Stephens ready for his 10th season on the Spartan bench.
Michigan State Basketball Players react to seeing the newly remodeled Basketball offices on September 1, 2015
Stephens’ many responsibilities include player development, scouting and recruiting. He’s worked closely with four Spartans selected in the last four NBA Drafts, including three front court players (Draymond Green, Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson). Dawson finished his career as MSU’s all-time leader in blocked shots. Payne developed into a two-time All-Big Ten performer and a first round pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Under Stephens’ tutelage, Draymond Green was the 2012 NABC Division I Player of the Year, a Consensus First-Team All-American and won Big Ten Player of the Year honors. Green also finished his career as MSU’s all-time leading rebounder, leading the conference in rebounding as a senior at 10.6 rpg, after finishing third in the league as a sophomore and junior. Spartan center Paul Davis was a three-time All-Big Ten honoree, including earning first-team all-conference and Associated Press honorable mention All-America honors in 2003-04, while finishing among the top 10 scorers and rebounders in MSU history. In 2009, All-Big Ten performer Goran Suton led the Big Ten in rebounding, one season after ranking second in the conference. Davis and Suton were also selected in the NBA Draft. In total, 19 different Spartans have earned some form of All-Big Ten recognition during his time on staff, while MSU has posted a 306-121 record in 12 seasons.
The Spartans led the nation in rebounding in 2009 and 2010, and have paced the Big Ten in six of his 12 seasons.
Stephens has coached in 14 straight NCAA Tournaments, including the 2003 Final Four with Marquette and the 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2015 Final Fours with MSU. He has helped guide MSU to three Big Ten Championships and two Big Ten Tournament titles. Each of the top five seasons in MSU history for blocks have occurred since Stephens joined the coaching staff, including a school record 176 in 2015.
Stephens is recognized as one of the top recruiters in the nation, playing a major role in many highly ranked recruiting classes. A May 2014 article by Jeff Goodman and Jay Bilas at ESPN.com named Stephens as one of the Top 15 head coaching candidates among assistant coaches. In 2013, he was mentioned in an ESPN.com article as one of the Top 15 Recruiting Assistants according to a vote of his peers. In 2012, Bleacher Report listed him among the Top 10 Best Assistant Coaches and the Top 10 Recruiters. He was among the top five coaches on a list of the “Top 25 High-Major Assistants,” according to FoxSports.com in 2010. In 2008, he was listed among the top 20 High-Major Assistants in the nation by Goodman at FoxSports.com. He was named a Rivals.com Class of 2006 Top 25 Recruiters.
A Ferndale, Michigan, native, Stephens was a four-year letterwinner at MSU from 1989-93. In his four seasons, MSU posted an 84-38 overall record and made four postseason appearances, as Stephens never missed a game. As a freshman, Stephens was a third-team selection on Basketball Weekly’s Freshman All-America Team and scored the game-winning basket in a 72-70 victory over Purdue that clinched the Big Ten Championship. In 1990-91, he was the recipient of MSU’s Best Defensive Player Award on a squad that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Stephens earned MVP honors as a junior, averaging 11.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists. He was named honorable mention All-Big Ten and was the recipient of MSU’s Most Improved Player Award. In two NCAA Tournament games, Stephens averaged 16.0 points. As a senior co-captain in 1992-93, he averaged 9.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists. He was named MSU’s Best Defensive Player and earned a spot on the Basketball Weekly Honorable Mention All-Midwest Team. Following the conclusion of his collegiate career, Stephens played three professional seasons in Europe.
Prior to returning to his alma mater, Stephens spent four years (1999-2003) as an assistant at Marquette under former MSU assistant Tom Crean. In 2001, Brian Wardle became the school’s first-ever first-team All-Conference USA honoree. Marquette made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2002 and 2003, advancing to the Final Four in 2003. Dwyane Wade was a two-time all-league performer and earned First-Team All-America honors from The Associated Press in 2003. The Golden Eagles posted a 27-6 record in 2003, winning a Conference USA regular-season title.
Stephens spent the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons as an assistant coach at Oakland University, where the Golden Grizzlies compiled a 27-27 two-year record. The 1998-99 campaign marked Oakland’s first season as a Division I member.
Stephens earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from MSU in 1993. His family includes his wife Sarah, daughters, Taylor and Skylar, and son, Noah.