The Sixers have a bevy of picks in the upcoming NBA draft. There are many needs and there are also roles for the players who will be selected. One of the players to keep an eye on for the Sixers is Philly native, Lamar Stevens.
A senior this past season for the Penn State Nittany Lions, Stevens saw exponential growth in his senior season.
He was one of the best players in the Big 10, a great locker-room guy, and loves his community. I sat down with Lamar to discuss his the book he authored, his career at PSU, and his journey through the NBA draft process:
An Interview With Philly Native Lamar Stevens
Zach: So Lamar, I want to make sure we talk about this. Before we get to all the good you did on the court, tell me about Lamar’s Climb, a book to familiarize children with Pennsylvania geography, yeah, but in addition to that, it was an opportunity to allow these artists who illustrated to showcase their talents. What inspired you to author something so special?
Lamar: Honestly, I felt like that was my way to connect with a community that was so great to me. At Penn State, we take pride in involving ourselves in our community and Coach Chambers does a great job of having us be hands-on with the people who support us and have our back. I developed relationships with great kids doing things like the buddy walk which is a walk for kids who have down-syndrome and participating in the Special Olympics.
I thought that was an opportunity for me to help them get into the spotlight. That was probably my top accomplishment, the thing that I’m most proud of. Just seeing the excitement on their face the day the book was released they got to come onto the court and everyone got to cheer for them and see the smiles on their face so I think that’s the biggest and the best takeaway that happened to me my time at Penn State.
Zach: That’s awesome. Is this something that you’d like to do again in the future?
Lamar: Oh 100% you know I’m definitely extremely invested in our youth. Just trying to leave any positive mark that I can on the world to make it a better place. So I definitely want to look for other opportunities to give back to communities and just allow everyone to know how incredible and special they are in their own special way
Zach: Is there anywhere, Penn State or otherwise, is there anywhere that sells the book?
Lamar: So I was actually in the process of getting that completed at school and then COVID hit. That was honestly the plan after the season. The way everything has transition I have not had a chance to meet with the people I wanted to meet with but it will soon be sold somewhere and it’ll probably be posted on my Instagram page and my Twitter page when I do get it settled but it will be coming out soon probably after the draft.
Zach: That’s awesome man. I’ll make sure we’re keeping up and looking out for it.
Well in addition to authoring, you played college ball at Penn State. You show up your freshman year and boom, you’re a starter averaging double-digit points. What was it like to be a featured player from the getgo for your university?
Lamar: You know, you look at it and you think, “it was great”. Honestly, it was a chance for me to come into a situation and play in the BIG 10 and come in and really grow from day one. And have to kind of navigate and figure some things out early on and it taught me a lot… just about team and about myself and just what it takes to win. So I think Coach Chambers giving me that opportunity to come in and play right away and be a guy that started for all four years… I’m nothing but grateful. Each game, each year, each practice, I really felt like I was able to learn and continue to grow and become the player that I am today.
Zach: You really did grow in your four years at Penn State, the stats definitely show that. Last season, per 100 possessions, here’s a list of all the areas you saw career numbers: points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, defensive rating. You also had a career year in terms of PER and defensive plus-minus. What did you do this past season for that kind of improvement, and was there a specific emphasis you placed on defense this year?
Lamar: Honestly I think that I just grew up over my time at Penn State and I realized and began to really take pride into the player that I wanted to become and I knew for us to be special, I knew that we could score but I wanted to be you know, a guy that could be an anchor on defense. I wanted to really use my length and quickness to become an anchor on defense and as the leader, I wanted to show my teammates, “this is what I take pride in and this is what will win us games.”.
I was lucky to have a group of guys that really believed in me and allowed me to be that leader and step up in those areas… Just really focused in and going through the draft process my junior year really just woke me up into the payer I wanted to become when it was my time to try and go for the NBA.
Zach: You looked like you made a conscious effort to take more threes per game and to get to the line more often, was that in preparation for the jump to the NBA, and is it still a focus of yours leading up to the NBA draft?
Lamar: I think my biggest focus coming into the draft is becoming a better and more consistent shooter from three. Mainly the thing that I wanted to show, to prepare me for the next level is really just my versatility. I think that’s something that I wanted to put on the forefront and show how I can take advantage of mismatches and get past bigger guys and take smaller guys down low. I thought that was gonna be the biggest thing for me to get where I wanted to go.
Zach: Lamar, describe your game. How do you feel you make an impact?
Lamar: I would first just say versatile I think that I’m a guy that can play multiple positions, guard multiple positions. I think I’m really effective in the midrange and close to the basket, just a versatile defender who guards multiple positions and has a really tough physical type of game.
Zach: Back to the draft, what has the process been like for you so far? I know COVID kinda changed the process so it’s obviously new to you. Does it feel real yet? And what’s that process been like?
Lamar: It doesn’t really feel real for me yet cause everything is virtual and I haven’t been able to go through the process like I did after my junior season.
So it’s definitely been a little different for me but I’ve been honestly just taking advantage of all this time that we’ve had and just try to work on myself. The process has been great I feel like my game has grown a lot over this time and I’ve been really able to focus and hone in one what I wanted since the season ended.
I think I’ve learned a lot during this process and my game has grown.
Continued on the next page below.