With the Minnesota Golden Gopher men’s basketball season kicking off on November 9th, we will be previewing all members of the roster. Stephens, a Florida native, comes to the Gophers via Lafayette.
Height: 6’ 3”
Weight: 175 lbs
The Florida native, who also goes by EJ, played four years at Lafayette College out of the Patriot League. He started 32 games across 103 played during his four year career, while averaging 26.4 minutes per game. His senior year included averages of 16.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game on 44.4% shooting from the floor. He shot an impressive 90.4% from the free throw line on nearly five attempts per game.
Stephens has somewhat similar profile to his senior-transfer-from-an-eastern-small-conference counterpart Luke Loewe. With a wealth of experience playing college basketball, Stephens appears to be an able rebounder from the guard position and there may be some untapped shooting potential as indicated by his career 82.5% from the free throw line. An increase in ball handling responsibilities his senior year led to a jump in turnovers. But, as we know from the poor shooting performances of last year’s team, it never hurts to have someone on the roster who shows signs of being able to hit outside shots.
As alluded to earlier, Eylijah figures to be a part of the guard rotation. Without having too much intel on practices and possible starting lineups, a safe assumption would be that Stephens will have as much opportunities as the next person on the roster to earn minutes at two. The abundance of options at the one and two spots might suggest that the Gophers will try to play the hot hand or increase their in-game tempo but at this point in time, it’s hard to accurately assess exactly how much of the Lafayette transfer we will see. It wouldn’t surprise me to find him a part of the rotation, more due to the fact that most of those projected for the rotation are unlikely to stand out from the rest.