Wild idea: Virginia should take a rider, er, flyer, on VMI center Jake Stephens
Spitballin’ here, wondering whether I can get some interest from the Virginia basketball staff in 6’11” VMI senior Jake Stephens, who has a COVID redshirt year to use next year.
Stephens had one D1 offer coming out of high school, but he’s going to have a few more suitors once he wraps up his time in Lexington.
VMI doesn’t have a grad school, so it’s the transfer portal-or-bust for Stephens, who’s averaging a team-leading 19.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game this season, shooting 55.9 percent from the floor, getting to the line 4.7 times per game, shooting 78.6 percent at the charity stripe.
He told the Roanoke Times this week that he’s going over his options – the transfer portal or pursuing a pro career.
“I’m going to keep playing. I’m not sure where,” Stephens said.
It’ll be at the college level, and he’ll contribute big time to whichever Power 5 school ends up getting him.
Stephens is a unique talent for a big. He leads the SoCon in three-point percentage (48.9 percent), and that’s on a decent volume (4.8 attempts per game).
VMI coach Dan Earl runs the offense through Stephens in the high post, taking advantage of his skills as a passer (he averages 3.3 assists per game) and as a perimeter threat drawing defenders out of the lane, creating gaps for guards to attack with dribble-drives.
As far as fit at UVA, at 6’11”, 266 pounds, he could use his perimeter skills similar to what Jay Huff was able to do his final two seasons (Stephens has an adjusted field-goal percentage of 76.3 percent on spot-ups, per Synergy), as well as set some mean screens in the mover-blocker, finish at the rim on pocket passes (he’s shooting 65.7 percent on lane cuts and 50 percent on pick-and-roll mans) and post-ups (48.1 percent, on 130 usages).
He’s also a solid defender – giving up .838 points per possession on opponent usages, holding opponents to 35.1 percent shooting, according to Synergy Sports.
And then culturally, Stephens would arrive on Grounds with a VMI degree, in computer science, and he was a National Honor Society member in high school.
He’s going to end up somewhere doing somebody some good. Might as well be Virginia.
Story by Chris Graham