Roundball: Stepheson Practice Report

CHICAGO --- North Carolina signee Alex Stepheson is known for his defense and rebounding, but the 6-10, 230-pound center displayed a solid offensive game during Saturday's Roundball Classic practice session at DePaul's Athletic Center. Read about his performance in practice, as well as a Q&A with the future Tar Heel.

His offensive game looked significantly improved since we last saw him in action. He used his bulk and size to muscle up with other post men, but also showed off a very nice touch around the basket.

Stepheson utilized a jump hook in the lane to score over a defender on one possession during an intrasquad scrimmage. Then in the East-West scrimmage he scored his points by hitting a 10-foot jump shot and then ran the break a few possessions later and finished it with a dunk.

The future Tar Heel matched up with Greg Oden a number of times in the practice session. Stepheson managed to score a nice lay-in over Oden in a one-on-one drill. The two began the drill at the top of the key and Stepheson went right at the best player in the 2006 class. He muscled up with Oden, took some contact and layed the ball in over Oden's left hand.

"I'm going to catch somebody ... that's the goal. Hopefully it's Greg, but I'm going to get somebody."
In another drill Stepheson showed off his leg strength. The drill started with a ball on each block. He then had to go block to block, grabbing the ball and dunking it. He continued until he had dunked 10 balls. Many players seemed to tire part way through the drill, but Stepheson finished it with ease.

His rebounding was impressive throughout the two-hour session as well. If the ball was in his area and he didn't get the board he at least got a hand on it. Another area where he stood out was his overall strength. The hours he's logged in the weight room with his personal trainer is quite evident.

The only major mistake Stepheson made today was jumping with Lance Thomas on a fast break. Stepheson tried to knock the ball out of the air and ended up being on the receiving end of an alley-oop dunk.

Other Notes

  • Ohio State signee, David Lighty was impressive in the scrimmage attacking the hoop. He had three dunks in the first four minutes of the scrimmage.
  • Fellow OSU signee Daequan Cook had one of the two highlight plays of the day. He caught an alley-oop and flushed it right on top of Earl Clark.
  • The second big time dunk of the session was just like the first except it came from unsigned forward Lance Thomas – the aforementioned dunk on Stepheson.
  • Will Walker appears to be one of the more underrated players in the class of 2006. He looked very good in practice today. He ran his team well and scored when he needed to. He dropped in a sweet floater, drilled a fadeaway and knocked down an open three in the intrasquad scrimmage.
  • The starting lineups for the East vs West scrimmage looked like this: East: Chris Singletary, Darrell Arthur, Eugene Harvey, Curtis Kelly, Alex Stepheson. West: Greg Oden, Bryan Davis, Scottie Reynolds, David Lighty, Patrick Beverly
  • The Roundball Classic game is this Sunday in Chicago at the United Center. The game tips-off at 3 p.m. local time and will air next week on tape delay on CSTV.


Inside Carolina: How has the whole event gone so far?

Alex Stepheson: It's going good - we are just out here hooping. It's fun though we are having a lot of fun. There are a lot of competitive guys, so it's fun playing them.

IC: Is this a lot different than the high school season, because of the level of competition?

AS: Not really. It's playing basketball. No one is Superman, so we are just showing what we can do.

IC: I noticed you and Greg seemed to match up a lot in the post today. How did you think that went?

AS: It's good a good battle. He's a good player so it's always fun battling some one that is physical like you.

IC: What are your expectations for the game?

AS: Go in and get a few dunks. I'm going to catch somebody though I don't know who it is. But I'm going to get somebody. That's the goal. Hopefully it's Greg, but I'm going to get somebody.

IC: Is this all about having fun here? Or is it about the competition too?

AS: It's about having fun. But there is definitely some competitiveness because everybody wants to win and everybody wants to do well. It's going to be fun but real competitive.

IC: What did you think of the alley-oop dunks earlier?

AS: Lance got lucky on that. There are some great players out here. I didn't see Lance coming. I thought I was going to hit it out of the air. I didn't think he was going to catch it. And then he got me.

IC: How do you think you rank with these big guys?

AS: I think I'm right there with them. It's great playing with them and just learning, competing, battling so we will see in the game tomorrow.

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