by Farmer Jones / @thefarmerjones
“I probably don’t get the attention of some other guys at the big programs. I’m definitely trying to change that.”
The preceding quote could’ve come from any half-decent player at any program outside of the traditional powerhouses at any time in the recent history of college basketball. In this case, it came from Devan Downey, who I interviewed last month for a story in SLAM 135. I’d pitched a story on Devan a while ago, probably because he reminded me a little of Penn State’s Talor Battle: An undersized guard at a mediocre program who carried his squad with skill and heart. So I interviewed Devan and wrote the story (which you can read below), and then kinda forgot about him. Just the nature of the business, as Shawn knows.
Last night, Devan Downey reminded me. Nice work, dude.
Devan the Dude
SLAM 135, In Your Face
by Ryan Jones
Devan Downey took the long way home. He knows better than to expect any shortcuts on the way to the NCAA Tournament—let alone an NBA career.
One of the top prep point guards in the nation in ’05, Downey signed with Cincinnati and made the Big East all-rookie team. But the departure of Bob Huggins eventually led Downey to transfer, and the Chester, SC, native weighed offers from the likes of Florida and Wake Forest before choosing his home-state Gamecocks. After sitting out in ’06-07, the 5-9, 170-pounder re-introduced himself by making first-team All-SEC as a sophomore, a feat he repeated last year. He was also an all-league defender and honorable mention All-American in ’08-09; it added up to the sort of résumé that had him wondering if he was ready for a higher level.
So, he threw his name into the Draft mix. He worked out well for a few teams. He soaked up the hunches and the advice. And then he came back to school. “I wanted to get the feedback, and from what I was told by NBA people, it could’ve gone good for me, or it could’ve gone bad,” Downey says now. “I just decided there’s no need to chance it when it comes to your future.”
He wasn’t lacking good reasons to return. With Downey back, the Gamecocks returned four starters from a squad that went 21-10 last season, barely missing an NCAA berth. The chance to get his squad to the Dance and raise his already head-turning game was too much to pass up. And while his numbers—he averaged 19.8 ppg and 4.5 apg as a junior and is posting similar numbers this season—can’t get much better, he knows he can improve his stock in at least one area.
“Teams are looking for a winning point guard,” he says. “I want to be part of taking this program to the next level. If I do that, everything else will take care of itself.”