Constantly Proving Himself, Erik Stevenson Turns into an Impact Player

Erik Stevenson
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As soon as Erik Stevenson achieved his life goal of reaching the NCAA Division I level, he started to work on the next mission of playing time.

Focusing his attention over the summer to work himself into the rotation, the 6-foot-3-inch freshman guard made an immediate impact.

He is currently Wichita State’s third-leading scorer, leading the team in scoring average at home with 16 points per game.

“He’s always trying to make that hero play, that home run play”

“In the summer, obviously it was a grind, getting as many shots up as possible, getting in shape, taking in as much information as I can from the coaching staff,” Stevenson said. “Some games I don’t show it, but usually I knock them down inside Koch (Arena) and that kind of just gave me confidence seeing that ball go through the net.”

Stevenson has been in this situation before. Heading into his freshman season at Timberline High School in Lacey, Washington, Stevenson was fueled by people who kept telling him he wouldn’t be able to play right away in high school because of juniors from the previous year. Knowing he had upperclassmen to beat out for playing time, Stevenson worked tirelessly to improve his game and get noticed by the varsity coaches.

Once he got the nod to start on the varsity team his freshman season, his tenacity pushed him to success. Stevenson finished his high school career as Timberline’s record-holder for points in a game (45 points), season (717) and career (1,861) while leading his team to their strongest finish in Washington’s Class 3A State Tournament since 1981 with a fourth-place finish.

“I had a lot of motivation going into high school,” Stevenson said. “I wanted to prove other people wrong and I wanted to start…It’s just a lot of reps, with the lights off or in-game, just a lot of reps to build my confidence and allowed me to take big shots and make shots in high school and build my reputation as a big-time player.”

When Stevenson first stepped into Charles Koch Arena for summer practice, he had the same mindset as he did four years earlier. His play impressed the coaching staff and there would even be situations drawn up specifically for him, allowing him to score off screens and receive open looks.

“He’s always trying to make that hero play, that home run play,” senior forward Markis McDuffie said. “That goes to show his will to win, his wanting to win. He does a lot of hustle plays. He can jump. He’s very athletic. There’s a lot of good things about him. He’s the guy that likes to turn the crowd up. Once you get a guy like that, that’s good.”

After posting 16 points in his first career college game, head coach Gregg Marshall made Stevenson a consistent rotation player. He played 21 or more minutes in all but one contest, posting a career-high 33 minutes on Saturday.

Stevenson is not afraid to take the clutch shot when his team needs a basket. Despite missing his first eight shot attempts against Southern Miss, Stevenson made a huge 3-pointer and two free throws to give the Shockers a three-point lead with under three minutes to go on Saturday.

“He doesn’t lack confidence. That was never an issue,” Marshall said. “He’s got to defend better and keep moving his feet. He can rebound, he can make baskets and he showed the ability to drive it a little bit…He’s a good player and he’s going to get better. He’s like a lot of these freshman. They are good players, but they are going to get better.”

While Stevenson is continually focused on improving, his priority is using his minutes to keep the Shockers winning.

“It’s a lot of pressure on us with it being a bunch of new guys and playing in front of (10,500) every night at home,” Stevenson said. “We’ve got to live up to the expectations of the previous seven teams that made it to the NCAA Tournament…I’m just trying to have fun with it, but take it serious at the same time.”

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