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.”