Once a simple passion, basketball has taken Gabe DeVoe to places he could only dream of.
A former star at Shelby High, DeVoe scored 2,072 career points before playing at Clemson. His professional career took him around Europe, playing for teams in Italy, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine before landing with FOS Provence Basket this spring.
“Seeing how long I can bounce a basketball,” DeVoe’s Twitter bio states.
DeVoe understands his basketball career has an expiration date. However, a joint venture between him and other former Shelby High basketball players aims to bounce the ball around for local youth long after his hardwood days are over.
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Named after the Golden Lions basketball legend, Team DeVoe Basketball Academy recently completed its second season of AAU travel basketball. Launched in 2020, the program was created in hopes of providing young athletes in Cleveland County with a local option to hone their skills.
“For us it was either a trip to Gastonia, Charlotte or Forest City Heat and a tryout for their elite squad,” said Team DeVoe program director Davon Whiteside. “Forest City Heat has been locking things down here for a while. It’s hard enough to find an AAU program, and even harder to do (the team).
“When we started this we saw the talent and we saw that there was nowhere to play and develop their skills and occupy themselves. Our hope was to give them a place to do these things and to put them with coaches who know the game and have done things they hope to do.
Youth in the 11, 13 and 14 age groups competed under the Team DeVoe banner this summer. The teams were coached by former Shelby High basketball players Daylan Fuller, Danny Sanders and Adam Webber.
Team DeVoe wrapped up the 2022 season in June with a trip to Virginia Beach and the Teammate Hoops National Championships. Every team performed well, including the Under-13 team which advanced to the semi-finals of their group.
“When we started, we didn’t really know what to expect,” Whiteside said. “There’s been a lot of community support, a lot of cooperation from parents and others to ensure the DeVoe team has a bright future.”
With that in mind, Whiteside said the organization’s brain trust is looking for ways to keep the product fresh and appealing to young people in Cleveland County.
Team DeVoe held its first basketball invite to Lloyd Little Gymnasium at Shelby High in June. In the weeks that followed, Whiteside said interest grew. To meet the need, the basketball academy is adding third- and fourth-year teams to the three already offered.
“It’s not a three or four month commitment, it’s something we want to be long term. For this to happen, parents and players need to acquire knowledge every time they step onto the field. Our goal is to improve,” he said. “There have been many sleepless nights trying to make sure that I find the right tournaments to place the kids, that we do enough fundraising, that we make ourselves visible in the community and that we use our resources wisely.”
Although he’s not involved in the day-to-day business of the basketball program, DeVoe stays in the know despite the six-hour jet lag. “We cannot converse all the time because it is several hours ahead of us (in France). But nothing that happens with Team DeVoe happens without me speaking with (DeVoe),” Whiteside added.
You can reach Joe Hughes at 704-914-8138, email [email protected] and follow @JoeLHughesII on Twitter.