AJ Stephens is one of the best players from the Houston, Texas area in the Class of 2023.
The 5-foot-6, 130-pound Stephens, who attends York Middle School and plays for the Texas Footwork Bengals, is a dynamic player that works as a shooting guard.
Stephens also plays football for the North Houston Panthers and baseball for JR RBI, earning plenty of recognition, such as Defensive Player of the Year (football) and and an All-Star selection (baseball).
Stephens is humbled by the accolades and wants to transition them to the basketball court as well.
“It means that hard work pays off and I made a contribution to the team’s success,” Stephens said. “I had a great experience because I had a chance to play with other great players. I used the experience as a measuring stick to see where I need to improve my game.”
No matter the opponent, every game Stephens is determined to give it his all.
Stephens is going all out.
The motor is always at full throttle whenever Stephens steps between the lines.
“My mindset is to hit the open shot, make my teammates better, and play great defense,” Stephens said. “I want the opponent to have to grind for everything they get while I’m out there.”
Stephens has great passion and energy whenever he’s on the hardwood. Stephens tells why he enjoys the game of basketball so much.
“I love the competition and building chemistry with my teammates,” Stephens said. “It feels great to be a part of a team that feels like my family and to celebrate winning with them.”
Stephens has learned many valuable lessons from playing basketball that he applies to his everyday life.
The main one is applying perspective to all situations.
“Basketball has taught me a lot about life,” Stephens said. “Playing has taught me to never give up, stay focused, and be confident at all times.”
Stephens recalls his favorite basketball memory.
“My favorite memory is making eight 3s in one game,” Stephens said. “This is my favorite memory because this gave me confidence that I can play on the perimeter at a high level.”
Anthony Stephens coaches his son for the Texas Footwork Bengals.
Mr. Stephens explains the best parts of his son’s game.
“I gave the players on our team a goal to make 33% Of their 3 point shots. AJ is making 36% of his shots,” Mr. Stephens said. “The techniques I like about his position is the following: 1. He knows how to read and come off picks. 2. He knows how to finish with his left and right hand. 3. He’s an unselfish player.”
Stephens takes his role as one of the leaders on the team very seriously. Stephens makes sure he’s a daily positive influence on his peers.
“I communicate with everyone on the floor and field to make sure they are in the right position. I don’t criticize anyone. I’m always uplifting them,” Stephens said. “My advice that I give my teammates is to keep their heads up after losses and mistakes.”
Mr. Stephens adds that his son is one of those consummate teammates that every squad needs to be successful.
“He demonstrates leadership by being vocal,” Mr. Stephens said. “Defensively, he makes sure everyone is in their right position to make plays.”
Stephens is appreciative of having amazing male role models that are supportive.
“What I learned from my coaches is the game is not all about stats. It’s about doing the little things that doesn’t show up in the stat sheet which translate to winning. Sports helps me to be discipline and shapes my character on and off the court,” Stephens said. “They tell me that hard work pays off.”
Stephens is an advocate of his son’s capabilities.
“One example of big plays or game he had for us is when he made eight three-point shots in one game,” Mr. Stephens said. “He has excellent range on his shot. We wouldn’t have the success we do without his efforts.”
In addition to making clutch plays, Stephens is developing a high level of basketball IQ as well.
Stephens is growing into excellent basketball awareness that puts him in position to thrive.
“He uses his IQ to make the right basketball play,” Mr. Stephens said. “As a shooting guard, he’s too unselfish. Because he makes the right basketball plays, I can’t complain.”
Stephens is on the grind to perfect and hone his craft in any way possible.
“He has a great work ethic. During the season, He works out two times a week,” Mr. Stephens said. “He can’t leave the gym until he makes 500 shots.”
Mr. Stephens explains why he compares his son to these players.
“The pro players I tell him to watch is Klay Thompson and J.J Reddick,” Mr. Stephens said. “I compare him to Klay because he’s not as athletic as his teammates but he is smart, he plays on both ends of the floor, and is the ultimate teammate.”
Stephens patterns his mentality after this projected lottery pick in the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft.
“I have been watching Cam Reddish since high school and I modeled my game like him before he went to Duke,” Fields said. “He is a player that commands the court and that’s how I want to play.”
Stephens is constantly striving for greatness in everything that he does.
“I want to be the best player and person that I can be on and off the court,” Stephens said. “I want to make my family proud of me in everything that I do.”
Stephens explains his collegiate aspirations.
“I want to go to LSU,” Stephens said. “It would be an honor to be a Tiger.”
Stephens lists math as his favorite subject in school.
“I will always need math in my life,” Stephens said. “Math is a subject that you need to understand in life.”
Mr. Stephens outlines the areas of improvement that will take his son to the next level.
“The areas of improvement that I’m working on him with is the following: 1. Ball-handling 2. Free-throw shooting 3. Anticipation skills,” Mr. Stephens said. “He can get better at these skills just by playing, limiting his time on video games, and working on his game daily.”
Stephens believes the sky is the limit as long as his son continues to stay hungry.
“In my opinion, his potential is totally up to him” Mr. Stephens said. “AJ’s light switch is not on yet but it’s flickering.”
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