Class of 2012 Devonta Pollard

Kemper County High School (Dekalb, MS) sophomore basketball player Devonta Pollard is one of the best players in the state of Mississippi and should wind up being one of the elite players in the class of 2012.

"Coach Carter in Starkville, Coach Bolden in Meridian, Coach Brent at Callaway and Coach Ross who was at Durant at the time but is now at McAdams told me about Devonta," said first-year Kemper County High School head basketball coach Kelvin Young. "They all told me I had a guy who can play. And the first time in practice, I was like 'oh my gosh.' I was like, 'wow' because he is something special."

Coach Young gives a great deal of credit to Devonta's mom for the type player and person he is.

"His mom, Miss Jessie Brown, was at East Mississippi Community College and was an All-American there I believe," said Young. "She has done a very good job with him. She has made sure he is humble and respects others and carries himself in a good-mannered type way."

Devonta has had to call on all that she has taught him the past five-plus months due to the passing of his father.

"He lost his father in August of last year due to cancer and he and his father were very close," said Young. "It was really tough on Devonta. I told our team we have to rally around him because it's hard for anyone to lose a loved one in life that close to them. For a 15-year-old kid that can handle that, it's unbelievable."

Coach Young plans on being there for Devonta as he deals with the passing of his father.

"I told him that I was going to help him get pass this and help him be a productive person in life," said Young. "You like to see young men develop and grow into good people. That's my goal and my pact with God. I want young men to be great. If I have to be his father-figure, then I'm going to be that."

Coach Young, due to his own circumstances growing up in Philadelphia, Mississippi, understands the importance of having a father-figure in a youngster's life.

"I didn't have a father around much, but I had a pastor and some uncles that were great to me," said Young. "My uncle is the mayor of Philadelphia and he was one of my big influences. My uncle Norris was a fireman in Philadelphia and he was also a big influence. Both have always been in community service and I watched them and hung around with them as I was growing up. They taught me a lot of things and I'm blessed for that."

When talking to Devonta you see and hear the positive influences of his mom, dad and Coach Young. He looks you directly in the eye and said yes sir or no sir. He also understands that he has a very special physical gift that allows him to be one of the very best on the basketball court while also understanding that that gift has to be worked on continuously for it to truly flourish. He gives credit to his mother for pushing him to be the best that he can be.

"My mom is 6-1 and she was a good basketball player (at East Mississippi Community College) who was drafted by the WNBA," said Devonta. "She knows what it takes to get me to that next level and she pushes me. And I'm not quitting on her. I'm going to continue to work hard."

Even as a youngster he had a special work ethic.

"I got out in the yard and worked on my game and it got better and better," said Devonta. "Just because I'm ranked in the state and in the nation that's not going to give me the big head and stop me from working hard. I'm still going to go out in the yard and to the gym and give it my all."

As for the player he is today, he understands his strengths and things he stills needs to work on to get even better.

"My strengths are if there is a big man on me, I just try to take him out to the wing and take him to the goal and if I have a smaller man on me I can take him down on the post," said Devonta. "I just need to work on my ball-handling a little bit more and work on being a little quicker off the dribble."

His coach agrees with Devonta's assessment of his game.

"I'm having to think about what his weaknesses are," said Young with a slight smile. "I want him to work on some things going off the dribble. I want him to be able to handle the ball better and play a guard type in college. But he should be able to play all of them, 2, 3 or 4 (positions)."

And he will be given an opportunity to play on that next level. Several colleges have already let that fact be known.

"I have (unofficially) visited Alabama and Mississippi State and I am probably going to visit Ole Miss," said Devonta. "Alabama and Mississippi State have told my coach that they are ready (to offer a scholarship). All I have to do is come by and get it."

Despite the unofficial scholarship offers, Devonta is not quite ready to say who is resting atop his recruiting list.

"I'm not really interested in any schools right now," said the 6-7, 195-pounder. "I grew up liking Duke and Florida and I liked Texas, but I have no favorites."

Keep it on Scout.com for the latest news on Devonta Pollard.


Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.


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