Photo courtesy of Jason Bush.

Motivation powers Erik Stevenson past struggles

Walking into practice during the summer after his freshman year, Erik Stevenson was on the rise. Colleges were starting to look closer at him and his playing career was beginning to take off.

Then, his seemingly promising career came to a screeching halt after one full-court lay-up drill.

Stevenson tore his meniscus during the drill, changing everything.

“It took a big blow off of me. As a 15-year-old kid, you’re like, ‘I just wanna be out there playing,’” Stevenson said.

That didn’t phase the Lacey, Washington, native, as he worked hard to rehabilitate and get back on the court, thanks to his strength and conditioning coaches and his head coach.

Stevenson’s sheer motivation also helped him get come back stronger and more agile than ever.

“That actually allowed me to recover a whole month ahead of schedule,” Stevenson said.

The three-star shooting guard has developed into one of the best prospects in the state. Though only a junior, Stevenson has already received five offers: Old Dominion, Wichita State, Cal Poly, Washington State and Hawaii, all which have come in the past year.

He said Wichita State stands out to him the most, mainly because of the winning mentality created there over the past several years. That’s the kind of school Stevenson is looking for, one with a winning mentality.

As for a major, he hasn’t decided yet, and rightfully so, but he’s leaning towards something along the lines of coaching.

A big reason for this is due to the strong relationship that has developed between Stevenson and his high school basketball coach, Allen Thomas. The two have become very close over the last three years, even more so this year.

“Me and coach do everything together,” Stevenson said. “We go watch teams play. We go scout. We go over game plans and stuff like that. Him and I are really close.

This isn’t the first instance of a strong relationship between Thomas and one of his players. He did the same with 2014 graduate Donaven Dorsey, who currently plays for the University of Montana.

Thomas, when talking about both relationships, said that his and Stevenson’s is stronger.

“The reason why I’ve become closer to [Erik] is because of the young man that he’s becoming over time,” Thomas said. “His maturity level has grown to a point that not only am I respecting his game, his teammates are respecting his game, and his family and all that.

Thomas also mentioned how Stevenson has become “more cerebral” on the court, speaking to his overall development as a player.

“For a kid that, at that age, to be thinking outside of himself like that, it’s something that I really enjoy about him,” Thomas said.

While Stevenson has developed into a leader for his team, he has kept the same motivation and competitive fire throughout. Stevenson constantly pushes himself to be the best, whether that be in the weight room, during practice, or on his free time.

“Ever since it turned on in my mind that I wanted to go to the NBA, I’ve never stopped working. My mindset is on another level,” Stevenson said.

He still has another year to continue working, and in talking about the offseason going into next season, Stevenson has placed several big goals for himself.

“I hope to get 10-15, maybe even 20 offers over the summer,” Stevenson said.

Edited by Justin Meyer.