Stephen Zimmerman may have only joined the NBA this year but this baby-faced giant has been turning heads in the basketball world since high school. At seven feet tall, Zimmerman towers over most players on the court which gives him a big advantage on both offense and defense. As a center, he dominates the floor with his performance during his youth years which helped get him to the position he is today.
Growing up in Las Vegas is a big change from where Stephen Zimmerman was born in Hendersonville, Tennessee. At Bishop Gorman High School, he is quite the legend after leading his team, the Gaels, to a state championship victory in all four years of high school. Not only did this make him a local hero, it also made him the first player in Nevada high school basketball history to do so. Averaging 14.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game his senior year earned him a spot on the McDonald’s All-American Game, the Jordan Brand Classic and the U.S. National Team to compete in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship. By the time he finished school, he had amassed one hundred and fourteen wins cementing himself as the greatest player in his high school’s history.
Despite his incredible performances in high school, Stephen Zimmerman opted to attend college at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In the Mountain West Conference, he continued to draw attention after ranking third in rebounding (8.7 per game) and second in blocks (1.96 per game). While he only averaged 10.5 points per game, Zimmerman was such a force pulling down rebounds and playing immaculate defense that he was sure he would be drafted with only one year of college experience. He officially decided to join the draft on March 28 after only playing his freshman year at UNLV.
Considered an unusual choice in the draft, the Orlando Magic ultimately took Stephen Zimmerman in the second round of the draft as the forty-first pick. At their Summer League, Zimmerman continued to perform impressively and showing off his shooting range, something that had been underutilized in his year at UNLV. Midway through the summer in July, the Magic officially signed Zimmerman to their roster. Despite being signed early, he didn’t make his debut for the team until the end of October where he played eight minutes in a game against the Detroit Pistons and was able to grab four rebounds along with an assist. Due to his rookie status, the Magic opted to let him spend some time improving his game with the Erie BayHawks. They already saw the changes during the few games that Zimmerman earned playing time in with the most notable coming on the December 28 game against the Hornets. The twenty-year old played only six minutes but managed to grab four rebounds as well as score six points. With those numbers, Zimmerman may be turning into the big man presence that Orlando needs to help them turn their defense into an elite weapon.