Last season, Barrington Stevens III went from being a standout prep player to a freshman playing Division I college basketball. This season, with a year of limited experience under his belt, the South Alabama point guard was asked to play the role of a veteran in the backcourt, helping the Jaguar freshmen adapt to their new surroundings, new system and new experiences.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder from Allen, Texas, has made the transition, and it this season has been a transition for him as well. New coaching staff, new system, new role. As the season reaches its final stage, Stevens is becoming the veteran player he was, by circumstances, asked to become.

"I think it's extremely challenging,'' South Alabama head coach Matthew Graves said of the roles Stevens was asked to accept. "First, any time you go through a coaching change you're trying to learn a new system and adapt to a new style and also, in his situation coming in as a sophomore, it's not like he played a ton of minutes (last season). On top of that, you've got three older guys in Antoine (Allen) and Augustine (Rubit) and Mychal (Ammons) that everyone is talking about as guys who could be potential leaders of the team.

"So he was in a tough position. I think early on he did a good job and throughout the middle part of the season, around Christmas, he struggled some. But he hung tough and he came to work every day. His patience and work ethic are really starting to shine through as we head down the stretch here.''

Stevens said he has noticed the change in his game and he has become more comfortable in the latter stages of the season.

"It's something that I had to embrace,'' he said. "I didn't have any time to sit back and say, 'Who can I look up to?' You just have to take that year you have under your belt and get better. I think I've grown with this coaching staff at being more mature at the point guard position.

"I think (assistant coach) Russ (Willemsen) and coach Graves and coach (Darrnell) Archey especially, with the workouts, have gotten me to slow down and not dribble as much and to make better decisions with the ball. With their help, it has made the transition easier for me to do that.''

Stevens and his teammates have produced better offensive results over the past couple of weeks, a change that will need to continue as the Jaguars face their final four games of the season, each game important to the Jags' hopes of reaching the Sun Belt Conference tournament. Currently in last place in the league, only the top eight teams in the 10-team league reach the tournament. Still, a strong finish - and a little help - would find South Alabama qualifying for the tournament.

As such, the play from the Jags' perimeter players, especially at the point, takes on added importance now.

"It's going to be pretty tough. ... It's just a matter of taking it one game at a time, not necessarily saying, we've got to win three out of our next four,'' Stevens said. "If we just get everybody to be comfortable getting this next game and then moving on to the next one; playing every game like it's a championship game really. If we have that mindset, I think we'll be OK.