Overshadowed, underrated

Tennessee is hot on the trail of a fast-rising basketball player from talent-rich Memphis. Sign in or subscribe now for all of the details.

Memphis White Station is home to one of the state's highest-rated basketball prospects ... and probably one of the state's most underrated prospects, as well.

Somewhat lost in the shadow of Leron Black, rated the No. 5 power forward prospect in the Class of 2014 by Scout.com, is White Station teammate Davell Roby, a powerfully built 6-foot-4, 195-pound guard who exhibits loads of college potential in his own right.

Roby, a junior who turns 17 next January, displayed that potential in the recent KnoxVegas Heat Invitational Tournament. While in Knoxville for the event, he made an unofficial visit to the University of Tennessee campus, chatting with head coach Cuonzo Martin and assistant Tracy Webster.

"It went well," Roby told InsideTennessee. "Coach Martin is a cool dude. Coach Webster is a good dude. Great facilities. I liked it."

Martin imparted some of his basketball philosophy during the visit, and Roby was impressed with what he heard.

"The one thing Coach Martin said that stood out the most is that basketball is hard work," Roby said. "There's no magic tricks."

Maybe, but Roby showcased a few tricks during the KnoxVegas Tournament. For instance, in a 71-52 defeat of the Cincy Royals, he displayed his perimeter skills by nailing a pull-up jumper in transition, then seconds later showed he can slash by blazing past three defenders for a layup. Moments later, he showed his defensive abilities by making a nifty steal near midcourt and driving for a dunk.

Fans may have been impressed with Roby's performance but he wasn't.

"It was all right," he said, frowning. "I missed a lot of those shots I should've made."

Josh Maxey, head coach of the Hoop Dreams AAU team that Roby represents, says the young Memphian has the versatility to be special.

"He's been exceptionally good," Maxey said. "He's very heady. He's multiple. He can do a lot of things with the basketball. He shoots it well. He handles it well. He defends it really well. And he's very, very coachable. You can call a timeout, draw something up he's never seen, and he goes out and runs it."

Roby likes to play the percentages. He figures the closer he gets to the basket, the better the chances his shot will fall.

"I play the game from the inside out," he said. "I work my way inside. If I can't get the shot inside, I look for the outside shot. I try to help rebounding and playing defense, affect the game as much as I can."

Roby has been playing so well this summer that he appears on the verge of escaping LeRon Black's shadow.

"Davell's recruitment has blown up here lately," Maxey said. "His first call was from Memphis. Then came Louisville, Missouri, Tennessee, UAB, Alabama and Kentucky. Florida is interested, and so is Indiana."

Roby certainly fits the physical prototype Cuonzo Martin likes — a tall guard who can rebound and defend.

"He came to my school once before," Roby said of the Vol coach. "He's a cool guy, a nice guy. I can get along with him."

The Vols signed a Memphian last January, 6-foot-8, 270-pound Jarnell Stokes. Stokes played his junior season at Memphis Central High, then graduated from Southwind High, where he was ruled ineligible to play in 2011-12. Asked if Stokes' presence at Tennessee might be a factor in his recruitment, Roby paused thoughtfully.

"I never played with Stokes," the prospect finally said. "I always played against him, so I don't know how I feel about that. He's cool, though."


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