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St. Charles East's Kendall Stephens drives to the hoop during a game last season. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media
Before this season even started, Kendall Stephens, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from St. Charles East, suffered a shoulder injury that could have kept him out for his most memorable year — his senior season.
Considered one of the best shooters in the country, Stephens is playing through the injury. Without missing a game yet, he has led the Saints to a 5-2 start, averaging 22.1 points through seven games.
Like most stars, he wants to lead his team Downstate, and knows this is his last chance to do so. There is a sense of urgency for him, but he needs to be cautious with his recent injury.
“Right now I’m taking it day-to-day,” Stephens said of his injury. “It feels good. I’ve been treating it and I haven’t had any problems come of it.”
Stephens received scholarship offers from colleges all over the country but decided that Purdue was the best fit for him. He now follows in his father Everette Stephens’ footsteps. The elder Stephens led the Boilermakers to a Big Ten title in 1988.
As good as Stephens is, he knows how important it is for him to continue to improve his game in order to be successful at the next level.
“Getting stronger is the biggest aspect that I put on myself,” Stephens said. “I’m also learning to score in different ways.”
A four-year varsity starter, Stephens has made huge improvements each season and is being relied on heavily for the success of the Saints.
“Each year it’s more pressure being added to me, but it comes down to what am I going to do with it?” Stephens said. “I’ve made a conscious effort to working on my game each year and adding something to it that I didn’t have before.”
Stephens credits his success on the court to his father, who has helped him pay close attention to detail by studying films on himself, and college and NBA players.
“I’ll take aspects from different players’ games who have good qualities, and use them towards my game,” Stephens said.
With his diligent work ethic and love for the game, the sky is the limit for Stephens. Purdue should be counting down the days till he steps foot on campus.
Go to SeasonPass.suntimes.com to see all of Rompza’s interview with St. Charles East star Kendall Stephens.