JACKSONVILLE, Ark. – Some of the biggest fans watching the Razorbacks take on UConn Thursday were in Jacksonville, otherwise known as Devo-Ville.
The junior guard Davonte “Devo” Davis was the lead scorer against Kansas and brought a 2019-2020 season state title to Jacksonville High before signing on as a Razorback.
His team’s banner still hangs in the gym, so it doesn’t take long to see Devo’s lasting mark on Jacksonville Titans Basketball.
Even though Devo now has the attention on the national stage, he’s had Victor Joyner’s attention much longer.
“I’ve been knowing him since he was a pup, so we go way back,” the Jacksonville High Head Basketball Coach said.
Joyner’s been a coach in Jacksonville for 30 years and noticed an NBA-level talent in Devo.
“Senior year Devo had a little brain fart. He wanted to go play football and I don’t stop my kids from playing football, but I told him that’s not the side your bread is buttered on,” Joyner stated. “After a little while, he realized where he wanted to be and he came back in the gym.”
Joyner said whether they are still playing ball or not, he’s still a coach to every kid he’s mentored. According to Joyner, Devo actually came back to the Jacksonville High gym this past summer to take some time with the coach and refine his technique.
“After most games, me and Davonte communicate. About two or three weeks ago during the regular season and SEC tournament, I told Davonte that I thought he should get to his mid-range game more. I thought he was settling for a lot of threes, Joyner said.
“I implored him to get to the paint, get in there and create and he came out and that’s what he’s been doing,” the coach continued.
Joyner said Devo has always had a strong work ethic from the very beginning.
“When he was here, he would get up at 4’o’clock and work out from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. Come to school, make straight A’s, come to practice with me for three hours, and after that, he’d work out for two more hours and he’s the ultimate team player,” Joyner stated.
Coach Joyner said he never doubted the win for one minute against 1-seed Kansas, but he admitted the competition does get stiffer as the madness marches on. However, he insists if the Hogs give all their effort on and off the court, they can beat anybody. Devo almost said the same thing as he was briefing media Saturday.
“I think everyone, even the coaches and the team, contributed in some kind of way to help us win,” Devo said.
Coach Joyner said even if Devo scores two points instead of 20 tonight, he’ll be pulling weight on defense. He said it is a great defense that gets a team into the Sweet 16 and potentially beyond.
“It’s never been about Davonte. It’s always been about his teammates and the team,” Coach Joyner concluded. “So he’ll do whatever it takes to win the game.”