05/10/2010 11:41 AM ET
Stephenson making strides in Vegas
Former Lincoln High, Cincinnati star shows improvement
By Adam Zagoria / SNY.tv
Lance Stephenson has refined his game and lowered his body fat while training in Las Vegas this spring. (AP)

Andrew Moore has been working with Lance Stephenson every day for five weeks at the Impact Basketball Academy in Las Vegas.

And Moore says Stephenson is making great strides toward playing in the NBA.

"I think somebody's going to like him. He's an ultimate competitor," Moore, a coach at Impact Basketball who has worked with Kevin Garnett, Danny Granger, Corey Maggette, Baron Davis and Al Harrington, said Monday by phone.

Led by founder Joe Abunassar, Impact Basketball lists those players, along with Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince, Dwight Howard, Ron Artest and Paul Pierce among its most accomplished alumni.

The 6-foot-5 Stephenson, nicknamed "Born Ready" during his historic career at Brooklyn Lincoln High School, declared for the NBA Draft after his freshman season at Cincinnati.

Last week he signed with agent Alberto Ebanks, the longtime Stephenson family attorney, meaning he has lost his college eligibility.

Stephenson, who averaged a Big East freshmen-best 12.3 points per game, was invited to the NBA Combine in Chicago May 19-23.

The NBA Draft is June 24 in New York.

At the Impact Academy, Stephenson is training alongside numerous other potential NBA draft picks, including UConn senior wing Stanley Robinson, Kansas senior point guard Sherron Collins, Louisville senior guard Edgar Sosa and West Virginia sophomore wing Devin Ebanks. Sosa and Ebanks are both New York natives.

The all-time leading scorer in New York State history, Stephenson was often criticized during his high school and brief college career for his penchant for attacking defenses one-on-one and not involving his teammates in the offense.

But Moore says that is changing in Las Vegas.

"He's really focused," Moore said. "He understands his deficiencies. He tended to be a one-on-one player. Now he's play-making in the three-on-threes."

Stephenson made just 21.9 percent of his 3-pointers at Cincinnati and also committed a team-high 81 turnovers.

Moore says his shooting has also improved in Vegas.

"On the court, he's making NBA 3's consistently," Moore said. "He's catching and shooting off the dribble. He's really done well."

Stephenson was listed at 210 pounds at Cincinnati, but Moore says they have worked to make him leaner and stronger.

"He's been a pleasure," Moore said. "He comes in every day and works hard. He's supremely focused. We looked at his body and leaned him out. He's lost some of his body fat."

Asked exactly how much body fat Stephenson had lost, Moore said he wasn't certain.

"He's lost a good percentage," he added. "He's more defined and in turn he's more explosive. He's really benefited from losing a little bit of weight and he's gained lean muscle mass."

Stephenson has been projected by DraftExpress.com and NBADraft.net as a late-first or early-second round pick, but Moore says Stephenson could end up surprising some people.

"He's an unbelievable competitor in a great way," Moore said. "When we do one-on-ones and three-on-threes, he turns it up to a different level. That's going to really carry him far, and I think somebody's going to really like that."

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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