When Gabe DeVoe first took the court at Charlotte Hornets minicamp this week, he knew he had to separate himself.
The Hornets invited 19 players to work out in Spectrum Center this week, with eight of them already locks for the team’s summer league roster. DeVoe, a former Shelby High and Clemson guard who went undrafted two weeks ago, didn’t have much time to make an impression.
But in four days of drills and scrimmages, that’s what he did. DeVoe survived two cuts, and now he’s headed to Las Vegas with the rest of the summer league roster.
“I just went out and played with confidence,” he said. “Felt like I didn’t really turn the ball over, made shots when I had them and was making the simple play.”
In high school, DeVoe was, above all else, a creator and a scorer. He averaged 34 points as a senior at Shelby, and set school records for career points (2,072) and 3-pointers (218). He was the Associated Press and Charlotte Observer Player of the Year in 2014, and came to Clemson a three-star recruit.
DeVoe’s first three seasons as a Tiger weren’t as flashy. He didn’t start a game until his junior year. His minutes and points improved each season, but the progress was incremental. In his first 83 games, DeVoe averaged 5.3 points in 18.8 minutes of playing time.
Then his senior year came, and everything changed.
DeVoe started all 35 games for a 25-10 Clemson team. He averaged 14.2 points and scored more points in one year (497) than he did in his previous three (439). He shot 39.6 percent from downtown, sinking a career-high 86 3-pointers.
He peaked in the NCAA tournament, scoring 22, then 22 again, then a career-high 31 as Clemson advanced to its first Sweet 16 in 21 years. Those 31 points came against Kansas and DeVoe’s current teammate, Devonte’ Graham — which has led to some friendly trash talk. But, jokes aside, DeVoe realizes the importance of those last three college games he played.
“It was huge,” the 6-foot-3 guard said. “That was one of the reasons I feel like I’m in this position now. Just going out every game and putting it all on the line, because, at that point, no more games are guaranteed.”
DeVoe was in a leadership position all season for the Tigers — especially after fellow senior Donte Grantham tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in late January. That maturity, plus the experience that comes with playing in 118 career games, stood out to Hornets coach James Borrego.
“He looks very comfortable out there,” Borrego said. “Looks like he’s played four years, like he’s run a team.”
The Hornets recognize DeVoe’s shooting abilities, and they’ve challenged him in other ways: more ballhandling, limiting turnovers, setting up teammates and trusting them to make the right play. It’s emblematic of the role he’ll play in summer league, as a reserve guard behind Graham and Malik Monk.
“I played more off ball, more coming off screens and shooting and creating for myself,” DeVoe said of his role in college. “Now, at this level, I’m probably going to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”
Borrego said earlier this week that the Hornets’ roster players will get priority in Las Vegas, when it comes to minutes. Playing time may be somewhat limited for DeVoe. But, in whatever minutes he gets, DeVoe’s strategy to best market himself won’t be a complicated one.
“Just making the simple play,” he said. “I feel like that’s the biggest thing. Not trying to go for the home runs — just base hits.”
Chapel Fowler: 704-358-5612; @chapelfowler