The Virginia basketball season kicks off tonight as the Hoos welcome UNC-Greensboro to town at 7pm. Over the last thirty days, we’ve taken a look at all things UVA basketball from potential starting lineups to schedule analysis to kicking off this year’s Pack Line Pledge and everything in between. This morning we looked at the matchup with UNC-G and big man Jack Salt. To round out our player profiles, it’s only fitting to finish up with fifth year do-it-all captain Devon Hall.
Hall, a Virginia Beach native, came to Charlottesville with London Perrantes, but ended up redshirting his first year. He has talked previously about how difficult it was to sit out that freshman season, but it’s benefitted him in the long run.
“We were down in the Virginia Beach area, and they asked him about his time – just coming in and having to wait.” Coach Bennett told the press at media day. “He talked about it: ‘I wanted to play. I redshirted. Then my first year, I really wanted to play. It was my second year in the program and I had Malcolm and all these guys, and I just learned. And yes, I’m not sure about this.’ And then he got into his sophomore year, and he became, just because he was steady – he was in his third year in our program – he just became an important part of it. He just talked about waiting and honoring the process, as we talk about all the time, and how worth it it was to keep improving. And though it didn’t happen right away, it wasn’t instant gratification, he just kept working, working.”
Last season, Hall averaged 8.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.9 rebounds in 27.4 minutes per game. He spent time in just about every position on the court and did anything asked of him by the coaching staff. After Austin Nichols was unceremoniously dismissed from the program, the Hoos found themselves depleted in a position they had felt very secure in. When needed, Hall shifted to the post to battle down low with the big men. Hall’s 4.4 rebounds per game were second on the team, behind Isaiah Wilkins (6.0 rpg) and just ahead of Jack Salt (4.1 rpg). His on-ball defense is arguably the best on the team, and he makes good decisions on the court. He shot 41% from the field and 37% from three last season.
“No one works as hard as Devon.” Bennett said. “He goes after his game. Reminds me of Malcolm in some ways, the way he’s driven and how he works, and again, hopefully you add a few things. You’re a little better, a little more assertive. But you know who you are as a player...It doesn’t mean Devon’s going to be doing crazy stuff, but they’ve (the seniors) earned the right to be a little more assertive...and as long as they’re helping the team, those are the things that happen.”
In addition to his contributions on the court, Hall possesses leadership and knowledge that is valuable off the court. He also finished his bachelors degree in media studies in just three years and is now pursuing his masters in Virginia’s Curry School of Education. His experience is incomparable for the younger players on the team.
“Definitely Devon,” redshirt first year DeAndre Hunter said when asked who he leaned on in his first year in the program. “He redshirted as well so he’s been through it. He just told me basically, ‘Stay ready, your time will come’.”
As one of three captains (along with Salt and Wilkins), Hall has earned the respect of his teammates.
“Devon is more the captain,” second year Kyle Guy said. “He’s not going to scream at you, but he’s going to tell you what needs to get done.”
“Him just letting me know that, like when I have a bad practice and I’m down on myself he’s just like, ‘Keep your head up, it’s happened to everybody. Everybody is going to have a bad practice. This is a process, just keep looking forward.’” First year Marco Anthony said of Devon’s leadership. “I really take that with me.”
The biggest criticism of Hall is his ability to get to the line, frequently taking a much more difficult shot and avoiding contact rather than taking it straight up and to the basket. When he does get fouled, he’s converting at a relatively comfortable clip (78%).
It truly cannot be understated how important a player like Hall is to the team this season. He brings experience and maturity to a young group. He’s the epitome of team player. In a college basketball landscape that sees a plethora of transfers year after year, Devon shows what can happen if you stick it out.
“He’s a good example of staying after it and not thinking the grass is greener.” Bennett said of his captain. “Look how it’s turned out for him.”
For Hall, he’s excited to take the court for his final season. “I’m ready to go,” he said. “I’m ready to play. This is my fifth year going to practice, this is my fifth media day, I guess. I’m ready to play. I’m anxious and I know the guys are, too.”
The wait for Hall & Co. is over. The 2017-18 season starts tonight.