Eastern Michigan a ‘good environment’ for Penn Hills’ Stephens

Friday, May 18, 2018 | 2:54 PM

Entering his senior season, Penn Hills basketball player Daivon Stephens wasn't receiving the college scholarship offers he hoped for.

However, after leading Penn Hills to a WPIAL Class 6A title and showing off his skills on the AAU circuit, Stephens received an offer from Eastern Michigan in April and decided to commit a few weeks later.

“I took an official visit about a week or two ago. I really liked it up there a lot as well as the coaching staff. It just seemed like a good environment for me and the way they play,” Stephens said.

In the presence of former Penn Hills greats and those from the community, Stephens made his announcement official, signing a letter of intent in his home gym at the alumni game between Penn Hills and Wilkinsburg on May 12.

“It was a great moment. It just felt good with everybody being there and cheering for me,” Stephens said.

The versatile 6-foot-6 forward averaged 17.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.3 blocks for the Indians, who won their first WPIAL title since 2003. He had a double-double in the finals with 23 points and 11 rebounds to defeat Pine-Richland, 60-56, at Petersen Events Center.

“What he was able to do in the playoffs is as good as it could get. He played exceptionally well and had the right attitude and work ethic to be able to get us where we were,” Penn Hills coach Dan DeRose said.

Stephens, who was mulling offers from IUP and Southern Connecticut, was chosen for the Trib 10. He plans to major in sports management.

Eastern Michigan, which is part of the Mid-American Conference, finished second in the West division with a 22-13 record overall and 11-7 conference mark.

The Eagles lost 64-63 to Toledo in the semifinals of the MAC tournament. Eastern Michigan accepted a bid to the CollegeInsider.com tournament and lost to Sam Houston State, 69-62, in the second round of the CIT.

The recruitment process took a positive turn after Stephens' performance for the ITPS Wildcats at the Adidas Gauntlet in Indianapolis in late April.

“Whatever God wanted to happen … I thought just waiting it out, the offers were going to come. I kept playing AAU to see what would happen. Good things happened since I got Eastern Michigan to look at me,” Stephens said.

DeRose believes Stephens has been prepared properly to make the jump to the collegiate level.

“The type of player he can be at that level is that he can be very versatile. He's going to have to play a bigger guard position, and I think he's been groomed for that the last couple of years. We used him in those situations to handle the ball and to be a playmaker,” DeRose said.

“It has expanded his capabilities and made him more valuable for the next level, and I think that has paid off.”

Stephens, who will continue to refine his guard skills, is excited to join the Eastern Michigan program in the upcoming weeks and get acclimated to the Eagles' style of play.

“They're getting a great player,” Stephens said. “A good teammate. An all-around player but just have to work on my game a little more to get up to the top.”

Andrew John is a freelance writer.


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