Stepheson Leads H-W To 3rd Place Finish

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. --- Harvard-Westlake has come to expect a well-rounded performance from its center, Alex Stepheson, and the team got more of the same Saturday night.

Stepheson posted 13 points (5-10 FG), 17 rebounds, five blocks and three assists in a 71-64 win over Birmingham for a third place finish in the Ocean View Tournament of Champions. His performance this week earned him a spot on the All-Tournament team.

In evaluating the 6-10, 230-pound standout, perhaps the toughest challenge is specifying his single biggest strength.

First and foremost, he's got an apparent knack for rebounding and shotblocking. With a big, powerful frame and a spring in his step, he's able to hunt down and haul in rebounds on both ends of the floor, while also patrolling the lane as a shotblocker.

Harvard-Westlake head coach Greg Hilliard agreed, but added, "The thing that a lot of people don't realize is how many shots he changes and how many people get traveling calls and stuff like that because of him – and there are no stats for that."

Ask Stepheson what he does best, and he says rebounding. In the first quarter alone on Saturday night, he grabbed nine boards.

But talk further with him and his coach about his best quality and the conversation turns to the selfless way he plays the game.

When asked to evaluate his play this week, Stepheson said, "I thought I was a good team player in this tournament."

And when discussing his approach to the game, he explained, "I just try to give what I can – points, rebounds, hit the open man."

Which is ideal for an offense that revolves around him.

"We call Alex ‘The Anchor,' Hilliard said. "That's what we've nicknamed him. Basically that reminds the players that we want to go through him and we try to do that most of the time."

The team benefits from this strategy as Stepheson doesn't force anything and let's the game come to him. His scoring production is still a work in progress – of his five field goals on Saturday, they came on two offensive putbacks, a low-post lay-in and a fast break dunk. But he's always willing to pass the ball out and has improved over the past year at finding the open man.

"He's very unselfish and he realizes that he's getting triple coverage," Hilliard said. "He could force something, but that's when he knows he's not real good – because it's tough to go through six arms.

"He's just gotten better and better at kicking it to the open shooters – he's just becoming a very good unselfish passer, he's finding that open cutter."

The overall point worth making – which was apparent on Saturday - is that Stepheson has a major effect on the game.

"You notice that if we take him out, even for two minutes, it changes the whole game," Hilliard said. "He's an impact player."

Alex Stepheson Profile

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