“Born ready” is one step closer to living up to his moniker.
Former Lincoln HS star Lance Stephenson inked an undisclosed multi-year contract with the Indiana Pacers last week, just weeks after he thrived in the NBA’s Orlando summer league, averaging nearly 15 points per game.
The second-round pick, who spent one year at the University of Cincinnati and was named the Big East Rookie of the Year, also led the league in field goal percentage at 73 percent and was second on his team in scoring. Team president Larry Bird said shortly after the draft he was surprised Stephenson was available at the 40th pick.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” his father, Lance Stephenson Sr., said. “We got a good team and they got a good player. The Pacers have been a class organization. They treated him like a first-round pick. It’s a good day for both sides.”
Stephenson was in Indiana and unable to be reached for comment.
The Pacers used the 6-foot-5 Stephenson, 19, at both guard spots, but it was at point guard, a position he seldom played during high school or college, where he opened eyes. The move worked well, as the Coney Island product excelled as a playmaker, not only for himself, but those around him.
“The deal reflects a commitment by both sides,” said Stephenson’s agent, Alberto Ebanks. “Today marked the realization of a lifelong dream and at the same time the start of a new and exciting chapter in his life. He is playing for a great coach, for a Hall of Fame boss and in a town rich in basketball history. Who could ask for more?”
The next test for the all-time leading scorer in New York State history is training camp.
“I’m just happy everybody saw the talent in him,” said Dwayne (Tiny) Morton, who coached Stephenson at Lincoln. “He proved a lot of people wrong. He’s got a chance to show everybody he can play. He made his dream come true.”