Originally created 06/30/00

Draftee is involved in high school fight

CLOVIS, Calif. -- Deshawn Stevenson got into a brawl at a gym shortly after the high school star was drafted in the first round by the Utah Jazz.

The 19-year-old guard was in the middle of a fight involving 20 youths following a high school all-star game Wednesday night, witnesses told the Fresno Bee.

Stevenson was punched during the melee and was able to get to his car and drive away, the newspaper said. Witnesses said police arrived and placed two men in a squad car.

Stevenson arrived at the gym after halftime. He signed autographs, shook hands with fans and sat in the center of the bleachers to watch the second half.

Joaquin Lopez, a school custodian who saw the fight, said Stevenson was jumped.

"He got punched and then landed some punches of his own," he said. "Then four of them chased (Stevenson) up in the stands and beat on him before he got away."

Lopez and a second witness, Will Goldbeck, said Fresno City College basketball coach Denny Aye escorted Stevenson to his new Lexus SUV in the Buchanan High School parking lot as some of the combatants gave chase.

Aye declined to comment to the Bee, and attempts to reach Stevenson were unsuccessful.

In Salt Lake City, David Allred, vice president of public affairs for the Jazz, said the fight did not affect Stevenson's standing with the team or the scheduled Thursday press conference to introduce him.

"We think DeShawn is the victim in this situation," Allred said.

Stephenson, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, had signed with Kansas, but made himself eligible for the draft when it wasn't certain if he would be eligible as a freshman. He was selected by the Jazz as the 23rd pick overall.

Jayhawks coach Roy Williams has called Stephenson one of the most gifted recruits he ever pursued. Last season, Stephenson averaged 30.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 6.2 assists a game as a senior at Washington Union High School.

Buchanan administrator Lemarr Treadwell also witnessed the fight and told the Bee he saw Stevenson leave the gym with two individuals in pursuit.

One of those, according to Treadwell, was ex-Clovis High School standout and Fresno State football recruit Chris Sims, who played in the all-star game.

"Chris was put in a squad car, and one other man was put in a squad car," Treadwell said.

Lopez said four Clovis police cars arrived at the scene shortly after Stevenson's departure.

"There were several small fights going on at the same time all over the gym," Lopez said.


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