Posted: Friday, January 10th 2014 at 12:08pm
East Hall looking to make most of Davenport's development (VIDEO)
By Morgan Lee Editor
East Hall's Kyvon Davenport, left, grabs a rebound in front of Johnson's Drew Dunham in the Lanierland tournament final played earlier this season.
RABBITTOWN -- Two years ago Joe Dix wondered if Kyvon Davenport would ever be a regular contributor for East Hall basketball.
These days Dix mixes Davenport’s name in the same conversation with those of Antoine Whelchel and Walter Hill.
It’s safe to say the Vikings junior has come a long way from those initial practice sessions when he struggled just to dribble the ball or make a lay-up.
“(Davenport) just showed up in the summer (before his freshman year started). I remember it very well,” coach Dix said. “He walked in and said he wanted to play ball, and it was obvious very early on that he was going to need a lot of work. He didn’t play very much as a ninth grader, and then he started to progress. We moved him up, right at end of his ninth grade year, and last year he became a part-time starter. This year he’s just kind of exploded on the scene.”
Indeed, Davenport’s dominance has been a revelation for the Vikings, with the forward averaging 19 points and 15 rebounds over the first half of the season.
(NOTE: To watch a video feature with Davenport, simply click “play” in the box to the right.)
“The last guy we had close to that was Antoine Whelchel, who played at Murray State in the late 90s,” Dix said. “Those are impressive numbers and he’s been pretty consistent. He’s had one single digit game in rebounding and one in scoring.”
Perhaps most impressive is that Davenport has just scratched the surface of his potential.
Now a determined, confident and focused player on -- and off -- the court, Davenport is looking not only to continue his meteoric rise but also help the Vikings back to the lofty perch they occupied when players like Whelchel roamed the floor.
“This team could be great because we’re still young and learning, everyone’s still developing,” Davenport said. “We’ve got to keep getting better. We’ve got to be more consistent through the whole game. But I’m ready. I’m ready to win, ready to win all of it.”
Davenport has led East Hall through a roller-coaster start to the campaign that has seen the Vikings go 6-7, 2-2 in Region 7-AAA, against a rigorous schedule that included top teams such as Buford and a holiday tournament appearance in Florida against some of that state’s top-ranked squads.
Now, East Hall wants to grow from that experience and storm down the stretch run of the campaign.
“It’s gone good at some points, at some points gone bad,” Davenport said. “Right now we just need to keep winning. We need to win in region.”
That will include a key 7-AAA match-up Friday night at White County where Davenport will look to use his size and effort to dominate under the basket as he has for much of this season.
“The great thing about him is we run stuff for him, but you don’t have to run anything for him to score because he’s such a great rebounder. He just goes and gets it,” Dix said. “He saw a little different side down in Florida, especially after the first game when teams started putting double-teams on him. He struggled a little bit, but he’s adjusted since then. And we’ve seen some more double teams since then and he’s handled it better.”
Davenport knows he can expect more of the same from here on out -- it comes with the territory of being a dominant inside player -- even if he is still getting used to that fact.
Already a player that prides himself on defense, Davenport is continuously working in the weight room – “I know I need to get bigger and stronger,” the 6-foot-5, 180-pound Davenport says -- as well as on his ball-handling and offensive skills. And Dix says that side of his game could eventually pull Davenport away from the basket.
“He’s a good ball-handler, and he’s got a chance to be a great ball-handler. He may end up being able to play the wing, because he can shoot it out at 3-point range,” Dix said. "We don’t let him shoot it right now, because he understands what he has to do for us. His game’s expanding. He kind of reminds me of (mid 2000s East Hall standout) Walter (Hill). He started off playing inside and eventually he became a permanent wing.”
That’s in the future, however. For now, Davenport and his teammates are concentrating solely on making the most of this campaign.
“We’re working hard on getting better,” Davenport said. “We all work together. And we pass the ball to the open guy.”
Dix also believes his team is close to a tipping point, though he adds that a big victory could do wonders for the squad.
“I think we’re close. We need a signature win though,” Dix said. “This group right here as a whole has been on good teams, but most of them haven’t been that key guy on a team that got a signature win.”
Certainly Davenport is making a push toward becoming that player.
“He gives us a little bit of swagger,” Dix said.
It’s a long way from two years ago, and there’s still plenty to come for Davenport and the Vikings.
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