Eric Devendorf (2003)

Eric Devendorf (2003)

Eric Devendorf is better than you.

Yeah, you.

While most kids are enjoying their summer, Eric, a 6’3″, soon-to-be-junior guard, is busting his ass with his assistant coach.

Getting better than you.

Dribbling drills, passing, shooting. And shooting. And shooting.

What, you thought being a top-ranked player in Michigan happens overnight?

Nuh-uh.

That’s why he’s better than you.

I call his house around lunchtime. A girl’s voice comes over the phone.

“Hello?”

I can tell his family gets a lot of these calls. Inconsiderate reporters, writers, journalists, all calling and asking to speak with Eric.

I’m one of those pricks.

“Hi. Is Eric there?”

“Yeah. May I ask whose calling?”

“My name’s Matt, I write for–”

Before I can finish, she’s calling for Eric. She knows the deal. He comes to the phone, not annoyed. Maybe pleased even.

The first thing I bring up is college. He’s got the likes of Duke, Arizona State, Syracuse, Michigan State, and Michigan hanging onto him. He tells me Texas A & M, too. The list keeps rolling and the kid still has two years of high school left.

I decided to take my chances and ask him the question kids our age hate to hear.

“I know you get this a lot, but where do you see yourself in college? Do you want to stay close to home?”

“I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t think there’s a frontrunner really,” he says humbly. “My mom wants me to stay close to home – Michigan, Michigan State – but I’m really looking for the best offer.”

The best offer?

When you have dozens of schools after you that are ranked top 10 in the nation year after year, which is the best offer? I decide to take my chances again. I challenge him. Try to piss him off. I doubt him.

“You think you’ll be able to hold your own? I mean this is D1 college basketball. You think you can handle it?”

He’s almost eager to answer.

“I know I can. I’ve worked hard and been able to play against top competition. I’m working out with my assistant coach and I think I’m ready for all of that.”

We talk about his school, Bay City Central, and what it’s like coming from a school not known for hoops.

“(Bay City Central) isn’t a basketball school. It’s motivation for me to try and make it one,” Devendorf said.

He tells me about how he’s been working, hard, with his coaches and teammates. He tells me about his shooting workouts – “500 shots a day” – and his dribbling drills. I ask Eric to describe his game in three words. He uses – and only needs – one.

“I’m flashy.” Then: “I do a crossover dribble a lot and I learned that from Iverson,” Eric said. “But, I’m flashy and like to try things and I learned that from Pistol (Pete Maravich).”

I asked him if he mixed retro with new school, Iverson with Pistol.

“Oh yeah, I like to mix it up. The best of the best. The best part of my game is definitely my quickness and ability to get to the hoop. I also like the three.”

Eric’s factual, but modest. It might have even been a stretch to get him to talk about his game, much less talk about his high points.

I bring up competition, who’s the best he’s played against.

“The Saginaw Valley is tough, man,” Eric said. “The best players I’ve played against is probably (former Saginaw High, now University of Florida guard) Anthony Roberson and some players from the ABCD Camp.”

Although his future is still undecided, Eric Devendorf is the type of players coaches like. He’s good – shit, he knows he’s good – but why tell you about it?

You’ll see him soon enough.

Then you’ll know:

Damn. He is better than me.