Stepka looks to lead Woodson


W.T. Woodson is one of the most respected public school basketball programs in the D.C. area. The Cavaliers went 19-7 in 2007-2008 and coach Doug Craig returns several talented young players, including Stephen Stepka, who should make the Fairfax county school a potential contender for District and Virginia state honors in 2008-2009.

Stepka is a highly skilled, 6-foot-5 athlete who raised his recruiting profile last summer through excellent play in Woodson's summer league and by playing with D.C. Team Assault AAU program. The previous spring and summer, Stepka played AAU ball with the Nova United AAU Program.

"He played real well for us in the Nike Pro City league [at Coolidge High School in D.C]. We reached the semifinals down there and Stephen made the All-Star team. I was hearing from about five or six colleges a week this summer about Stephen," Craig said. "He mostly played on the D.C. Team Assault B team, but they moved him up to the Assault A Team for a couple of events - the A Team with Rodney McGruder [the heralded Kansas State recruit and Archbishop Carroll All-Met] and those guys. Stephen didn't get to play much in Las Vegas with the A Team, but played well with them in Cincinnati."

Stepka averaged 14 points, six rebounds, three assists, and three blocked shots a game for the Cavaliers playing mostly at the small forward position.

"We sometimes slid him over to play power forward when we went with a smaller, three guard attack," Craig said. "I think he'll be a three in college. He is pretty athletic, a very good outside shooter and has a high basketball IQ."

Craig said Stepka would likely wait until after his senior season to commit to a college rather than sign during the NCAA's early National Letter of Intent signing period.

Stepka has received recruiting interest from a range of Division I colleges, including schools in the academically oriented Ivy League and Patriot League.

"Education will definitely be a key part of his [Stepka's] college decision," said Craig. "I would think that if he had the opportunity to attend the right Ivy League school, that is an option that he and his parents will consider."

W.T. Woodson is a long-standing, traditional D.C. area public school hoops power which came into prominence the under legendary coach Red Jenkins and have long produced talented, highly recruited players like 1983 McDonald's All-American Tommy Amaker, the former Duke point guard who is now the head coach at Harvard University.

Craig is now in his fourth year as the Cavalier's head coach and W.T. Woodson's
Talented 2008-2009 roster includes three likely future Division I college players in Stepka, 6-1 junior guard Max Lenox and 6-4 sophomore guard John Schoof.

"We have most of our team back from a really good, young team that won 19 games in the very tough district. We have a chance to be a pretty special team this year. Woodson is a great program with a great tradition and I think this could be one of those really good Woodson teams," Craig said. "I really expect Stephen to be a big part of our success this year and to have a very good senior year."

James Quinn covers high school basketball for ESPNRISE.com