Five-star center Stephen Zimmerman talks USA Basketball, finalists

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Class of 2015 center Stephen Zimmerman is one of 12 players who was selected last week for USA Basketball’s U18 team that will compete beginning tomorrow in Colorado Springs, Colorado in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship.

The 7-foot, 241 pound big man from Las Vegas, Nevada, who is rated as one of the top five players in the country, is viewing the experience as an opportunity to represent his country and grow his game.

“It’s a huge honor to be noticed for my play,” Zimmerman told Inside the Hall. “I’m very happy to be here with all of these great players and be able to push myself and compare myself to the other bigs that are here and the other players.”

The U18 team roster, which was finalized last week, includes a mix of incoming college freshman and rising high school seniors. The group is being coached by Florida’s Billy Donovan, Arizona’s Sean Miller and Ed Cooley of Providence.

“There are great coaches here as well,” Zimmerman said. “They help us out and coach us through this. I don’t think you’ll find any better competition than being here.”

Joining Zimmerman in the frontcourt on the U18 roster are his high school teammate at Bishop Gorman, Chase Jeter, as well as Texas signee Myles Turner.

Battling in workouts and scrimmages with Turner, one of the top players in the class of 2014, is a chance for Zimmerman to measure himself against a player who is expected to be one of the top freshmen in college basketball next season.

“I love playing against Myles Turner,” he said. “He’s such a great player, he’s so long and he works hard. I feel like I can push myself playing against him.”

One of the most skilled big men in the country regardless of class, Zimmerman averaged close to 15 points and 10 rebounds as a junior at Bishop Gorman, where he’s led the Gaels to three consecutive Nevada Division I state championships.

As he prepares for his senior season at Bishop Gorman and a lengthy career beyond that, Zimmerman says improving his ability to put the ball on the floor is a big focus.

“Ball handling is a big thing,” he said. “I’m the kind of big who, sometimes I’ll get a rebound and push it up myself, so being able to make the best out of those situations is big.”

In late April, Zimmerman cut his list of schools to eight: Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina, UCLA and UNLV. 

Each of his finalists have been to multiple Final Fours and have won a national championship.

“All of these schools have contacted me a lot and I feel the best and most comfortable with these schools,” Zimmerman said. “They’re all very successful and hopefully I’ll be able to cut it down a little bit more soon.”

  • N71

    Who wouldn’t want Zimmerman? According to 247 though the front runners are Arizona, UNLV, and UK a distant third. Not sure how reliable that is but we’re posting a 0% chance at his point. We also have zero scholarships available (is that right?) but history says we’ll loose 3 players perhaps to NBA flight, transfer, other. Therefore for the sake of argument, what’s our priority or reasonable list assuming Zimmerman is a pipe dream? Our change with assistant coaches has me a little confused. For example, Bryant Crawford was a heavy IU lean but Kenny may lure him to Louisville. Therefore, who does our new assistant have relationships with? Any insights out there for our 2015 class? My guess/wish would be Swanigan, Coleman, and perhaps Spalding.

  • inLinE6

    Spalding seemed to be much more realistic. Zimmerman is too far out to reach. He does not have to stay in a specific system to succeed. If I were his parent I’ll just let him stay close to home for a year then get ready for NBA. Arizona and UNLV both seemed very reasonable to me.

  • http://insidethehall.com Ben_M

    Miller has to like his chances here.

  • PocketHoosier

    I heard a rumor a while back (during non con season)that he was Arizona and UCLA’s to lose with UNLV as the “local option” if he decided he didn’t want to leave home, and after he visited Arizona they took a big jump to being the front runner.

    It would be phenomenal to see him dressed as a barber’s pole, but at this point that looks to be a long shot.

  • PocketHoosier

    He’s been the front runner since December.

  • Gregory Spera

    What a great recruiting edge fronting these US national all-star teams must be for coaches like Billy Donovan and Sean Miller. Getting such close contact and actually developing working relationships with these stud players everyone is after. How does a major program coach get in on something like that?

  • ForeverIU

    Of the 31 offers (yes, THIRTY-ONE, lol) we made for 2015 (according to 247), “experts” have only three potential recruits with any chance of coming to Indiana: Bryan Crawford, Austin Conway, and Shake Milton (the latter highest at 50%). On the other hand, in the “Interest” column, a bunch of offers are listed as “warm” for IU. I’ve decided not to look at “expert” predictions any more, lol, not on 247 anyway.

  • ForeverIU

    Exactly what I was thinking.

  • marcusgresham

    Good idea, and I’ll back up your assessment with fact. There’s a local kid here, Bronson Kessinger, who is probably going to a mid-major D-I school. I read an article about him in the local paper quoting him on several schools that have contacted him/he is interested in. I compared the list from his mouth to that on 247 and it really wasn’t close.

  • marcusgresham

    …or Calipari just happening to take the job of coach for the DR’s national coach when they had a 17 year-old Karl Towns he put on the team? Not too shocking that he’ll find his way to Lexington this fall.

  • FinEndNow

    We’re going after him and Diamond Stone right?

  • Snookafly

    Yeah, according to 24/7 Milton and Crawford are both now “cool” on us for whatever that’s worth. Crawford is apparently favoring Nova and Louisville– with Kenny being listed as his contact for both UL and IU. Of course there are others like Jalen Coleman who still have us near the top. It’s really all too soon to tell.

  • N71

    24/7 is the only site I know of that gives tangible data on where a kid may go but its accuracy is really bad (garbage in, garbage out?). Yet the site seems to be relatively high profile in the college basketball recruiting niche. The site’s value must be centered around the number of informed data points which as Snookafly points out, doesn’t come until later.

    Take away: we still have a shot at Zimmerman

  • Ole Man

    If he’s 6’9 or taller, can walk and chew gum at the same time, we’re going after him. LOL.

  • calbert40

    I like 247, but their accuracy isn’t their hallmark, no doubt! The majority of the experts there thought RJ was certainly going to UNC, and also thought we were getting Pinson. Good for information, but not great for predictions?

    That said, I wonder if Crean goes after these “hail mary” type recruits that we have a very slim chance of landing simply to keep our name on all these lists in relation to the Top 10 type recruits in each class. It is a good strategy, IMO. Even if AZ and UCLA are “house money” on Zimmerman, we offer him early and get our name listed next to them on every database…though we have little chance of seeing him play here. It keeps us in front of the best players.

  • PocketHoosier

    I heard from Alex that Diamond Stone isn’t in play for the Hoosiers.
    That shot went from slim to none really quickly.

    He and Malik Newman have become a “package deal” (reports that I have seen corroborate the information)

  • SCHoosier

    Have to at least get him on campus for a serious visit…..and quickly.

  • Btown88

    IU’s player development has been terrific the last 2 years. All the NBA draft predictions have Vonleh making a big jump up from his high school ranking. Zeller made a big jump and Olidipo made a huge jump. What other schools could beat those statistics? Other schools can show success positions, but not drastic jumps like this

  • calbert40

    I may be in a stark minority on this, but am I the only one who doesn’t love Stone? Don’t get me wrong, he is very talented, but I think he is overrated. There are quite a few guys I’d rather have than him.

  • HoosierGrampy

    Daniel Giddens and Doral Moore come to mind. Major D1 talents upon which a very competitive team could be built.

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