Whelliston on Stephen

Kyle Whelliston was the first guy with a national platform who wrote about Stephen.

“This was no fresh-faced kid,” he wrote, on ESPN.com, way back on Dec. 20, 2006. “What we had here was a baby-faced assassin.”

Later, what seems like much later -- last summer, when Kyle and I talked for the book -- he said this: “Folks were heckling him, ‘You look like you’re 12,’ and he did look like he was 12. But he kept hitting shots. And the points were secondary. It was the poise. He was in control of that game. The timing of the shots. The degree of difficulty. He took that game and did what he wanted.”

Kyle is no stranger at all to Davidson basketball, and he travels like an absolute nut, which I respect, and he goes enough places and sees enough games and talks to enough people to earn the right to say what he says.

Also, most of the many things that have been written about Stephen over the last two years have said basically the same stuff -- I’ve read everything -- so any piece of original reporting or new insight tends to stick out.

So here’s what Kyle wrote this morning:

We the media (especially the ones who are just now getting on the bandwagon and need to write glowing copy to justify the trip expense) are in that uncomfortable intersection between starstruck awe, competition for remaining superlatives and the careful soft-shoe around actual criticism of the 20-25 minutes when he’s not clicking. The guy is carrying a backcourt and a team and a school and a conference on his slim shoulders, and the strain is showing. His eyes bulge during timeouts and he clutches his shorts a lot … that wasn’t happening nearly as much last year. Is he ready for the NBA? Who really knows. But if he gets through this season alive, he’s simply superhuman.

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