Stephens plans surgery with ‘no regrets’
St. Charles East senior Kendall Stephens says he didn’t need a doctor to tell him what he already knew.
As last week unfolded with no progress to his beleaguered right shoulder, he and his family sensed that, this time, there would be no playing through the injury.
“I didn’t go to the doctor at all, I just knew my body,” Stephens said after Saturday night’s Saints win against Evanston. “It was hurting and it didn’t feel right. I gave it four or five days of rest and it didn’t change so I knew that I needed to have surgery.”
Stephens, a Purdue-bound shooting guard, played the first month-plus of the season despite suffering a torn labrum during preseason practice. He aggravated the injury Dec. 27 while trying to strip the ball away from a Stevenson player during a Proviso West Holiday Tournament game.
“It’s totally the worst motion you could possibly do for this injury,” Stephens said. “I was pulling back, tried to swipe it, and that’s when I hurt it.”
Stephens said he plans to have the procedure done through Fox Valley Orthopedics on Jan. 22. The expected recovery time of about six months would put Stephens in position to jump into preseason workouts leading up to his freshman season at Purdue.
East coach Pat Woods said Saturday that he still considers Stephens out “indefinitely, because until he has the actual surgery, who knows what’s going to happen the next couple weeks.”
But assuming there is no change of plans, Stephens – who was averaging about 18 points a game for the Saints this season – has played his last game for East, dealing a major blow to a program that is in the midst of one of its most promising seasons in years.
Despite the setback, Stephens said he stands by his decision to try and fight through the initial injury for his senior year.
“No regrets,” Stephens said. “I think I had a great time playing for this first half of the season. It was great. Now I’ve got to go into manager mode, assistant coach mode. It is what it is, but I’m happy it played out the way it did.”
Woods said he was unsure where Stephens’ career points total landed with the Saints. A four year-varsity player, Stephens played his first two years under former Saints coach Brian Clodi.
“It’s been great,” Stephens said. “I’m glad I went to this high school. I met a lot of great people, a lot of great coaches with Coach Clodi and Coach Woods. I’m happy with where my career has been been at high school and I’m happy with where I’m about to head.”
David getting up to speed
Kaneland junior Drew David hit a go-ahead 3-pointer for Kaneland in the final minute of his first game back from a broken wrist, but the three-year varsity point guard hasn’t been immune to the need to shake off some rust.
“Getting back in practice before we played, that kind of helped me a little bit, but until you really get into the games ... it probably took a couple games,” David said. “And then, everything’s kind of the same. You’re just kind of playing.”
David missed the season’s first six games before returning to lead the Knights to a comeback win Dec. 14 at DeKalb.
The Knights went 2-4 without David and are 6-2 since he returned.
“I feel like without Drew, we were missing a big part of our team, someone who can bring the ball up, and he’s been doing that since he was a freshman,” Kaneland forward John Pruett said. “I feel like now that we’ve got him back, we’re pretty good now.”
– Jay Schwab, email@example.com
COACH SLY SAYS
Cole Gentry torching Evanston like he did Saturday night was a little bittersweet.
OK, it was mostly sweet to see the Saints’ little point guard give one of the best performances you’ll see anywhere in the Land of Lincoln this hoops season. The kid’s got a bright, bright future.
But it was also bitter in the sense that it showed just how dangerous this East team could have been come March with a healthy Kendall Stephens. With Stephens, Washington, Adduci and Gentry, you have four kids playing at a very high level, and if the Saints get one of their bigs on a roll, they had a chance to be an extremely difficult out.
Teams like that don’t often come around these parts. As it stands, it might take more heroics along the lines of what Gentry provided Saturday for East to reach its big goals this season.
N THE GROOVE
Cole Gentry, St. Charles East, So., G
What he did: Gentry put on an absolute show in Saturday night's 60-57 win against Evanston, going 9 for 10 from the floor – including 6 of 6 from 3-point land – in a 30-point outburst, punctuated byPrep boys basketball insider: Stephens eyes surgery with 'no regrets' a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for the victory.
What the Knights did: Kaneland clamped down on Yorkville and Burlington Central for consecutive home victories Friday and Saturday. The Knights allowed only 30 points to each opponent.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LAST WEEK
Wheaton Academy knows how to sight-see in style.
The Warriors' winter break trip to North Carolina included a trip to watch a Duke game at Cameron Indoor Stadium as well as practice sessions at the University of North Carolina and Davidson College.
Wheaton Academy coach Paul Ferguson knows one of the Tar Heels' assistant coaches, while the Duke tickets materialized because Warriors sophomore Evan Williams' dad, Weldon, was one of Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski's first recruits.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
Just how much progress Batavia has made in recent weeks.
The Bulldogs (7-8) have won five of six games since going through a six-game losing streak, and have a chance to show how far they've come Friday in a home game against rival Geneva, which defeated Batavia, 49-38, in the teams' first meeting in Geneva.