Davrion Grier struggled just to get on the court for the Myers Park boys’ basketball team last season.
As a junior he averaged two points and two rebounds per contest, appeared in 15 of 28 games and didn’t play a minute in the Mustangs’ playoff run to the 4A West Regional semifinals.
Grier’s biggest role on a team with nine seniors was guarding former Myers Park standout, Zaqwaun Matthews (now playing at Tennessee-Chattanooga).
Instead of giving in to frustration, Grier kept working.
“Last year was really tough at times sitting on the bench and watching most games, and I basically lost my confidence,” Grier said. “But I knew I had to keep working and keep fighting. It’s funny how even though I wasn’t playing in the games, our playoff run really helped a lot. Guarding Zaqwaun every day in practice pushed me and sort of brought me back to life.”
Myers Park basketball coach Wes Hepler said, “Last year was tough with nine seniors, Davrion was in one of those roles early on where he came in and made a mistake and I would take him out. But he never complained about his role. He knew he had to go out and prove he could be a player for this team.”
Grier made the most of the offseason, working with his Myers Park team and his EA Prep Sports’ AAU team.
Now a 6-foot-5, 170-pound senior, he has earned a spot in the Myers Park starting lineup. Grier, 17, is averaging 16 points, eight rebounds, one steal and one block per game. He has been on fire since the calendar turned to 2016, averaging 21 points and nine rebounds per game in the Mustangs’ past 12 contests.
Myers Park has benefited in that span, going 9-3 to turn a 4-7 overall, 0-2 in Southwestern 4A record into 13-10.
Grier, who is shooting nearly 70 percent, tallied 20 points and 12 rebounds against Garinger, 23 points and 14 boards against Rocky River and 24 points and 11 rebounds against Butler.
His size and quickness create tough matches for opponents.
“I had to get used to my role for this team,” said Grier. “But once I got comfortable, the game just slowed down and my confidence really grew. Now, there are a lot of times where I feel like people can’t stop me. I try to use my quickness and athleticism on the bigger guys and go inside if they put a guard or a wing on me.”
Grier has gotten a lot of help from a veteran Myers Park team that also features seniors Henry Richards (8.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and J.J. Schacht (6 ppg), as well as junior guards Kevin Alford (3.5 apg) and Zailan Peeler (10 ppg) and sophomore Isaac Suffren (10 ppg).
The 2016 Myers Park team is getting hot at the right time, much like the 2015 squad.
While they hope to have another great postseason run, Grier and Richards had a night for the ages in a 76-57 win over Garinger – on their senior night.
Richards had a career-high 27 points, hitting 6 of 8 three pointers, while Grier added a career-best 25 points and 11 rebounds.
Grier and Richards, who have played together since middle school, scored all 23 of their team’s points in the third quarter.
“We were just unconscious that night,” said Grier. “I can’t explain really, we were just in the zone.”
Grier has a history of proving he rise to the next challenge.
He got cut from his Alexander Graham Middle School team in eighth grade, stayed on as a manager and ended up making the Myers Park junior varsity team as a freshman.
After barely seeing the court as a freshman, he became a starter as a sophomore. Then came his jump from junior reserve on varsity to senior stardom.
“It’s crazy how I’ve kind of hit rock bottom in basketball a few times,” Grier said. “But you can’t count me out. I’ve learned a lot from basketball about being tougher mentally and emotionally. That translates into real life. I could have given up a couple times. But in the end, everything that has happened made me a stronger person. It feels like everything happened for a reason.”
Grier hopes to have to the opportunity to prove himself again – at the college level. He has gone from a virtual unknown to getting interest from schools like Bridgewater College (Va.), Anderson (S.C.) University and several junior college teams.
No matter where Grier’s basketball career takes him, Hepler says his story should inspire every player who has had to fight to prove themselves.
“There’s no doubt that Davrion’s story is something I will tell my teams every year for a long time,” Hepler said. “If you put your team before yourself, and keep working hard, then good things will happen. I don’t think you’ll ever see a better example of that then Davrion Grier.”
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.