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Nigerian-born Center Emmanuel Stephen Discusses Basketball Journey and College Recruitment



Photo Credit: @dc7visuals // Instagram

Dream City Christian (Ariz.) center Emmanuel Stephen has been playing basketball for fewer years than most of his class of 2024 counterparts, but the Nigerian-born big man has already emerged as one of the top high-school rim protectors in the country after a breakout Nike EYBL season with Paul George Elite.

The 7-foot-tall Stephen and his lengthy wingspan totaled 2.8 blocks per game during the regular season, tied for second in the league. During Peach Jam, Stephen averaged a remarkable 3.8 blocks per game and was awarded the Defensive MVP award of the tournament. He also swatted away a reported EYBL single-game record of 12 shots against Nightrydas Elite during the Memphis session.

A former soccer player, Stephen told LifeWallet Sports that he started playing basketball in 2019 or 2020. He played at a couple of academies in Nigeria before moving to Ivory Coast and then the United States, where he’s lived for almost two years.

Since May 29, Stephen has picked up offers from Kansas, Seton Hall, Arizona State, UNLV, Miami, LSU and Sam Houston State. 

This offer from the Jayhawks was especially meaningful to Stephen, as he noted that Kansas is his “dream school.” He also raved about the exuberant crowd at Allen Fieldhouse. A school’s environment is important to Stephen, who said that he “plays with so much energy.”

All of this recent attention from college coaches hasn’t wavered Stephen’s steady mindset.

“I don’t like to get too high; I don’t get too low. I just keep it 100-100,” Stephen said. “I mean it’s great to get a call from one of these coaches, and the ones who offer, it’s a good feeling. I try to enjoy the moment … [but then it’s] back to work.”

Stephen added, “I mean it’s great, like one of the best feelings I’ve had in my life, like Kansas was my dream school … it makes me feel like I can do more for myself, like why would I settle for less when I can have more. That’s what I do.”

Stephen’s recruiting stock will likely continue to rise as he heads into his senior season with Dream City Christian.

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