Meet the Newcomers: Blair Stephenson

    Stephenson was an NJCAA All-American last year at Lake Land, averaging 17 points and six assists per game.

    Stephenson was an NJCAA All-American last year at Lake Land, averaging 17 points and six assists per game.
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    June 16, 2014

    The SIU women's basketball program is welcoming in four newcomers to the 2014-15 squad, Kylie Giebelhausen, Micah Norris, Blair Stephenson and Celina VanHyfte. The foursome is in Carbondale for four weeks getting ready for the upcoming season and getting acclimated to Southern Illinois. We're going to profile one of the newcomers in each of the upcoming four weeks. Up first: Blair Stephenson, a transfer from Lake Land College.

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - After Cartaesha Macklin and Rishonda Napier missed the entire Missouri Valley Conference season last year, head coach Cindy Stein knew she needed an immediate-impact player at point guard. She landed junior college transfer Blair Stephenson, a St. Louis native who earned All-America recognition last year.

    "What I like best about Blair is her maturity and natural leadership," Stein said. "She wants to be great--not just good, great! She brings an air of eagerness filled with energy. You can't have enough of these types of people on your team. As far as her physical abilities, she is a good defender that can also score by the three or the slash to the basket. Blair has a court savvy to her that you just can't teach."

    Right away, she gives the Salukis an extra scorer--something that will be felt immediately on a team that ranked last in the Valley in scoring last year. Stephenson scored 17 points per game at Lake Land last year, but she also dished out 6.2 assists per game, which ranked 10th in the nation. Along with Napier and Macklin, Stephenson is in a trio that could dramatically increase backcourt scoring.



    Stephenson visited SIU in 2011 with her team at a camp. She like the campus, the area and the facilities; but she knew she needed to refine her game at the junior college level before she would have a chance to play at the Division I level.

    "When I came in 2011, I said, `I would love to go to a school like this.' The campus was beautiful," Stephenson said. "I knew a couple people who came here from my high school, and they all had nothing but positive things to say about it."

    After her freshman year at Lake Land, her coach told her that she would have to bear the brunt of the scoring and playmaking load in her sophomore campaign. Stephenson had already made an impression in her freshman campaign; she had caught the eye of then-ICC coach Cindy Stein, who sought to bring the point guard to Carbondale with her. Stephenson played her best season as a sophomore at Lake Land, averaging 17 points and six assists while shooting 46 percent from the 3-point line for the Lakers. The entire staff made a push to get Stephenson, and she committed immediately to the school she started admiring two years prior.

    "I wanted to go to a school that really wanted me and was into me," Stephenson said of her recruitment. "(SIU) came to games; they called a lot and talked to my coach at Lake Land. It was awesome to have coaches be so into you when they see you as someone who can help build their program."

    As the only junior in the four-woman recruiting class, Stephenson has been immediately thrust into a leadership role, one which she is perfectly suited for. The vocal 5-7 guard has always been in leadership positions throughout her career, and she has set immediate goals for herself (lead the team in assists and become a team leader) and the team (win games and play hard).

    She may have already started a winning trend; her team--which included two of the three other newcomers--won three of four games in the team's first open gym.

    "(The freshmen) are a great group of girls. They're really positive and really excited, and they have game on the court," Stephenson said. "We're going to make an impact."

    Stephenson at a glance
     Favorite Color Blue
     Favorite Basketball Memory Becoming an All-American
     Favorite Food Chicken
     Favorite Athlete Kobe Bryant
     Favorite Musical Artist Drake