M College BB
Message board
Weekly lineup
NCAA StatSearch
 Thursday, May 4
Stevenson wants to leap from preps to pros
 By Andy Katz

McDonald's All-America DeShawn Stevenson declared himself eligible for the NBA draft Wednesday despite the wishes of his parents to honor his commitment to Kansas.

Stevenson told ESPN.com that he is ready to become the first high school shooting guard to declare since Kobe Bryant.

"I've got a lot of confidence in myself," Stevenson said. "I won't give up. Nothing scares me. Kobe was the only other shooting guard and I'll be the next one. Everyone else who has come out was a three or four (small or power forward).

"It's something I wanted to do and it's my dream, and I'm going to go ahead and do it."

Stevenson, a 6-foot-5 guard from Washington Union High School in Fresno, Calif., is still not eligible academically for a Division I school but was waiting for a standardized test result.

"DeShawn isn't ready mentally for this game," Stevenson's stepfather, Terry Popps, said. "Athletically he can play there. But it's a big con game out there. DeShawn isn't a street kid. He comes from a home with a mom and dad. He's not Leon Smith."

Smith, who was a ward of the state of Illinois for most of his childhood, was selected by San Antonio with the final pick of the first round in 1999 and then traded to Dallas. Smith had trouble adjusting to NBA life and was hospitalized for a near overdose of over-the-counter medicine. His contract has since been voided and he's out of the NBA.

But high school players Kevin Garnett (Minnesota), Tracy McGrady (Toronto), Jonathan Bender (Indiana), Jermaine O'Neal (Portland), Rashard Lewis (Seattle) and Al Harrington (Indiana) have stayed in the league after declaring out of high school. The two most noteworthy failures outside of Smith were high-schoolers Ronnie Fields and Korleone Young.

Stevenson is widely projected to be a late first-round pick, with Orlando having the most interest. The Magic have employed the services of Mark Jones, a Sacramento high school coach.

Meanwhile, Darius Miles, a 6-9 forward from East St. Louis (Ill.) High and a St. John's signee, is expected to declare for the draft Friday, sources close to Miles at Nike and St. John's told ESPN.com. They said Miles is waiting for a standardized test score before he makes it official. Vancouver, Houston and the Los Angeles Clippers scouted Miles at an all-star game in Louisville last weekend. NBA scouts said Miles would be a lottery pick if he declares.

Mario Austin, a 6-8 forward from York, Ala., who signed with Mississippi State, could be next to declare if he doesn't receive a qualifying test score. Austin told ESPN.com that he would declare for the NBA draft if he's not eligible to play immediately in Division I.

Sources close to Alton Ford, a 6-9 forward from Houston, who signed with the Cougars, could also declare if he's not eligible.

Austin and Ford would likely be drafted in the second round, if at all.

High school players have until May 14 to declare for the draft, just like college underclassmen. But they can't play in college if they declare.

"I'm sure I'm going in the first round," Stevenson said. "If I got the test score earlier, I would have gone to college. But my name is in the air, so it's better to leave."

"He knew all along that he was going," Popps said of Stevenson's plans, even though he signed with Kansas in the fall. "We are scared for him. I'm not saying he won't do well. The league is very young. I don't think there's enough room for DeShawn.

"I wouldn't be disappointed if he went late second round. If he goes early first, I would be very happy. But we thought if he went two years at Kansas he would be a lottery pick."

Popps said Stevenson had a 2.71 grade-point average, and he and his wife, Genice, were confident Stevenson would earn a high enough score on a standardized test to be eligible.

"DeShawn could have gotten an 820 with a GPA of 2.71," Popps said. "We're very bitter with what took place."

Popps said he believes adidas pushed Stevenson to declare for the draft. Stevenson played for the adidas-sponsored and Fresno-based Elite Basketball Organization for the past four years. But the Poppses said the family is also at fault for allowing Stevenson to change high schools, which they say contributed to him leaving.

Sonny Vaccaro, who runs adidas' summer basketball program, denied Popps' charge. Stevenson wasn't in school much after playing in the McDonald's game in Boston and the Vaccaro Roundball Classic in Raleigh, N.C., while also going to the Final Four in Indianapolis -- events endorsed and attended by Stevenson's parents.

Vaccaro said Stevenson told him he was leaving.

"The kid wants to come out," Vaccaro said. "He came to me and asked me, 'Where do you think I'll go.' My answer was, 'You're definitely going in the first round, but you could do a lot better.' "

"This is my decision," Stevenson said. "(My family) is trying to hurt adidas. They had nothing to do with it. My family is being a poor sport about it."

Stevenson said he has not signed with an agent.

Stevenson is 19 years old and doesn't need parental permission to declare for the draft.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Weekly Word: Not ready for prime time

Vitale: Seeing Redd

NBA draft: First-round projections