Who remembers being in high school? The hormones, the pressure of keeping up with all your classes, and attempting to keep a social life intact while still learning where you fit in the big wide world. Imagine on top of those teenage pressures; you’re a star athlete with the world at your feet, capable of realizing the dreams of teenagers all over the world.
David Stewart doesn’t need to imagine a life like that; he’s living it. Holding it down both academically and athletically, David has those running division one college programs salivating over a multi-faceted scorer with a thirst for knowledge both on and off the court. Standing at 6’8 while still only 17 years old, David provides his team with mismatch opportunities galore.
“I have tried my best to get my GPA as high as I possibly can because there are so many kids that have it down in terms of basketball, but they fall behind in the academic aspect, which holds them back for the duration of their career. So having a high GPA has been a focus of mine.”
Throughout the last decade, the tides have turned in the NBA, causing a trickle-down effect to the junior levels. Big men are practically required to shoot from deep now, and the post-game has become a sleeping giant with no signs of awakening. David has come along at the right time it would seem, as his talents are far more suited to a perimeter role where he can score or facilitate for others, rather than be stuck on the post hunting for scraps off the rebound.
“I feel more comfortable playing on the perimeter, being able to make passes, and I’ve been shooting way beyond the college three-point line for a few years. But if there’s a smaller defender, I will still get down on the post and work out of there for sure.”
It’s that profound shooting ability that saw David decide to move school last year, swapping his local high school Broadneck for the well known Mt Zion Prep Academy. Transferring school was a move which resulted in David playing in a position more natural to his skillset.
“For the first three years of high school, I was at my local public school called Broadneck, but my head coach didn’t see my vision. I was spending more time on the low block, and the ball wasn’t a focus for me. So, I had to get out for my senior year, so I went to Mt Zion Prep, and I’ll be coming back for another prep year”.
For a teenager, making a move to a new school is a daunting task, to then be forced indoors due to a pandemic is unthinkable. Couple those setbacks with the possibility of missing out on AAU basketball in a few months and you start to feel the gravity this pandemic weighs on the student-athlete entering their final push – be that in high school or college.
“I have played AAU basketball since fifth grade; I would say, on various teams – some local. Last year I played for team Melo in the EYBL; this year, I was hoping to play for them again, but with the current pandemic, who knows?”
Being stuck indoors due to the coronavirus pandemic has allowed David to begin looking towards the future, he has the time on his hands to reflect on recruitment meetings while making sure he’s prepared for any more to come.
“Since I got to Mt Zion, it’s taken off a lot, the main schools that have been reaching out to me are; George Washington, Vanderbilt here and there, Princeton, George Mason, UMBC and UNC Wilmington. And a lot of other colleges have reached out too over the last couple of days.”
David’s outlook on the inevitable step up to the college level is endearing, too, as he remains realistic about the task of working his way up the rotation once he takes that next step in his development.
“I have played on teams where I have been the best player and others where I have been the worst player. It will be a challenge to make a move to college and learn from older guys. But I spent last year learning from older guys at Mt Zion, all these players that are so talented and that I can learn from.”
If David’s grounded approach to earning his rotation minutes impresses you, then get ready to be blown away. A young player with his skillset and aptitude for learning will undoubtedly draw attention from the professional ranks sooner rather than later should he continue developing. Yet, David understands the long-term importance of obtaining his degree – something he has firmly in his sights before making the jump to the professional ranks.
“I think that getting a degree is something I want to focus on, I mean, the ball is going to stop bouncing at some point. But playing professional basketball has been a goal of mine since I was a child, if the opportunity arises, I will find a way of doing both, that’s for sure.”
When it got put to David that opting to complete four years in college could hurt his draft stock, he seemed unfazed, instead, showing belief in himself to make the correct decision for him at the right time.
“Any team that would be willing to have me is something I would consider. Playing professionally is a blessing, and it’s just a matter of figuring things out when the time comes.”
For now, though, David is just focused on improving his all-round game. Focus on overcoming the challenges that playing high-school level basketball can bring.
“I would say getting quicker, stronger, adding some muscle to my frame. I need to work on my handles and making plays for myself of the bounce for sure.”
If you’re interest has been piqued by David’s potential, and you’re looking to make some player comparisons, then look no further. After speaking with David’s dad, he details how David’s game is similar to Duncan Robinson, Gordon Hayward, and the illustrious Klay Thompson who are all amazing players in their own right.
With such a level head on his shoulders, David is taking nothing for granted. One thing’s for sure though, his size and length coupled with his skill set as a shooter and play-maker, the world is currently at David’s feet and with a calm head and strong support network, there’s no reason he can’t make it all the way. Keep an eye on this young floor stretcher; he’s going places.
This interview was conducted between David and Adam Taylor of The 450 Times.