AU athlete drafted for Major League Baseball

AU athlete drafted for Major League Baseball

The 2011-2012 AU men’s basketball team knew it would be without last year’s leading scorer, as Vlad Moldoveanu finished his senior year this past winter. Now, it will be missing its second-leading scorer as well.

Forward Stephen Lumpkins has decided to forego his senior season and sign with the Kansas City Royals after being drafted by the Royals in the 13th round (396th overall) of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft. The Pittsburgh Pirates chose Lumpkins in the 42nd round of last summer’s draft, and he jumped at the chance at signing this time around.

“The deciding factor for me was the opportunity to get into pro baseball with an organization I was comfortable with,” Lumpkins said.

According to The Washington Post, Lumpkins’ recent workouts have seen him reach 88 mph on the radar gun, although scouts had been tentative to commit to him because he hasn’t been facing live competition regularly. AU last fielded a varsity baseball team in 1986, so Lumpkins pitched for the Bethesda Big Train in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League last summer.

Lumpkins, who was set to spend the summer playing for the Laconia Muskrats in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, will instead head to the Royals’ rookie team in the Arizona League sometime next week.

“It was a very tough decision as the AU basketball program and community has had such a positive impact on my life over the past three years,” he said.

On the court, the forward averaged 13.5 points and 8.2 rebounds last season while compiling the best field goal percentage in the Patriot League. A second-team All-Patriot League performer, Lumpkins was expected to headline this year’s Eagles alongside fellow rising senior Troy Brewer. Now, his career at AU ends with him ranked fourth all-time in blocks and 19th in rebounds.

“The thing I’m going to miss the most is the guys on the team,” Lumpkins said. “We have such a close team and honestly the hardest thing for me to do was to tell them about my decision.”

Lumpkins’ departure means that AU will now have to replace four of the five starters from last year’s 22-win team that finished second in the Patriot League. Aside from Brewer (11.5 points), no returning player on the roster averaged more than five points last season.

“We met with Stephen [Thursday] and he let us know that he has chosen to pursue a career in baseball,” AU Head Coach Jeff Jones told AU Athletics. “We thank him for the three years of hard work he gave our program. We wish him well.”

Lumpkins’ top memory from AU is the team’s appearance in the NCAA Tournament his freshman year. The forward played 13 minutes in the Eagles first round matchup against Villanova.

“I had a great experience at AU and am going to get my degree at some point,” Lumpkins said.

Ttomea@theeagleonline.com

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