Hayfield’s Stephens follows his hero
Published 8:36 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2011
When Hayfield senior guard Bobbie Stephens was growing up, he wanted to be just like David Johnson.
Johnson, who graduated from Hayfield in 2005, led the state of Minnesota in scoring his junior (28 points per game) and senior (29 ppg) seasons. He finished with 2,468 career points, by far the most in Hayfield school history, and he went on to play for two national Division II championship teams at Winona State.
Now Johnson is back in Hayfield as a freshman boys basketball coach and Stephens will likely break his school three-point record this season.
Email newsletter signup
Johnson has no problem seeing Stephens, who has 241 career threes and is 24 from breaking the record, take the top spot in three-pointers made.
“He’s going to beat it, I know that,” Johnson said. “He’s a heck of a shooter and I know he’s put in lots of time over the summer working on his shot. That makes me respect him a lot more, knowing he’s worked his butt off to get where he’s at. I think he’s a better shooter than me and he could give me advice on how to shoot. Every time he shoots, it seems like it’s going in.”
Stephens is a four-year starter who has played in 86 straight games and is a 39 percent career shooter from behind the arc. He said he wanted work even harder to get better when Johnson came back to Hayfield this season.
“I remember always idolizing him,” Stephens said. “He was always good at shooting and he has the school record in pretty much everything. He’s the best overall player I’ve ever watched. For him to say (I’m a better shooter) means a lot. I have all the respect in the world for him.”
Hayfield head coach Chris Pack coached Johnson as well as Stephens and he said they both have similarities in things besides their jump shots.
“David, like Bobbie, had a knack for where the ball was going to go off a missed shot,” Pack said. “Also like Bobbie, David was so humble and really just wanted to win. Neither one is cocky and arrogant and both are great people off the court as well. It was a pleasure to coach David and then follow his fantastic college career.”
Stephens has a chance to finish in second place in school history for career points as he has 930 and is range of moving up right behind Johnson. He already holds the Hayfield records for threes in a game (nine) and threes in a season (104).
But no matter how many stats he compiles, Stephens is only concerned with winning. He’s shot more two-point jump shots this season than in year’s past and he thinks the Vikings (4-2 overall) have a good shot at making a run this year.
“The (three-point) record isn’t really that big of a deal, I’m more worried about getting to the section championship and getting to state,” Stephens said. “We (No. 3 ranked) St. Peter and I felt like we could play with them and even possibly beat them. We missed a few bunnies and some free throws (in a 65-52 loss).”
Johnson is still remembered by most of the varsity players, but a lot of the players on his freshman team don’t remember him as well. He said he’s glad to be on board as a coach in his old school.
“I enjoy teaching the younger guys and the varsity is real fun, I enjoy that quite a bit,” Johnson said. “They’ve got quite a bit of talent.”
Pack said that Johnson has brought in some new ideas and drills form Winona State and he earned the players’ respect the first day he walked in the gym.
“The players automatically look at him as a role model and go to him for advice,” Pack said. “A lot of our guys watched him play college ball and have always looked up to him.”
While Stephens has lifted the Vikings with his shooting touch, Pack was quick to point out that Stephens is as effective at setting screens to open shots for other guys as he as hitting his own shots.
“Bobbie is our hardest worker and best defensive player on the perimeter,” Pack said. “He shot hundreds of threes a day up at his father’s resort in Canada the past few summers. It’s great to see kids like him succeed because he truly deserves it.”
While Stephens would love to play college basketball, and he has heard from some Division III schools, he may have a dilemma on his hands. Stephens also happens to be one of the top bowlers in Minnesota as he averages 220 per game and he has already had a few scholarship offers.
“I’d rather play basketball, because I can bowl my whole life,” Stephens said.
Stephens picked up bowling by competing with his dad and now he’s at the point where can beat his dad.
“I always want to be perfect at anything, so I kept working and working until him and I were pretty much equal,” he said. “Bowling is nice because you can go out there and have fun with a bunch of friends. You just worry about yourself and you don’t worry about letting teammates down.”
Hayfield (2-0 HVL Gold) will host Winona Cotter (4-2 overall) Thursday at 7:30 p.m.