Lincoln’s budding talent

Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson, left, shoots in front of Memphis Grizzlies guard Jamaal Franklin in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Monday, Nov. 11, 2013.
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Over the years, Lincoln High School of Brooklyn produced three basketball players who put on National Basketball Association uniforms – Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair, and more recently Lance Stephenson. With them came title winning or contending teams in the Public Schools Athletic League.

And looking back further, there were other schools which did, likewise; one can’t count out Mark Jackson, playing at Bishop Loughlin High School, now coaching the Golden State Warriors.

Stephenson and his Indiana Pacers recently came to New York to battle the Brooklyn Nets and then the New York Knicks. Every time he comes East, he draws his family, friends, and former high school teammates and even ‘enemies,’ who played on opposing teams. The custom is that Stephenson is allotted a certain amount of free or complementary tickets.

Not always he can get them for his high school players now involved in the sport, for they must attend to their own practices and/or games and at times academics at his former school which comes first.

Yes, there is another member of the Lincoln family coming up in five more years. His name is Isaiah Whitehead.

Over the years, when time and schedule permits, Lance would try to give Whitehead little tips on his game. They include working hard, staying focused, being smart, and not letting little things bring you down. Lance would also tell Isaiah to stay positive and be a leader.

“Iaisah took over the team last year and will leave a mark when he leaves (graduates) Lincoln,” the four-year NBA guard said recently. “That’s what I did!”

Whitehead has the talent, size, and awareness, according to Stephenson. “He’s getting better in every game. I want him to follow my footsteps.”

Stephenson is trying to see his former team play but he is so busy.

Meanwhile, Stephenson has to concentrate on his own play and continue to produce.

The 6’5” Stephenson played on a team last year that finished runner-up to Miami in the Conference finals.

“I try to be very aggressive on the bench, and try to find people I am throwing at,” Stephenson said.

“I have to work on being consistent even if I am not scoring, being a great defender and rebounder, and finding stuff to keep me going. It’s all about being mature and staying and I learned from that and got better every year. (As a team) we’re getting better in every game as long as we stick together.”

“Last year Stephenson was one of the most improved players in the NBA, and came into the summer with great work ethic. He has taken a great leap,” said Indiana Head Coach Frank Vogel.

“Lance has been playing great on the offensive and defensive ends,” center Roy Hibbert said. “I’m happy that he is having a heck of a season. He’s been good. He’s aggressive.”

Abraham Lincoln Railsplitters Isaiah Whitehead #15 drives to the hoop against Wings Academy during a high school basketball game in the PSAL Boys AA Semi-finals at CCNY earlier this year in Manhattan.
AP Photo/Gregory Payan, file

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