By Joe Henricksen
Kendall Stephens of St. Charles East, who is the No. 2 ranked prospect in the Hoops Report's Class of 2013 player rankings, committed to Purdue on Monday. The 6-3 sophomore guard sported offers from the likes of Illinois, Wisconsin, DePaul and Northwestern.
"At Purdue, all the things I was looking for checked off for me," says Stephens, who is averaging 17 points a game after scoring 22 and 23 points this past weekend against Elgin and Batavia.
A part of his early decision was the familiarity Stephens had with Purdue. Kendall's father, Everette, starred at Purdue in the 1980s after a stellar high school career at Evanston. Kendall still has family that lives near Purdue and has made numerous trips to the campus over the years.
"It was the best fit for me," says Stephens. "Being so familiar with Purdue played a part in it, but I also have a connection with staff. They have had a lot of success, I like their style of play and there is a comfort level for me there that helped in making the decision at this time."
Stephens said he didn't feel a need to wait any longer and that his parents were 100 percent behind his decision.
"I just thought, why wait?" said Stephens. "The other schools that offered me were all great schools, but I know this is where I want to be. I also want to focus on getting better as a player and preparing myself for the next level."
St. Charles East coach Brian Clodi has watched the rapid progression of his star sophomore. Like many others, he believes the best is yet to come.
"When I think about him two or three years from now ... wow, the future is going to be a lot of fun to watch when it comes to Kendall and his progression," Clodi says. "He just loves the game, wants to get better and is so driven."
In addition to leading the Saints with 17 points a game, Stephens leads the team in rebounding, steals and blocked shots.
"This year he is still scoring despite every defense we face focusing on him, putting a box-and-one on him," Clodi points out. "But more than anything, a big difference this year is he is just finding ways to make plays."
Stephens shot up the Hoops Report player rankings this summer, landing among the top five prospects in a loaded Class of 2013 in September. For more on Stephens, here is a past Hoops Report blog that ran last September.