A number of different analysts have called Kobe Bryant the best clutch NBA player since Michael Jordan, not least of all MJ himself. Now a rising eighth-grader presents the intriguing possibility that someday, one of the game's brightest stars can represent both players, based solely on his name.
Kobi' Jordan Stephens-Sims (that's no misprint; he spells it with an 'I') may only be in eighth grade, but he already has the explosiveness and athleticism more often associated with major college prospects. He certainly proved that by pulling off the audacious dunk you see in the clip above, when he tossed the ball off the backboard to himself and finished a vicious slam on a fast break.
Keep in mind, this is a teen who has never played a game of high school basketball.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound point guard is only 14, but he's already become the featured star for the AAU Under Armour Southern Kings program in Atlanta, one of the top AAU squads in the South. Stephens-Sims was also flagged down as one of the top performers at the prestigious John Lucas International Middle School Combine, where some anointed him as the event's top point guard.
Stephens-Sims' emergence on the AAU circuit was presaged by his dominance of the Atlanta-area middle school hoops scene. As an eighth-grader, the Georgia resident averaged 36 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for Atlanta (Ga.) St. Francis Middle School, and he pulled down all those boards in his true position as a point guard.
In fact, Stephens-Sims' smooth ball handling will only make him more of a handful as he grows to his expected eventual height of 6-foot-6 or 6-foot-7 … or more.
For now, the Georgia teen has his eyes firmly on a stirring prize in front of him. Trained by both his father and Mark Edwards, a legend in the Atlanta street ball scene, Stephens-Sims hopes to follow in the footsteps of Kentucky guard Ryan Harrow, a former Southern Kings player, star in the McDonald's All America Game and spend a year in college before heading to the NBA (yup, he's already planning on being a one-and-done).
Stephens-Sims may not be there yet, but he certainly has many of the skills he'll need to achieve both of those goals. And one thing is certain: He definitely has the right name to succeed in hoops.