College Basketball Nation: Stephen Lumpkins

American Eagles lose top player to MLB

June, 10, 2011
Junior forward Stephen Lumpkins, the projected top returning scorer and rebounder for American, will forgo his senior season and sign a contract with the Kansas City Royals after being selected in the 13th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft this week, the school announced.

American won 22 games behind star senior Vlad Moldoveanu this season, and big things were expected of Lumpkins after averaging 13.5 points and 8.2 rebounds and compiling the best field goal percentage in the Patriot League.

But as a 6-foot-8 left-handed pitcher, Lumpkins might have found his calling after being drafted for a second straight year despite American not fielding a varsity team. Lumpkins still went in the 42nd round to the Pittsburgh Pirates last year and then pitched in a college summer league to keep working at his craft.

According to the Washington Post, Lumpkins impressed at a pre-draft workout and decided to make the jump after the Royals agreed to pay for his final year of college. He will report to the Royals' rookie-league team next week.

"It was definitely a tough decision," Lumpkins told the paper. "But the opportunity to play professional baseball was something I've always wanted to do and I couldn’t pass it up."

"We thank him for the three years of hard work he gave our program," coach Jeff Jones said in a statement. "We wish him well."

UC Santa Barbara's Phippen is a rarity

June, 10, 2010
UC Santa Barbara forward Sam Phippen, who was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 41st round of the Major League Baseball draft, is believed to be the only Division I athlete to play both basketball and baseball this season.

The 6-foot-9 Phippen earned that designation when he came out for baseball for the first time after playing sparingly as a junior on the basketball team, averaging 9.4 minutes in 22 games with the Big West champions.

By midseason, baseball coaches discovered Phippen could throw about 92-93 miles per hour and used him out of the bullpen in seven appearances, watching him compile a 7.71 ERA but show talent with a right arm that hadn't seen much action since high school.

Team communications director Matt Hurst, meanwhile, discovered upon sending out an e-mail to every Division I athletic department in the nation and receiving no responses that Phippen might very well be the only athlete to play both baseball and basketball this season.

Two other Division I college basketball players who were selected as pitchers in the draft -- Northern Iowa's Lucas O'Rear (13th round, Cincinnati Reds) and American's Stephen Lumpkins (42nd round, Pittsburgh Pirates) -- went to schools that did not have baseball programs.