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  • Conversaton with Stephen Zimmerman, 2015 recruiting target


    Because he’s played with talented teammates and had college coaches watching him for several years, 7-foot center Stephen Zimmerman of Las Vegas was not the least bit overwhelmed when coaches John Calipari of Kentucky and Roy Williams of North Carolina watched him play last weekend.

    The game in the Cancer Research Classic at Wheeling (W.Va.) Jesuit University againsts Villa Angela-St. Joseph (Ohio) was even on ESPNU, but Zimmerman had 21 points and eight rebounds to lead his team to a 73-60 win and was named the game’s most valuable player.

    “I have had problems with playing consistently this year, so that is a big thing I have been working on. The way I played in that game needs to be the way I play every game,” said Zimmerman, one of the top players in the 2015 recruiting class. “I am always learning from little things I do wrong and stuff.”

    Zimmerman said having Calipari and Williams, who have seen him play before, at the game did not impact him.

    “I am playing basketball that I love to do and I don’t even think about other stuff,” he said. “I am playing with my friends and enjoying it. We have lost a couple of big games that we should have won, so I was just worried about making sure we won. I don’t pay attention to the coaches. I know they are there and stuff, but I try just to focus on the game, not the coaches watching.”

    Zimmerman has been hampered by ankle woes this season. He rolled his ankle and was on crutches at the end of summer play and then rolled his other ankle in a game in Arizona this season.

    “I am getting a lot better now, though,” he said.

    He went against elite sophomore Carlton Bragg, who had nine points and 14 rebounds, in the win. Bragg will play twice in the Mustang Madness at McCracken County this weekend.

    “It was fun playing against him because we are friends off the court,” Zimmerman said. “He likes playing on the perimeter more, but he really finishes well in transition. He will work hard. He tries to get a lot of dunks and stuff. He is a crowd-pleaser type of player. We didn’t focus on him, but our length and stuff did bother him. It’s really hard for him or any player to show out against us.

    “We have played a national schedule and have seen what it is like to play a bunch of amazing teams. That shows me what it will be like to go against great players and teams every game in college, and that should really help me out. I just have to be more consistent. I need to be more aggressive at times, and I tried to show that in the ESPNU game. I really concentrated on that.”

    He’s been concentrating on a little bit of everything when he works out.

    “I have to work on my ballhandling and I know that, but why not work on my jump shot and other stuff at the same time?” he said.

    Zimmerman is glad Bishop Gorman now will have “local games” to play, something it has done had since early December. “It will be nice to play some games at home finally,” he said.

    He says recruiting has “settled down” with scholarship offers — partly because he had so many early offers.

    “I am just halfway through my junior year, so I won’t be getting any new offers soon I don’t think,” he said. “I am really pleased with the offers I do have.”

    Most of the top schools, including Kentucky, have already offered and he says he’ll probably cut his list to 10 or 12 schools by the end of the season.

    “Right now I am focusing on winning another state championship, not recruiting,” he said.

    That’s why he doesn’t really talk recruiting with teammate Chase Jeter, who has an offer from Louisville among his college offers.

    “We don’t talk a lot about recruiting unless we have to,” Zimmerman laughed and said.

    But fans know Zimmerman could be a future collegiate star. He said there was an “amazing crowd” in West Virginia last weekend.

    “After the game a bunch of kids were asking for autographs and pictures. We’ve had a lot of that before, but never like it was there. I bet I took 30 or 40 pictures after both games we played. It was pretty amazing,” he said.
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