Penn State Basketball: Lamar Stevens Set To Test NBA Waters, But Not Ruling Out Return
Penn State junior forward Lamar Stevens will hire an agent and test the NBA Draft waters. He announced the news during a surprise media session at the Bryce Jordan Center on Tuesday following Pat Chambers' season-ending press conference.
“I’m going to retain my eligibility by staying in school and doing all the right things,” Stevens said. “Through the new rules, I’m able to hire an agent and I have hired an agent. With full intent to stay. like I said, I’m gonna retain my eligibility, keep going to class. It’s been a great process so far. Me and Coach (Pat Chambers) have been talking about this for a while in the off-season. He (offered) full support of me.”
Stevens was asked to expand on his intent to stay, and was slightly less committal, but not without cause.
“This is my dream. I feel like my game is really ready and I’m really confident. So I feel that once I get in front of the NBA personnel I can really impress. So right now my No. 1 focus is the draft and just focusing on the NBA. But if I don’t get the feedback I like, or if they tell me another year will really improve my stock. then I’m gonna come back and help this team go to new heights.”
Those new rules Stevens referenced, passed prior this season, allow NCAA players to hire an agent without losing their remaining eligibility. Stevens noted that he is still going to class, set to graduate a year from now, currently in the second semester of his junior year, academically.
Stevens declined to comment on what feedback from the Draft Advisory Board would result in him leaving Penn State for a professional career. April 11th is the deadline for requesting an evaluation from the board. Stevens is also permitted to work out for NBA teams and can participate in the NBA Combine among other developmental events, if invited, held in mid-May.
He was also noncommittal if the NBA and its various development systems was the only professional route he is willing to accept at this point.
"When the time comes I'm going to sit and evaluate what teams like me and where they fall," Stevens said. "I'm going to discuss it over with my coaches and my family and come up with the best decision for me."
Stevens is unsure of the timeline he is setting for a final decision, although an NCAA related withdrawal deadline would require that he remove his name from the process by May 29th.
And if he were to return, Stevens knows that he will be heading back to a Penn State team poised to make a run in the Big Ten and potentially an elusive NCAA Tournament berth.
Stevens averaged 19.9 points and 7.7 rebounds this past season for the Nittany Lions, good enough to earn first team All-Big Ten honors from the league's coaches, and second team recognition from the conference media.
"I think we're going to be really good if I do come back," Stevens said. "You can just see the growth in the young guys...you saw already what our freshman guards can do and I think they'll be some of the best guards in the league."
"The original reason I wanted to come here was to start a legacy," he added, just 554 points from Penn State's scoring record. "Of course it's important to me. That would be really cool to be able to break the scoring record. That would be an honor for me."
Given the new rules and the career Stevens has had so far, Tuesday's news does not come as much of a surprise. And fortunately for him, there are no bad choices in the long run.
"Honestly for me, it's a win-win," Stevens said. "One way I get to go play professionally. Two, I get to come back to a great school and really end my legacy how I really envision. If I do come back, we'll take this team to places it's never been."