College Basketball: Stepheson leaving UNC
CHAPEL HILL ó Forward Alex Stepheson is transferring from North Carolina because he wants to be closer to his family in California.
“My family is dealing with some health challenges at this time, and as a result I have made the decision to transfer to be closer to home,” Stepheson said in a statement issued Friday by the school.
Stepheson, a Los Angeles native, was the backup to Deon Thompson at power forward. He averaged 3.16 points and 3.36 rebounds in two seasons in Chapel Hill, and as a sophomore this season was a key role player on a North Carolina team that won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship, reached No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll issued before the NCAA tournament and reached the Final Four.
“I am extremely, extremely disappointed, but I feel so great about Alex that I understand his decision to transfer,” coach Roy Williams said. “He is doing this because of health concerns and by being closer to home he will be able to provide the necessary support and help his family needs at this time.
“He is a wonderful kid. I thoroughly enjoyed coaching him and know that he would have contributed so much more in the next two years. … I’ll miss him, but he will always be important to me.”
School officials said they have granted Stepheson’s request for a release, a move that permits him to contact other programs.