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Posted On: 03/20/18 12:39 PM
Trotwood entered last season’s Final Four weekend as the hottest team in Ohio. There were even many in the “Trotwood is the best team in Ohio regardless of division” camp. But, the Rams only played 32 minutes that weekend after being shocked by St. Vincent-St. Mary in the semifinals.
That moment of disappointment is something that has stuck with Trotwood, explains 6’7” forward/center Justin Stephens (2019).
“It’s actually been our catalyst for this whole year. I remember [Myles] Belyeu always saying, ‘Remember last year! Remember last year!’ When we’re in a tough situation, especially when we played Columbus South earlier, he was just saying, ‘Remember last year,’” Stephens told us.
“It never really escaped me. I mean, we was that close really,” he continued.
As they approach Friday’s semifinal matchup with Meadowbrook, which could be followed by a rematch with STVM in the D-II State Championship, Stephens believes the key is staying together and executing Coach Rocky Rockhold’s gameplan.
For Stephens, his personal role has elevated considerably since last season.
“My role has changed a lot for me. It’s helped with my confidence a lot. I’m the team’s rebounder and shot-blocker. But I know that I have to be able to put points on the board,” Stephens said.
The long, lumbering forward also explained that he’s not the first or second option. He takes pride in making sure Myles Belyeu and Amari Davis get theirs.
But, that dynamic between the three of them goes both ways when Stephens is hot.
“I love playing with my family because they help me out a lot, especially Belyeu and Amari, they always encourage me and stuff like that. I had a couple games when I went off because they understand, okay Justin is hot let’s throw him the ball,” Stephens said.
Most of Stephens’s point are going to come on the block. The 56-percent-shooter can finish athletically over the top or nudge his way into position with pump fakes and power moves.
He was especially impressive in their game against McEachern (GA) at Flyin’ to the Hoop, scoring a season-high 17 points and grabbing 11 rebounds against one of the nation’s top teams.
Performances like that have also swung his recruitment since last January, when he told us, I haven’t heard anything from college coaches yet, but I’m working on it.”
Today, Stephens is in communication with Miami (OH) and, mainly, Ferris State.
“It’s not much but I’ve been getting mail from Miami,” Stpehens said. “I went up to Ferris State for a Junior Day one day; I’m still in contact with them. Then, Ashland, I’m not in contact with them any more though,” Stephens said.
Beyond that, Stephens holds football scholarships from Boston College, Bowling Green, Eastern Kentucky, and Eastern Michigan.
“I’m keeping things open right now. But it’s looking right now that it’s going to be football,” Stephens said.
He will pursue a career path in cyber security, a pivotal factor in his eventual college decision.
“I’m leaning towards more of the educational factor.” Stephens continued, “I’m really into IT and protecting the data of others.”
Stephens carries a 3.96 GPA and is awaiting his ACT score. He’s currently in a program that allows him to play sports at Trotwood but attend classes at Miami Valley Career Technology Center, where he is enrolled in computer networking courses.
Also, regardless of the football recruitment, Stephens plans on playing on the UAA Circuit with C2K Elite this summer.