04/07/2010 9:05 AM ET
Stephenson to declare for NBA Draft
Brooklyn product leaving Cincinnati after freshman season
By Adam Zagoria and Sal Miciotta / SNY.tv
Experts expect Lance Stephenson to be selected in the early second round of the 2010 NBA Draft. (AP)

NEW YORK -- After initially saying he would remain at Cincinnati for his sophomore season, Brooklyn's Lance Stephenson has decided to go the one-and-done route, SNY.tv has learned.

The 6-foot-5 guard will submit his paperwork to the NBA and plans to enter the June NBA Draft.

"I have decided to withdraw from the University of Cincinnati and enter my name into this year's NBA draft," Stephenson said. "After carefully reviewing my options, it is now clear to me that the need to emotionally and financially support my family, especially my young daughter, along with my long-standing and burning passion to play in the NBA, outweighs my desire to return to the University of Cincinnati.

"I want to thank the administration, the athletic department and the entire coaching staff, especially Mick Cronin and Tony Stubblefield at the University of Cincinnati, for their support and guidance over the course of this past year. It was and always will be a privilege to be a Bearcat."

Stephenson has a 2-year-old daughter, Liara.

"My daughter has played a big role in my life," Stephenson previously told SNY.tv. "Ever since she came, I've just been real focused. I take everything more serious. I'm just more mature."

Both NBADraft.net and DraftExpress.com currently project Stephenson as an early second-round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

"If he put his name in the draft right now, he'd still get drafted," Stubblefield said last month at the Big East tournament. "I think he could go anywhere from the late first round to early second, but I definitely think he would be drafted."

Stephenson averaged 12.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists and earned Big East Preseason and Postseason Rookie of the Year honors. He scored a career-high 23 points in a March 6 loss at Georgetown.

"We feel as a family this is the best thing for Lance's future, and he is ready for the NBA," Lance Stephenson Sr. said. "After winning Big East Rookie of the Year and playing at the Big East tournament, we got a lot of positive feedback from people in NBA circles."

Still, concerns remain about his handle, ability to shoot from outside, ability to go left and to keep the ball moving among teammates, as well as his character.

"The thing with Stephenson is he's been all over the place," said one West Coast NBA scout. "I think he's very, very talented. I had ambivalent feelings about his year in Cincinnati. He showed flashes of brilliance and then he would go over and play on the side just like a role player. He was used a complementary piece, not as the main man. A lot of NBA people felt he was the most talented player on that team by far.

"He went along with the gameplan and he let the older players, the juniors and seniors, kind of run the show.

"I think basically he has pretty good [shooting] form. He needs to work to perfect his stroke and if he's coming out, that will be his job. I also thought by the end of the season, he was putting on some weight. I saw him a couple of years ago at LeBron James' Camp and he dominated that. "We heard a lot of different stories about him, but he didn't seem to cause any problems down there at Cincinnati. Today in the NBA, 50 percent of it is scouting and 50 percent of it is background check to find out what kind of person he is."

Stephenson initially said he "definitely" planned to remain in school another year.

"I felt like I didn't show everybody the Lance Stephenson that everybody wanted to see, so I'm just going to come back, show everybody that I'm a winning player and that we're going to try to win," he said last month.

Stubblefield said there would be nothing disappointing about Lance coming back for another season, but it appears he has no plans to do so.

"I definitely think if he stays next year, he can have an opportunity to be a lottery pick," Stubblefield said. "That depends on how hard he works and how much he improves on his game."

Adam Zagoria is a regular contributor to SNY.tv. Read his blog at ZagsBlog.com and follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AdamZagoria.
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