Friday, February 1, 2013
By Matt Giles
When he arrived om campus several seasons ago, it was unknown what to expect from D.J. Stephens. The forward was extremely athletic, but lacked the necessary skills to compete on a regular basis; it was an achievement for Stephens to enter the game and block a few shots. However, now a senior, Stephens has become on the Memphis' most explosive scorers and has boosted the squad's interior defense.
Stephens only uses 56 percent of Memphis' minutes, yet he leads the team in offensive rating -- 131.4 -- a rate that also ranks him tenth in the nation, per Ken Pomeroy. He is very dependent on the other Tigers to get him the ball in the best scoring situation, but Stephens is also able to convert on the interior from offensive rebounds; his offensive rebounding rate of 10.3 percent is second on the squad.
His addition, though is mainly felt on the defensive side of the ball. Jason L. Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal recently reported Stephens had four blocks against East Carolina, further increasing his lead in the Conference USA block standings. His ability to help from the defensive weak side has led to a block rate of over ten percent, which in turn, has helped bolster Memphis' defense: the Tigers only allow conference teams to shoot 40 percent within the arc.