A lot of noise came out a few days ago about the possibility of Lance Stephenson (6’5″, SF), currently being pursued by North Carolina and Duke, being part of a ‘package deal’ with Renardo Sidney (6’9″, PF) to UCLA. This is because of the close friendship shared by the two on the AAU circuit. However, Jeff Eisenberg of the Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA) called Stephenson’s coach to dispel the rumor:
Dwayne Morton, coach at famed Lincoln High in Brooklyn, confirmed that Stephenson and Sidney are good friends from the AAU circuit but cautioned that a package deal with the two of them is still a long shot.
“It has to be the right situation for Lance,” Morton said. “He’s not just going to go somewhere because of Renardo.”
Right now, my understanding is that neither UNC or Duke are really in the mix for Stephenson, and I don’t know of any ACC schools in the mix for Sidney. Both players are ranked in many recruiting services’ top five. Meanwhile, outside the ACC, Stephenson has stated he likes Memphis, Kansas, Indiana and Arkansas.
Speaking of Sidney, a good story that shows insight into the intense fervor that high school recruits are subject to involves two men who tried to ‘woo’ Sidney to another high school:
More than 10 high schools have expressed interest in Sidney, his father said. Sidney ruled out some because, he said, players on their teams told him they don’t always have to do their own work to get grades.
But the Sidney family listened to one recruitment pitch, even though it began surreptitiously. Two men showed up in Mississippi, telling Sidney they were reporters with a new magazine in California and that he was the subject of their cover story.
His mother immediately called Vaccaro; the elder Sidney met the men for lunch. Vaccaro said he believes the two men were trying to persuade Sidney to transfer to Compton’s Dominguez High, which is sponsored by Nike.
“It was scary,” the elder Sidney said. “That was definitely a Hollywood act. They told me two names, but I don’t know if that is their real name. They could have been posing for an agent. . . . So you just never know.”
Sidney said he and his family later visited California and the men gave them tickets on the floor for a Los Angeles Lakers-Minnesota Timberwolves game.
“They took us to the Lakers game; we went out to eat every day,” Sidney said. “We hung out, late nights and stuff. We had fun. They showed us a good time. They wanted me to come out here just to visit Dominguez and see if I would like it or whether I’d go to it. We stopped messing with them. I never thought about [Dominguez]. It was in the ghetto.”
Their recruitment pitch included a phone call that the men said was from Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. When Sidney got on the phone, the man purported to be Bryant and told him he should stay humble and work hard. To this day, Sidney doesn’t know who he spoke to. Bryant could not be reached to comment.
Is it any wonder that kids get the idea to jump to the pros so quickly?
Real Deal Roundup
So the big stud of the Real Deal was apparently Kenny Boynton (6’2″, combo guard), and reports are also that Lance Stephenson also performed well. North Carolina signee John Henson (6’10″ PF/C) had an up-and-down scoring output, but he really is a guy who looks like he could become a superstar.
I don’t think he’s quite there yet, but he sure looks like someone who could develop into an all-ACC player, and he looks like he still is adusting to being a ‘big man’. In that respect, Henson reminds me a little of Mike Dunleavy, a guy who never thought he’d be a forward and then had a massive growth spurt. Also at the Real Deal was UNC target Nolan Dennis (6’5″ SG). Dennis is being pursued by UNC heavily along with Memphis.
I keep hearing that Derrick Favors is likely to stay in the state of Georgia, and that would mean his recruiting would be between Georgia Tech and Georgia. I’m pretty sure North Carolina is out of the running, but that hasn’t stopped Duke from stepping up their recruitment of him.