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Stephens' stock on the rise
By John Lemon | Daily Herald Columnist

Kendall Stephens


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Published: 1/22/2011 1:21 AM

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It's a good time to be Kendall Stephens.

One week he's playing at Geneva with Purdue coach Matt Painter in the stands. The next week Illinois coach Bruce Weber shows up to offer the 6-foot-3 St. Charles East sophomore guard a scholarship.

On Friday, Stephens put all the college excitement aside for 32 minutes actually it turned out to be 36 minutes when 5-14 Streamwood pushed the Saints to overtime and once again hit the big shots to keep the surprising Saints tied for the Upstate Eight Conference River Division lead.

After starting the year 0-5, St. Charles East is now 8-9 and 5-1 in conference. The Saints can thank several players but it starts with the player coach Brian Clodi calls "our franchise."

Stephens started cold Friday, making 1 of 10 shots in the first half. But that sweet 3-point stroke started connecting in the second half and he finished with 28 points on 9-of-22 shooting from the field, 6 of 14 on 3-pointers and 4 of 7 at the free-throw line. That followed a 31-point game against Willowbrook Monday when Stephens hit 10 of 16 from the field and 5 of 7 of his 3-pointers.

"Kendall didn't come out as focused as we'd like him but then he showed what kind of player he is," Clodi said. "We challenged him at halftime."

Stephens' Illinois scholarship offer this week gives him four along with Northwestern, Wisconsin and DePaul. College coaches love Stephens' shot and are anticipating the type of complete player he'll become as he matures physically.

"It was amazing," Stephens said of Weber's offer to play at Illinois. "It's a winning program. Having that to choose from as far as going to college is amazing. I'm so fortunate and I love the program."

Weber was an assistant at Purdue while Stephens' father Everette played there from 1984-88. Kendall Stephens said Weber and his dad text frequently.

Champaign is just one of Stephens' options. While the rest of Chicagoland will be gearing up for Bears-Packers Sunday, Stephens will be in Evanston at 12:30 p.m. Sunday to see two of those schools play, Wisconsin and the Wildcats.

Next weekend Stephens is headed to Purdue where another scholarship offer could be coming.

Even if that offer comes, don't look for a quick commitment for Stephens who said that his college decision will come either before his junior season or early in his junior year.

"It won't be that fast (next week)," Stephens said. "Before I do I will talk to all my family members and my coach Clodi and see what is the best for me as far as how I'm going to fit in."

While Everette Stephens, now an assistant with the Saints, scored over 1,000 points in a great career at Purdue, his son said following in those footsteps isn't necessarily something he wants to do.

"Yes and no. The best for him was to go to Purdue. But for me it might not be," Kendall Stephens said. "I have to weigh out my decision. It would be nice to go to the same college as him but if it's not the school for me I'm not going to do it."

Stephens thanked his dad for his help in the recruiting process while also praising the work Clodi has done and his AAU coach Mike Mullins.

"Him (my dad) going through all these experiences and sharing them with me definitely helps me out with the situation I'm in," Kendall said.

"(Him), coach Mullins and head coach Clodi, those three guys do a huge amount. Coach Clodi does so much work behind the scenes that most people don't know. And same with my AAU coach. He's so good he can sell anything. It's amazing how he uses words. I'm fortunate I have a great AAU coach and a great high school coach."

Clodi is just as impressed with his best player's work ethic.

"Kendall works so hard in the gym," Clodi said. "He takes more shots than anybody."

There's more colleges than those four interested in Stephens and there could be more to choose from.

"I have my wants but if they don't (want me)... I have some in mind," Stephens said.

Stephens didn't hesitate in describing what is most important in his decision.

"Academics and the second part would be a winning program," Stephens said. "If they win and I have a great connection with the coaching staff that's the second thing I'm looking for."