The Kid Is Gone
We always liked Kendall Stephens...I mean the idea of him anyway.
Kendall Stephens was a Purdue lean from the first time he appeared on recruiting boards during High School...his connections to Purdue were solid as his Dad would be seen in Mackey Arena from time to time, at alum events and just at games, even before the younger Stephens was recruited.
I was in middle school when the Three Amigos were on campus at Purdue...I went to Purdue basketball camp when those three were there...and I loved seeing a Purdue legacy come home without dram...it just made sense.
That said, the fit was never ideal...on either side. Painter doesn't love guys who think offense first, never has. A few players like that have come to God's Country, changed their game and attitude (i.e. Smooge, RayDay) and the marriage has been a success...this one was rocky; many like this have been.
We talked about the death of Kendall's HS teammate time and again during the early BT season...how it might affect his outlook on everything, and how things might play out. I can say my opinion now, and it's a guess -- the death of his friend had nothing to do with Stephens' outlook on Purdue, the basketball program or his former coach, Matt Painter...whether or not he realizes that, once again, I don't know.
This is lousy because it's another legacy that didn't finish his career at Purdue. I'm glad he came to Purdue. I'm not surprised that it ended this way based on conjecture, body language and public events. Stephens never bought in to Painter's philosophy, and Painter seemed to sour on Stephens attitude as time went on.
One thing that kills me is he had tons of tools at his disposal -- long arms, solid athleticism, great shooting ability, great height and a lean build. I hoped, no dreamed, that he was a fan of Reggie Miller, and would watch films of the Pacer great in order to find what his game should look like...but the energy away from he ball never game, at least during the last two and one-half seasons.
I hope he finds a good fit (both on and off the court) and lights the world on fire. I also hope that his last game in college is against Purdue in the NCAA tournament, and he loses...wherever he lands.
Good luck, Kendall.