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DeVaughn Mallory, Gatorade POY in Delaware, commits to Delaware State

04/10/2015, 11:30am EDT
By Dan Newhart

Dan Newhart (@danny_newhart)

On March 30, Polytech senior DeVaughn Mallory, winner of the 2014-2015 Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year award in Delaware, decided he will continue his academic and basketball career at Delaware State University.

When it came time to make a decision about where he would play his college ball, Mallory, a two-time all-conference selection, knew he wanted someplace close to home. He is very close with his family, and playing close would give them the chance to see him play.

That desire, combined with his appreciation for Delaware State’s coaching staff, prompted him to choose the Hornets.  

“After hearing about the seniors they have going to play professionally overseas, and guys like Kendall Gray going to the NBA draft, it seemed right,” Mallory said. “Also when their head coach was out, their assistant coach stepped up, and their coaching staff is just really good.”

Mallory filled the stat sheet in his senior campaign for the Panthers. The 6-foot-7, 195 pound big man averaged a solid 19 points and 11 rebounds per game, while shooting 54 percent from the floor. Mallory also averaged four assists, three steals, and three blocks per contest.

He has also done outstanding work in the classroom, accumulating a 92.7 percent overall average. Mallory was declared the winner of Gatorade’s POY award on March 20, making him the second player ever chosen for the award from Polytech High School.

“It was definitely a goal of mine,” Mallory said of winning the award. “Seeing my senior teammate when I was a freshman win it and now having the chance to is definitely something I set out for.”

Delaware State is a program that has been on the upswing of late. After a 9-25 finish in 2013-2014, the Hornets finished the 2014-2015 season at the .500 mark, 18-18.

Probably Delaware State’s most noteworthy game this past season came on March 14 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title game against Hampton University. With a win, the fifth-seeded Hornets would receive just the second NCAA tournament berth in the school’s history.

Of course, Delaware State lost that game to sixth-seeded Hampton by a score of 82-61, and was denied a ticket to the big dance. Despite that, Mallory is optimistic about the team’s future.

“If they won that game against Hampton, they would’ve made the NCAA tournament, so I know this is a team that will be able to compete,” Mallory said.

Mallory was one of the main catalysts for Polytech’s turnaround in the win column this season. The Panthers finished 2014-2015 with a record of 22-2 and a state title. The 22 wins were a 17-game improvement from their 5-15 mark in 2013-2014.

Polytech head coach John Pierce, who has coached Mallory since his freshman year, believes Mallory really stepped up as a leader this senior season. That senior leadership, along with the team’s commitment to getting in the gym during the offseason, was a big factor in the Panther’s turnaround season.

“He was actually put forth to be the captain his senior season, he and Ricky Hicks,” Pierce said. “Our offseason was real big. As a group, even though a lot of them were playing AAU all over the place, everybody made the effort to be there. Commitment was big for us this year.”

Mallory admitted it was tough to go through a losing season his junior year, but he did not get down on himself or his teammates. Rather than sulk over the losing season, he chose to use the disappointment to motivate himself.

“Last season we had a lot of egos, team chemistry wasn’t as high,” Mallory said. “This year, guys like me, Ricky [Hicks], and Juwan [Gray] could step up more. Our last loss this year definitely hurt more, because we knew we could’ve won it. Last season, guys didn’t have a good mindset about it.”

The Hornets will certainly have some holes to fill going into this season. Among the players departing are two seniors who played a key role for this year’s squad: MEAC Player of the Year candidate Kendall Gray and senior point guard Tyshawn Bell.

Gray, also Polytech graduate, is a 6-foot-10, 240 pound center headed to the NBA draft. He averaged 11.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per contest this past season. Bell, the team’s starting point guard, averaged 11.1 points per game and 5.5 boards.

While those losses will hurt Delaware State, they may end up working in Mallory’s favor. His hope is that because of these departures, he will get an opportunity to showcase his skills early on at the collegiate level.

“I felt he could go in there right away and make an impact, I don’t know if they felt that but I felt that,” Pierce said of Delaware State.

“It hurts Delaware State, but of course it helps,” Mallory added. “It means I’ll most likely get more playing time to show I can help this team and be a factor for them.”

As mentioned, winning Gatorade POY was a goal for Mallory this season. However, there are still parts of his game he’d like to improve before getting to the next level. In particular, he would like to improve his strength and ball-handling skills this offseason.

If this past offseason is any indication, Mallory is certainly dedicated to and understands the importance of improving his game going forward. This summer, he plans to be in the gym as much as possible, even if that means skipping out on time with friends if necessary.

“A big factor I know I need to work on is I need to get bigger,” Mallory said. “Coaches have also told me I need to work on my ball-handling. During the summer, I won’t be going to the beach or out with friends as much, I’ll be in the gym so when the actual season comes I’ll be more prepared to help.”

“He can always improve his dribbling, because I believe at some point he can be a wing player,” Pierce added. “Consistency and efficiency are his strengths, and he doesn’t complain about a lot. He has a motor so I have confidence in him going forward.”

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