Alex Stepheson Transferring

Cites family illness, need to be closer to home.

“My family is dealing with some health challenges at this time and as a result I have made the decision to transfer to be closer to home,” says Stepheson. “The two years I have spent as a Tar Heel have been great. My teammates, Coach Williams and his staff and the whole Carolina family are the best. I wish to thank the UNC fans for all their support and encouragement. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to be a Tar Heel and I wish the program the best in the future.”

Well, I hate that, mainly because going to college and managing a basketball career is tough enough.  The additional burden of a family illness makes it even more difficult.  Best wishes for Alex and I hope with the year off from playing basketball that is mandated by a transfer he can spend time with his family.

On the UNC side, obviously it hurts the depth and I for one thought Stepheson was coming along nicely.  I firmly believed he was becoming the defensive presence around the rim the Heels needed to make the defense in general better.  With the arrival of Ed Davis and Tyler Zeller, the interior depth should be fine. However, when you count this transfer, Mike Copeland’s knee problems and the possible NBA departure of three other players, UNC stands to possibly lose five players off the roster from the underclassmen ranks.  In Stepheson’s case I think this is a blow to the team, albeit one I think the Heels can adequately compensate for in the long run.  And that is not to say he was expendable but with the personnel coming in probably easier to cover losing that the perimeter positions.

Also: Roy Williams statement:

I am extremely, extremely disappointed but I feel so great about Alex that I understand his decision to transfer. He is doing this because of health concerns and by being closer to home he will be able to provide the necessary support and help his family needs at this time. He is a wonderful kid. I thoroughly enjoyed coaching him and know that he would have contributed so much more in the next two years. Nevertheless, I have tremendous respect for Alex and know that he will always be part of our Carolina Basketball family. I’ll miss him, but he will always be important to me

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24 Responses to Alex Stepheson Transferring

  1. Johnny says:

    Hate to hear that for all of the reasons you mentioned THF. I think Alex has great potential and I hope he is able to realize that potential closer to home and family. His defensive presence and energy will definitley be hard to replace.

  2. wcb22 says:

    Hate to be cynical, but I am not buying this explanation. Have a feeling he was going to be the 5th big man on the team next year, and seeing very few minutes. I bet this occurred to him also.

  3. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Yes, but also remember that this had been rumored all the way back in January when he made the trip home away from the team to see his sick father. Andrew Jones of the Wilmington Star said he might be considering a transfer for family reasons. Jeff Goodman at FoxSports.com said he would do it for the reason you said.

    The reason I am not as inclined to believe that is he would have been one of the only true centers UNC had. Hansbrough plays there but he can also play four. Zeller is big enough to play there but he also has more of a face-up game. I thought Stepheson would see plenty of PT because he is a good defensive player.

  4. brooks says:

    I agree with wcb22 but you can’t blame him.

  5. Johnny says:

    Alex would’ve had a shot at winning the starting position battle against Deon this year (though to do that his offensive game would need to improve). But even if he didn’t he would be the clear #2 behind Tyler and Deon. The young guys are freshmen. Keep in mind that UNC has been blessed with some stud freshmen (Tyler and Marvin of late) but that usually freshmen fill in minutes for the veteran kids. Zeller has great potential, but he’s going to have to pack on weight and muscle to be really good in the ACC. That’ll take him until his soph year easy.

    I guess I feel I can take Alex at his word on this one. Riding the pine for a year after transferring is not easy for someone that’s been playing hoops their entire life. And he did take a leave of absence to be with his father.

    (NOTE: If he transfers somewhere other than California, I reserve the right to be bitter and angry. :))

  6. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Well you are also talking about deciding between being closer to a sick family member and playing for a team and not knowing what kind of PT you will get. Anyone want to comment on the irony of him ending up at Arizona given what he did to them last season in Tuscon?

  7. wcb22 says:

    THF: Please recall that the rotation this year basically had Alex as the 4th big man, even behind Danny. He seems like a great guy, but he just wasn’t developing very well. Frankly, I found him frustrating to watch because he didn’t seem to know what he was doing half the time (or more). I can’t blame him for wanting to go to a school where they need to play him. I would do the same thing.

  8. 52BigGameJames says:

    I have to agree wcb–wish him luck tho!

  9. Thank the Passer says:

    I wish nothing but the best for Alex. He seems like a good kid without much of an ego. If playing time was such a concern, why didn’t he transfer after his first year? He would have been the first big guy off the bench this year no question. His power and rebounding will be missed. Neither Zeller nor Davis look like they can post up against a stiff wind at this point, let alone ACC competition. Why anyone would transfer to Arizona is beyond me. Good luck, Alex.

  10. wcb22 says:

    Thank: You may recall that Roy didn’t decide between Alex and Deon until the very beginning of the season. So, Alex could potentially have landed himself a starting role THIS YEAR. After the way this year panned out and with the recruits coming in, Alex probably doesn’t want to take the chance of never getting to play. I think it was a good decision on his part.

  11. Asheville Heel says:

    I know it’s hard for us to believe but not everyone likes Chapel Hill. Alex is a California kid who missed home from day one. His father wanted him to stick it out at UNC. His mother was against his going so far away from home from the get go. His father’s illness sealed the deal. Moma said you need to come home and he is gone. It was somewhat of a surprise to the coaches that he came back after the holiday break. Don’t be too surprised if he shows-up at UCLA which was reportedly his Mother’s 1st choice to begin with. Good luck to Alex; he is a bright, sharp, young man.

  12. wcb22 says:

    Not everyone likes Chapel Hill, but EVERY basketball players likes playing for UNC. Contrariwise, EVERY basketball player dislikes sitting on the bench.

  13. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I wish he would be upfront with the real reason he is transferring and that is because Roy wore the Kansas sticker during the NCAA title game. 😉

  14. keithunc says:

    Alex we as heels wish you the best. I’ll say a prayer for you and your family

  15. I knew the sticker would come back to haunt us. Drat!

    Seriously, kudos to Alex for putting family first. This is exactly the kind of player that Roy recruits: one with his priorities in order.

  16. keithunc says:

    Speaking of Tarheel sadness….

    THF I would like on of those spiffy NC pictures instead of the Quilt picture. 😉

  17. Tar Heel Fan says:

    That is WordPress’ doing but fear not the move to the new blog is happening this weekend at which point you will get your own account for commenting and the ability to add your own avatar.

  18. Tar Heel alum and fan says:

    I say take him at his word, appreciate his contributions at UNC and wish him well in his next venture. I lost my mother when I was about his age and serious illness to a parent causes you to want to be around them to the exclusion of all else. I can sympathize.

    I do feel he will be missed. I thought his defensive intensity was coming along nicely toward the end of the season and that he was becoming more comfortable on the offensive end. At another program he can be one of the stars and I hope that happens for him!

  19. Johnny says:

    Tar Heel alum and fan,
    Totally agree with your post. For some reason when I read it Gonzaga popped into my mind as his end destination. Probably not at all likely, but I know you and I are both in the NW and thought it wold be a fun team to see him on. Have a good weekend all.

  20. Silent Sam says:

    Alex played 6.4 minutes per game as a freshman & 14.5 minutes per game as a sophomore. Realistically, with Psycho-T & Deon returning plus Ed Davis & Tyler Zeller coming in, Alex would have to improve significantly before November to maintain, much less, increase his playing time.

    My own avatar! I can’t wait!

  21. Chris says:

    Whatever the reason, it’s fine. Alex never became a competitive ACC player. He had difficulty catching the ball, and always was awkward on the floor. His best move is to leave, and he will eventually play in Europe. I’ll say it again. When you get to the final four, you need five players who can play the game in all aspects. We didn’t win this year because the Deon/Alex position was less than medicocre, and the Ginyard position had no offense. What we had this year will get you to the final 4/8, but beyond that you need 5 real players, and we didn’t have that. Alex was not going to make the situation any better next year.

  22. Tiffany says:

    I think Alex was coming along at the end of the season, and wish he was staying.
    But I understand the reasons for leaving, and wish him all the best and more.
    Even if it means I have to buy a new jersey now that my #32 is gone.

    As an UNC student I will say I will miss his Pirates of the Caribbean backpack as well.

  23. aerds84 says:

    I certainly agree with those saying Alex definitely improved from the start to the finish of the season. I also thought he made huge strides from freshman year to sophomore year. He really became a defensive presence as the season wore on. He even started to contribute on offense, especially the nasty follow-up jams. I’ll certainly miss watching him.

    I also agree with those saying, “take him at his word and wish him well”…he seems like a great kid and I think he would have seen quality minutes had he stayed, just based on his size, strength and shot-blocking ability.

    Best wishes to Alex and his family…

  24. VegasHeelFan07 says:

    Alex became one of my favorites to watch towards the end of the season…a lot of great talent and drive…definitely a great contributor to the Heels

    Will miss watching him next year and special prayers go out to his family

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