Sunday, February 24, 2013
Stephens' increased role
By Matt Giles
D.J. Stephens had played an interesting role on this season's Memphis team. The 6-foot-5 Stephens originally committed to Memphis as the ultimate project, a player blessed with a monstrous vertical -- as evidenced by Stephens' ally-oop in a win over Southern Miss -- but possessed a raw skill-set.
Stephens has evolved into a starter for Josh Pastner and his staff, but what is interesting about the senior is how his role has changed in 2013. At the beginning of the year, Stephens was the ultimate effort player, a forward capable of skying over defenders for the rebound and flying on the break for a slam. Stephens' defensive rebounding percentage leads the team, and he is also able to snag 10.2 percent of Memphis' offensive boards. However, in the past two games, Stephens' offensive role has completely shifted; he is beginning to contribute scoring. Before the past two games, wins over Houston and USM, Stephens had only attempted 78 two-point field goals (of which he had converted three-quarters of those attempts). In those two wins, though, Stephens has scored 30 points and taken fourteen twos. As noted by John Gasaway, Stephens has DI's top offensive rating -- 136 -- for any player who is defined as a 'never-shoot role player.'