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Perry Stevenson -- a Wildcat on the rise

Who is making the difference lately in Kentucky's play?  I think most would argue it was the hard play of Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford, or the improved offensive game of Ramon Harris.  Or some might argue that it is Patrick Patterson's continuing excellence.  And every one of them would be right.

Myself, I'd like to make a case for Perry Stevenson.

Why him and not the others, you ask?  Well, for one thing, Stevenson is leading the team in points per shot at 1.26.  He also leads the team in effective FG% at a stunning 60.3%, and in true shooting percentage at 63.7%.  But the biggest reason I think Stevenson has has helped so much is that he is making Patrick Patterson better.  Because of Stevenson, inside  help can't generally come from a big guy, because Stevenson can hit the jumper, and if he gets within four feet of the basket, it is a dunk.  Stevenson's ability to hit the 15 footer forces his man to follow him out away from the basket, unlike Coury.  And also unlike Coury, when Stevenson gets the ball down low, you can't just give ground knowing he is likely to miss a challenged layup.  Let Stevenson get within four feet and he'll be bouncing the ball off your head. 

Perry's biggest problem right now is that he is too reluctant a shooter.  Perry is still very light for his height, but he has learned to use his quickness and long arms better, and be stronger with the ball.  He is averaging only for rebounds per game, and that is a spot where he needs to improve.  But since the Florida game, Perry is averaging almost 35 minutes per game, and his confidence continues to rise.  What I would like to see more out of him is to shoot that free-throw line jumper every time he gets an open look there -- it is one of the easiest non-layups in basketball, and Perry can make that shot.

So here's to Perry Stevenson.  I doubted him early in the season, and gratefully, that doubt was misplaced.  He has become a nice complimentary player that really helps Patterson in the middle, and picks up a lot of fouls that would otherwise wind up on Pat.  Stevenson is making his presence felt this year, and that bodes very, very well for the future.