By Christy Cabrera Chirinos
7:47 PM EDT, May 26, 2013
Not long ago, Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson was facing off against former American Heritage standout Kenny Boynton on the AAU circuit and in some prestigious high school basketball tournaments.
The two highly-touted players remained friendly and while Stephenson opted to join the NBA after a season at Cincinnati, Boynton went on to have a successful four-year career at Florida.
Now as Boynton trains for the NBA Draft, his former rival that's already got NBA experience thinks Boynton could be an asset to a number of NBA teams.
“I still talk to [Boynton] a lot, although we haven’t talked lately because I’m focusing on what I’m doing now,” said Stephenson at shootaround on Friday before the Pacers’ 97-93 win over the Heat in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. “But he’s my guy. He’s a big, smart guard. He can hit the three-ball, he’s got a good mid-range and can attack the rim and play great defense. I think he can bring a lot to the league.”
While draft projections are mixed for Boynton, a 6-foot-2 guard who averaged 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game this season, Stephenson thinks as long as Boynton is willing to put in the work and learn from older players around him, he can be successful beyond college.
“He just has to watch the people in front of him and learn. It takes a while to learn the game. For some people, it comes quick. For some people, it takes a year or two, but however long it takes, I think he’s going to succeed in the NBA. It’s taken me two years. I figured it out this year and I’m just learning every day.”
Stephenson, who has moved into a starting role with the Pacers this season, had 10 points in the Pacers win Friday night. He has been averaging 9.6 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists for Indiana through the postseason.
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