TOC: Alex Stepheson Spotlight

DURHAM, N.C. --- Tar Heel head coach Roy Williams already has verbal commitments from a point guard and two wings from the class of 2006; next week a post player from the same class will be making a visit to the UNC campus.

"I plan on taking an unofficial [visit] there after the tournament," said 6-8 Studio City, Calif. resident Alex Stepheson, from the stands of Cameron Indoor Stadium during pool play of the Tournament of Champions before contributing 16 points, 10 rebounds, three blocked shots, and four assists against an undersized team in a 71-52 win.

According to Roy White, his AAU coach, Stepheson will take the visit to UNC with his parents.

The Tar Heel coaching staff has showed interest through phone calls, but a scholarship is yet to be offered.

The interest is mutual: "I like the basketball tradition, the good academics, and their great coach," Stepheson said.

Currently, the list of schools he is considering consists of Connecticut, North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia Tech, Washington, and UCLA. He plans to decide which five schools will get official visits in the fall by the end of the summer.

Could North Carolina be one of the five?

"I hope so," Stepheson said.

And his interest isn't something born from the recent NCAA championship. It's something that he's had for a while.

"[My opinion] hasn't changed, Stepheson said of the Tar Heels' victory over Illinois on April 4. "I always thought of them as a winner, so winning the national championship just reinforced that."

While he isn't one of the superstars of the class that projects as a possible first option on offense in college, he has some abilities that will allow him to contribute for four years. And one of the qualities that makes him affective is that he understands his strengths and limitations and doesn't try to do things he can't.

"I would say my strengths are rebounding, defense," Stepheson explained matter-of-factly. "I just need to work on my scoring inside game."

At this stage, Stepheson is a solid player, but not 'great.' He can contribute on defense and with rebounding immediately in college, but he's limited on offense, which will keep him in college for four years, as well as the fact that he claims to value an education. And he's willing to learn and work to improve his shortcomings. While his lateral quickness isn't the best, he can be explosive off the floor and can pogo right back up a second time fairly quickly.

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