Season recap: Alicia DeVaughn
Tommie Butts knew exactly what to expect from Alicia DeVaughn this season.
After her first three years at South Broward (Fla.) High, DeVaughn decided to transfer to Blanche Ely in Pompano Beach for her senior year. Butts couldn't help but notice the 6-foot-4 center during her first three years of high school.
When the Maryland-bound DeVaughn suited up for Butts' Ely squad for the first time last fall, expectations were immediately met.
“I thought she did a wonderful job," Butts said. "She showed tremendous leadership, she gave us extra possessions in ball games. She had 20 points and 32 rebounds in the win over Nova in the district semifinals. Then we came back and beat Dillard for the district championship. Then they came back and beat us for the state regional semifinals. But she did a lot of things for us."
DeVaughn led Ely to a 23-4 record. She averaged 19.5 points, 18.7 rebounds and 8.4 blocks. Opposing defenses always made concerted efforts to limit DeVaughn's effectiveness, but those efforts from the opposition never quite worked out.
“They knew she was the nucleus of our basketball team, and they tried to limit her to different things," Butts said. "They tried to push her away from the basket and force her to be a perimeter player. So Alicia could knock down some 3s and drive to the basket with ball penetration. But the biggest thing with our season was role playing and how our girls stepped up. Alicia was going to bring it every night and going to put up her numbers. It was just a matter of other girls playing their roles."
Butts said DeVaughn was a little timid at first around her new teammates. She was clearly the best player on the court from Day 1, but she felt uncomfortable assuming a leadership role from the start. Butts, however, "kind of forced" that role upon her, and never regretted doing so.
"When the girls lost focus in practice, she would say, ‘Listen, we’ve got a game to play. We’ve got to stay focused and humble.’ After we won the district championship game, she reiterated to the girls, ‘Our job is not finished. We have to go accomplish our goals, one game at a time and work hard in practice.’ She’s just a wonderful leader. ... And [after showing her skills and work ethic], I had a team vote and they all stated that they wanted Alicia to lead us and that’s how she came to be team captain."
DeVaughn's high school career may be over, but she has one very important game left on her schedule before she moves to College Park. DeVaughn will suit up for the East team in the 2010 McDonald's All-American Game on March 31 in Columbus, Ohio.
"It was a tremendous honor to our program and to Alicia," Butts said. "It actually brought morale to our program and really showed how much hard work pays off. Our girls feel very privileged and thrilled to be playing alongside a McDonald’s All-American player."
Butts said he thinks DeVaughn will be able to contribute 8-10 minutes per game for the Terps right away next fall. As the season progresses, Butts expects her to become more comfortable and play more minutes. If DeVaughn displays the same type of leadership and work ethic she did at Ely, Butts thinks the sky's the limit for her.
"She showed leadership, going to the younger players and giving them a belief in winning," Butts said. "She was just a tremendous help on and off the court. I hate to see her leave, but that’s part of life, I guess. I wish her the best up at Maryland.”