Stepheson is in no rush

Times Staff Writer

Alex Stepheson, the 6-foot-9 sophomore from North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake High, will take it slow while considering his options on where to play college basketball next season.

Stepheson's mother, Diane, said Saturday morning that Alex had returned from Chapel Hill, N.C. The decision will be made partly based on a college that is near home because Stepheson's father suffers from an undisclosed illness that nearly caused Stepheson to transfer at midseason.

Stepheson, a power forward, was recruited by UCLA before he chose North Carolina.

Stepheson's mother also said playing time would be important and that USC would be on the list. With the likely loss of freshman center Kevin Love to the NBA and possible loss of power forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to the pros and backup center Alfred Aboya to graduate school, UCLA might have plenty of post playing time available.

UCLA, which has made three consecutive Final Four appearances, is still waiting on paperwork from Dallas South Oak Cliff High center J'Mison Morgan. Morgan, a 6-11 center who signed a letter of intent last November to play for Louisiana State, was given his release after John Brady was fired as coach and Trent Johnson was hired. Morgan was recruited by UCLA last fall before deciding on LSU. Morgan's mother, Bianca, indicated Saturday that the family is getting the correct paperwork faxed to UCLA, and that is holding up a formal announcement but that UCLA is the school her son will attend in the fall.

Stepheson's situation is complicated by his father's undisclosed illness. Normally a student-athlete who transfers must sit out a season but the NCAA can decide to waive the rule under special circumstances. Moving to be closer to an ill family member is one of those circumstances.

So it is possible Stepheson could join Morgan, 6-9 freshman recruit Drew Gordon from San Jose Archbishop Mitty and possibly Aboya and Mbah a Moute in the frontcourt next season.


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