Lance Stephenson commits to Cincinnati Bearcats

University of Cincinnati head men’s basketball coach Mick Cronin announced today that Lance Stephenson (Brooklyn, N.Y./Abraham Lincoln), a 6-6 forward and a 2009 McDonald’s High School All-American, has signed a financial aid agreement with the Bearcats and will join the team for the 2009-10 season.

“We are very excited about Lance’s decision to become a Bearcat,” said Cronin. “Lance has terrific talent as a basketball player, and is also a fierce competitor on the court. His desire to win will help us compete for a BIG EAST Championship.

“As a big guard, Lance brings playmaking ability and versatility to our team, along with his talent for scoring. We look forward to getting Lance here for summer school and building our team for the upcoming season.”

Stephenson joins the Bearcats after a highly-decorated prep career at Lincoln, where he averaged 28.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists to earn Class AA New York State Sports Writers Association (NYSSWA) Player of the Year honors his senior year. He graduated high school as the all-time leading scorer in the history of the state of New York with 2,946 points, passing fellow Lincoln High grad Sebastian Telfair, who was the 13th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft and now plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In 2008-09, Stephenson led Lincoln to an overall record of 22-11 and an unprecedented fourth consecutive Public School Athletic League (PSAL) Class AA championship. He scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 78-56 victory over John F. Kennedy in the league championship game. Stephenson, a three-time NYSSWA first-team selection, led the Railsplitters to state semifinals appearances his final three seasons, including Federation Tournament championships in 2007 and 2008.

Selected to play in the 2009 McDonald’s All-American Game, Stephenson finished his high school career with 12 points, six assists and three steals as his East squad knocked off the West, 113-110, in the annual high school all-star showcase.

Stephenson joins fellow incoming freshmen Sean Kilpatrick and Jaquon Parker to complete Cronin’s fourth recruiting class at UC. Also joining the first-year newcomers will be Ibrahima Thomas and Eddie Tyree, who both sat out last year after transferring. Tyree is eligible at the start of the season, while Thomas will sit out until the completion of the first quarter since he transferred following the first quarter last year. Finally, redshirt freshman Cashmere Wright, a nationally-ranked point guard, rounds out the five incoming players after missing last season with a knee injury.

For the fourth straight year, the Bearcats look to improve their win total from the year before, climbing from 11 victories in Cronin’s first year in 2006-07 to 13 in 2007-08 to 18 2008-09. This season, Cincinnati returns its most experienced squad since Cronin’s arrival, including two-time all-BIG EAST Conference guard Deonta Vaughn (15.3 ppg and 4.7 apg in 2008-09) and 2009 BIG EAST all-Rookie honoree Yancy Gates (10.6 ppg and 6.1 rpg).

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