NBA straight out of high school.
Or at least he was
until last year, when the
Jazz used their
first-round pick on
California high schooler
DeShawn Stevenson, who
is scheduled to be
arraigned later this week
in Fresno, Calif., on a
felony count of statutory
"You could say, 'He's
20 years old, blah, blah,
blah.' That argues the
premise I've always
made: We shouldn't be
drafting these 18-, 19-, 20-year-old kids," Miller said. "They can
develop their technical skills, but can they develop their social and
emotional skills to meet the rigors and demands of the NBA? That's a
big question, and I think we've got to start dealing with that."
NBA commissioner David Stern favors a ban on high schoolers in
his league, but the NBA Players Association is opposed, meaning it's
not likely to happen any time soon. Six prep players declared for last
Wednesday's NBA draft, and four were among the first eight
Miller, meanwhile, sides with Stern -- especially now.
"I'd love to find some limitation on the age that we can draft
players," he said. "(Last week's) draft scares the heck out of me, when
I look at the number of high school kids and (college) underclassmen.
"I think it sends a loud warning to us, if we're listening at all as
NBA management and owners, that, 'What are we doing to our farm
system?' I mean, you can call it what you want, but that's what
college has been to us." ill DeShawn Stevenson ever play another game for the Jazz?
The question looms, and it's a tough one -- even for Jazz owner
Larry H. Miller -- to answer.
Stevenson, 20, was trumpeted as a
star for the future when Utah selected
him in the first round of last year's
NBA Draft. The rookie's recent arrest in
his hometown of Fresno., Calif., on a
felony charge of unlawful intercourse
with a minor -- i.e., statutory rape --
threatens to dim that star.
How much, remains to be seen.
Asked if Stevenson, who is
scheduled to be arraigned Friday in
Fresno Superior Court, can ever play
for Utah again, Miller hedged.
"I think so," Miller said, "but not
under any circumstances.
"There's so many variables; we're
trying not to guess too much at them,"
he added. "So the first thing we have to
do is have a determination in the legal
system, whether it's a trial in front of
a jury, just a trial before a judge
without a jury or a negotiated settlement -- you know, plea bargain or
a reduction of the charges.
"If DeShawn's convicted in a worst-case (scenario) -- let's say it's
as bad as it can get, and it's as bad as it sounds -- it's a real problem
for us, because we have always said that we want this team to stand
for certain things, you want the team to represent certain things in
the community, we want the players to be role models."
Miller is obviously disappointed Stevenson is in this predicament.
"We don't expect them to be angels, but there's certain things
we've always stood for," he said. "Now, having said that, I think
DeShawn is a good guy. If it's what it's charged to be right now, he
made a very serious and, in my opinion, a very stupid mistake."
Stevenson surrendered to authorities in Fresno on June 19, then
was released on $5,000 bail.
According to a Fresno Police Department report, the Jazz guard
admitted in a tape-recorded telephone call with the victim's mother
that he had consensual sex with a 14-year-old girl.
Stevenson is charged along with his best friend, 19-year-old
former high school teammate and ex-Salt Lake Community College
player DeShawn Anderson, who is accused of having sex with a
15-year-old female friend of the 14-year-old.
The report alleges that on June 6 those four and a third male who
"only watched" partied at a Fresno-area Howard Johnson Motel, where
they drank brandy and Coke before the couples engaged in consensual
Neither Stevenson nor his representatives have publicly
commented on the matter since the arrest.
If convicted, Stevenson -- who allegedly has known the
14-year-old for four years -- faces up to three years in prison.
Miller seems to hope it doesn't come to that and that Stevenson
will be able to resume his career with the Jazz.
"My first choice, by
far, would be to have, as
the truth comes out, to
find out that it's really
not as bad as it sounds,"
he said, "(and) that there
circumstances where we
can justifiably -- now, I'm
not saying just 'put the
right spin on it' -- where
we can justifiably face
the media and the fans in
this market together, the
team and DeShawn, and
say, 'OK, the decision's
been made; here's what
the outcome was, and
now we're here to
announce that we're going
"That's what we want to do," added Miller, who has spoken with
Stevenson. "Now, whether or not we can be handed the ingredients by
the system, and by DeShawn, we won't know until the outcome of the
Asked if he was at all satisfied with Stevenson's explanation for
the incident, Miller said this: "I felt good about it to this extent, or
'satisfied' is a better word: That he 'fessed up to it. There were some
'Yeah, buts' -- that he didn't know the age, and so forth. I don't know.
I've heard so many different things, on so many different fronts. He
truly is repentant. But this is a pretty serious situation, and if it's
closing the barn door after the horse is out . . .
"At this point, I'm satisfied that he's sincere in wanting to get it
handled, to face up to it and to move on . . . and to deal with the truth,"
Miller added. "Now, I hope I'm not being naive in that. So, it still boils
down to 'the system has to take its course;' in the wake of that, we
have to make our decision."
Miller said he does not know how long it will take to adjudicate
the case, and added that if it doesn't happen right away, Stevenson
likely will be permitted to play later this month in the Rocky Mountain
Revue summer league.
"If it's not," he said, "we're going to take the approach that he's
innocent until proven guilty . . . If we don't have him here, then I think,
in our own way, that we've tried him before the court system's tried
Whatever happens, Miller seems confident Stevenson will be able
to at least salvage his pro career.
"Whether he plays here or someplace else, clearly he's going to
play in the NBA someplace," Miller said. "He's too good not to."