By Frank Rizzo
CORTLAND April 20, 2001 Kevin DeVantier of Roscoe, Western Sullivan League (WSL) basketball MVP in his senior year, got a rude shock when he tried out for the SUNY-Cortland mens basketball team.
He didnt make the cut at the competitive Division III school.
It was very unexpected, DeVantier said from his off-campus apartment recently. I was real disappointed
I was trying to transfer [to another college], but it didnt work out. I really wanted to play [college hoops].
Now finishing his junior year but in his sophomore year of athletic eligibility the 6-foot-3 DeVantier is in a position to win a starting job on the Red Dragons next season.
Were replacing our whole backcourt, the 1, 2, and 3 guards, said Cortland coach Tom Spanbauer. It will be a transition year and this is where someone like Kevin, who has experience with our program, has a great opportunity. Hell be competing for one of those starting spots. Thats been one of his goals, and is a tribute to his work ethic and commitment.
DeVantier, a 3 guard, said he began to play against team members in the off-season beginning his freshman year.
Kevin spent the year improving his strength and his game, Spanbauer noted. He put in good time.
Asked about his off-season self-improvement, DeVantier replied, Im stronger, a little quicker, with a better shot.
DeVantier knew his playing time would be limited, being a backup to two-time All-American guard Tom Williams, the SUNY Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
Coming off the bench was a new experience for me, admitted DeVantier, who averaged 18.4 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game in leading Roscoe to the WSL and Section IX Class D titles in 1998.
DeVantier felt his best game came against Oneonta on January 30, a 58-56 win by the Red Dragons. Cortland trailed 19-15 with in the first half, but took a 21-19 lead on back-to-back three-pointers by DeVantier.
DeVantier finished with six points in 15 minutes, both career-bests.
My role on the team wasnt to score, said DeVantier, who added 30 lbs. to his high school playing weight of 170 lbs.
In the season just past DeVantier played 123 minutes in 19 games for a 6.5 average. He made 5/27 field goal attempts and was 4/19 from three-point range. DeVantier finished with 16 points.
Cortland lost the SUNYAC championship final to Brockport, 69-63. It was the third straight year and fourth time in five years it had reached the final.
Cortland has now made seven straight post-season appearances. There have been three trips to the NCAA Division III tourney.
This year, for the fourth time in this span, the Red Dragons were invited to the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Mens Upstate Basketball Championship. Last month, the top-seeded Red Dragons were upset by Rensselaer 61-56 in the opening round.
Spanbauer, who was tabbed SUNYAC Coach of the Year this season, had high hopes for DeVantier: Kevins a very aggressive defender who rebounds the basketball very well. His strength in the backcourt is a real plus for us.
For his part DeVantier looks forward to a season when I can get out there and be a major part of the team.
His advice to any high school hoopster contemplating playing college ball?
Work as hard as possible, DeVantier said. There are hundreds of players out there who can put up as good or better numbers than you did in high school.