not indicated to me that will offer a scholarship," Pettigrew said, "but they are showing interest. So that's a pretty good sign for me."

Thought he has not gotten an offer from the Wildcats, he has certainly been getting some attention. Marshall, Murray, South Alabama and Bradley have all offered scholarships so far and it's easy to see why. After the 44 point effort, Steffphon followed up with 22 points against a very tough Pump'n Run team – a team coached by a former NCAA Championship coach, Jim Harrick. In that game, Steffphon was once again faced with guarding a large player, 6-foot-9 standout, Austin Day, from Irvine California.

"He played well," said Day, "I was surprised. Their team was small but number 32 (Pettigrew) was strong. He gets up in your face." Considered one of the elite teams in the the adidas Super 64 tournament, the Derek Smith team took and early lead and gave the Pump'n Run team every thing they could handle before falling by just two points.

The effort impressed Clark Francis enough for him to indicate that he would include Steffphon in his updated set of rankings for the first time. "I am not sure where he will end up in the rankings," said Derek Smith coach Steve Berry, but I think a case could be made for him in the top 100."

While it is doubtful that Francis would rank him in the top 100, what is not in doubt is that Steffphon can play basketball, and he is improving. "I was really hoping that his summer play would have gotten him a lot more attention," said Pettigrew's mother, Shannon Coleman, "but if Kentucky were to offer him a scholarship, that would be ideal."

Shannon makes no secret that she'd love to see Steffphon play for Kentucky, "Of course. What mother would not want to see her son play for Kentucky? All that tradition? And it is so close to home for him, I'd be able to see him play a lot."

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