At the beginning of each new year, Phenom Hoops works to assemble a series of articles centered around unsigned senior prospects. Last season, over one hundred players from North Carolina went on to play at the Division I, II, III or NAIA levels, and that number looks likely to continue increasing with the current senior class. Typically, we take a closer look at guys who are overlooked and underrated, and today’s edition will highlight Justin Stephens of Corinth Holders.
There are numerous situations where high school prospects actually become better players after getting to the next level, and it feels like that could be the case with Stephens. He’s a smart, heady guard prospect with the ability to score from all three levels or operate as a primary playmaker. Stephens is quick and touches the paint quite regularly, where he’s able to finish or set up others with consistency. He’s great in transition and understands how to contain his assignment defensively. Stephens operates within the framework of the team and knows how to maximize his touches on offense. With more surrounding tools, Stephens could be even better.
We’ve seen Stephens at multiple different camps, including one of our most recent in October, where we stated: “Moving onto a player that was easily among the most productive scorers on this team, Justin Stephens. He’s a smooth, team-first guard prospect that simply knows how to score the ball with efficiency from all three levels. Stephens is a reliable creator for himself and others with the ability to consistently find seams within the defense and capitalize with buckets. He is a sharp, willing passer that moves well without the ball and rebounds much bigger than his size would imply. Next in his development process is working on the use of his off-hand, as it would make him a more even-handed creator off the dribble. Coach Gary on Stephens: “Justin was a beast all day. Most people would look at his super athleticism and miss his other skills. He can shoot with range, score in a variety of ways from midrange, and get out and run in transition—where he finishes consistently. He has a great handle and good basketball IQ. He can continue working on making one move and going along with his pull-up jumper from three-point range.” Stephens was among the most consistent performers on this team and should be a primary leader this season for Corinth Holders.”
Everything said has only become truer over the last few months, as Stephens separated himself as the clear leader of this group. He carried his weight on both sides of the ball despite some struggles as a team. Stephens averaged a strong 14.8 PPG while consistently mixing it up and keeping the opposition on their toes. Between camps and his high school production, it’s easy to see a scenario where Stephens has great success at the next level. Only time will tell, but college coaches would be wise to take a hard look at Stephens before it’s too late.