Shelby High boys’ basketball coach Aubrey Hollifieldsaid there are “a million” reasons why he thinks senior guard Gabe DeVoe, who signed Wednesday with Clemson, is a special player and a special person.
But Hollifield said one thing in particular stands out. “He has a tremendous work ethic. He’s a great person. Small kids love him. His teammates love him. I love him. His teachers love him. But he never stops working. You read about some of those people, and you go, ‘Well, I don’t know.’ He is really one of those guys.”
DeVoe is the cousin of former NBA head coach and current Los Angeles Clippers assistant Alvin Gentry, who is a Shelby native. He also is the cousin of former Crest High and N.C. State star David Thompson.
At 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, DeVoe is blessed with athleticism and size. But Hollifield insists it is his work ethic that separates him from most of his competition.
Hollifield remembers coaching a junior varsity football game and DeVoe badgering him for the keys to the gym. When the football game was over, Hollifield said DeVoe still was shooting at the gym. He had taken about 1,000 shots using a machine that catches the ball inside a net and passes it back to him.
Last season, DeVoe averaged 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists while leading Shelby to a 27-4 record. Having success, he said, only fueled him to work harder.
“It’s about not being content with where you are,” DeVoe said. “You notice your flaws and notice there’s room to improve. It’s about staying humble and not buying into what everyone is saying.”
National recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons of Lenoir-based All Star Sports ranks DeVoe as one of the top 12 point guards nationally in the senior class and as a top 100 player overall.
“Gabe DeVoe is just the ultimate competitor,” Gibbons said. “He’s tall for a point guard, but he is a true floor leader. He’s not your typical point guard because he can put points up. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t find open teammates and run the show. He will be an outstanding player in the ACC and an excellent floor leader.”
Olympic High coach Ty Baumgardner’s team beat Shelby at a multi-team scrimmage Saturday, but Baumgardner – whose unbeaten team won the N.C. 4A championship last season – saw DeVoe go for 27 points against his team and for 45 against another.
“He’s really good,” Baumgardner said. “He’s 6-3. He’s strong and he’s got a great basketball body. He can shoot it from deep. He can take you off the bounce and because of his strength and his frame, he doesn’t get knocked off balance and he can finish in the lane. He handles it better than I thought and obviously how he goes is how (Shelby) goes, but they’re good anyway. I would have a hard time believing that there will be anybody better than him that we will play all year.”
DeVoe carries a 4.4 GPA and is ranked among the top 10 of his senior class academically.
“When you hear about all these guys signing, this is one of those where the good guy wins,” Hollifield said. “He does it all. It’s a good story. He gets everything he’s supposed to.”
Well, there’s one more thing DeVoe wants.
Shelby has reached two straight N.C. 2A Western Regional championship games. Each time, the Golden Lions lost, ending their season one game short of a state final.
This season, DeVoe wants to have one additional week of practice.
“This team is going to be different than last year’s,” he said. “Last year, we had a lot of size but we’ll be smaller now. We’ll be fast and we’ll be able to shoot the ball better than in the past. We have a good chance to get to the state championship. It’s really important to me, being so close the last two years, knowing what it feels like to be almost there. It would be good my senior year to know what it really feels like. I mean, every high school player wants to get to the state championship.”
Wertz: 704-612-9716; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr
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