By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
CORAL GABLES, Fla, March 31 -- Inside a banquet room adjacent to the BankUnited Center court where the McDonald's High School all-American games will be held, 45 of the preeminent boys' and girls' basketball players in the country gathered around circular tables and munched on boxed lunches.
One player was conspicuously absent, the one who was supposed to hold a news conference at precisely 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday to reveal his college choice. At 12:23 p.m., Lance Stephenson, a 6-foot-5 guard from Brooklyn, N.Y., emerged, only to announce there was nothing yet to say.
"I know everyone is here for me to make my announcement, but my family and I want to wait it out," said Stephenson, one of the nation's top unsigned prospects. "It's a tough decision, so I'm just going to take my time and have fun here at the McDonald's game."
The three schools Stephenson said remained at the top of his list -- Kansas, St. John's and Maryland -- were left to linger a little while longer. The late signing period for basketball recruits runs from April 15 through May 20.
Maryland began pursuing Stephenson last fall, though its recruitment efforts did not come to light until Stephenson made an official visit to College Park in late January.
It had been widely speculated in recent weeks that Stephenson would choose Kansas, but Maryland Coach Gary Williams traveled to Glens Falls, N.Y., on Saturday to see Stephenson and Maryland-bound forward James Padgett play for Lincoln High in the New York Class AA semifinals.
Late Monday night, Lance Stephenson Sr. called McDonald's all-American public relations officials to inform them his son was postponing any announcement regarding a college decision. One official said they "spent some time" explaining to Lance Sr. that much of the media contingent had come specifically to learn of his son's decision, but to no avail.
The family made the respective coaching staffs at Kansas, St. John's and Maryland aware of its decision to delay late last week. "It just came," Lance Sr. said. "Just like, you know, when you pick your school it's a feeling. We just decided to weigh out all the options before we made the decision."Marshall Hires Coach
Bill Lapthorn has been hired as Marshall High School's football coach, Athletic Director Joe Swarm announced. Lapthorn was an assistant coach at Winton Woods High School in his native Cincinnati for five years before moving to Northern Virginia. He was an offensive coordinator at South Lakes before becoming a varsity assistant at Marshall in 2007.
Lapthorn, 32, replaces J.T. Biddison, who began a turnaround at Marshall, taking the Statesmen from an 0-10 finish in 2003 to the program's first playoff berth in nearly 20 years in 2007. Biddison, who went 26-36 in six seasons at Marshall, left the program to become the head coach at West Springfield. . . .
Oakton boys' basketball coach Chuck McDaniel has been fired, Athletic Director Pete Duperrouzel confirmed. "We're going in a different direction," Duperrouzel said. "It was an administrative decision."
McDaniel, who went 6-35 in two seasons with the Cougars, was the program's fourth coach in six years. Special correspondent B.J. Koubaroulis contributed.