Cincinnati’s Stephenson to enter draft

Cincinnati freshman Lance Stephenson is entering the NBA

draft.

The Big East’s rookie of the year announced on Wednesday that

he’s going to hire an agent, forfeiting his remaining college

eligibility. The 6-foot-5 guard from New York led the conference in

scoring by a freshman with 12.3 points per game during a highly

inconsistent season.

He finished strong, averaging 16.8 points and 8.3 rebounds over

the final four games. As the season wound down, Stephenson said

repeatedly that he planned to return for his sophomore season

because he hadn’t met his own expectations.

He could have substantially increased his draft status by

staying for at least one more year and improving his all-around

game. Stephenson struggled with his outside shot much of the

season.

Stephenson understands that he’s not going to be a top pick in

the draft.

“I’ve heard from people that Lance needs to stay,” coach Mick

Cronin said. “Lance understands he needs to develop as a player.

He’s going to have a chance to do that as a professional. It’s a

risk, but everything is a risk.”

Cronin flew to New York and met with Stephenson and his family

to discuss the decision.

“They understand he could have played two more years and tried

to be a top-five pick, but their family circumstances are what they

are,” Cronin said. “He has a family that needs help.”