I wonder if Andrew Wiggins will be as good for KU as I hoped DeShawn Stevenson would be. That sentence should not make any sense to sane individuals, even sane individuals who followed Kansas basketball with ritualistic intensity in the late 90s, which, I guess, might actually make them insane, thus placing me squarely into that camp. Oh well.
But back in the late 90s, DeShawn Stevenson was the shit, which also makes little sense. Stevenson these days conjures up two distinct, incredibly awesome images.
*It’s worth noting that, if not for his Lincoln tattoo, he might actually be remembered better for his other really weird tattoo, which is a reverse logo of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ “P” on his face.
He used to be more than tattoos and keeper of an automated teller machine that charges a $4.75 convenience fee, though. Like Wiggins, he was a true phenom headed to Kansas. Roy Williams once said he was the most talented high school player he had ever recruited and this meant something considering Roy Williams had just recruited stars like Paul Pierce and Raef LaFrentz.
I wish I could present you with evidence of Stevenson’s past ability, but his senior year of high school came in 1999-2000, that awkward timeframe when Pets.com still existed yet a reliable place to embed and watch videos didn’t. So footage of the high school version of Stevenson is sparse. Just know that he was a consensus top-five recruit and averaged 24.3 points a game. In the McDonald’s All-American game, he had 25 points, and there is a little bit of video evidence of his athleticism in the dunk contest. Fast forward to the 58-second mark.
When he decided to eschew his NBA ambitions and attend Kansas, I remember my dad woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me. This was beautiful. It meant DeShawn Stevenson had finally passed the SAT, which had previously been impossible for him.
One article I just looked up in the KC Star archives from December of his senior year said he was getting ready to take the test for the THIRD time, having failed to previously get a qualifying score. On that test, he did not pass. But in April, the last resort month for kids trying to pass the SAT and get into college, he earned a qualifying score, an 1150 (athletes needed a minimum 820 on 1600 scale at that time). Such a score would have been glorious news if not for this extra piece of information: His score had increased by 700 points.
On his previous attempt, he had scored a 450. To add perspective, someone who answered one question in either the math or reading sections and left the rest blank would score a 400. When his score was recorded, it caught the attention of the Education Testing Service. Yes, DeShawn Stevenson was accused of cheating, mainly because he had cheated too good.*
*I bet 75 percent of the top basketball recruits have someone else take their SAT/ACT for them. Derrick Rose allegedly did. I just love envisioning some average high school kid wearing Vans and glasses while carrying a trapper-keeper walking up to a testing center, using a fake ID and saying “I’m Derrick Rose.”
Without a passing score, Stevenson skipped Kansas for the NBA, and it’s actually been a pretty good ride. Thirteen years, some dope tattoos, multiple arrests (but who’s keeping track?) and one ATM. I can’t get over how wonderfully frivolous it must be to have an ATM in your house. If Andrew Wiggins finds a way to install one of those in his dorm room at Jayhawker Towers, then he’ll have lived up to the hype in my book.