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For Clemson’s Gabe DeVoe, Patience and Hard Work are Paying Off

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NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

When picking a college destination, Gabe DeVoe wanted to play in the ACC, but also wanted to stay close to his hometown of Shelby, North Carolina. Only an hour and 40 minutes away, DeVoe crossed the state line and enrolled at Clemson.

Despite an offer sheet that was mostly comprised of local schools such as Appalachian State, Elon, and Charlotte, DeVoe was billed as a sharpshooter and was named the Charlotte Observer’s College Player of the Year (Western NC). That’s why it was so vexing when he started his career in a 0-13 shooting slump. 55 scoreless minutes was not how anyone imagined his career beginning. He finally broke through at Virginia, but wouldn’t make a field goal in Littlejohn until March 3rd against NC State.

In that game against the Wolfpack, the Tigers offense scuffled. They trailed by 16 (33-49) with just over 4 minutes remaining in the game. With nothing left to lose, they turned to freshman Gabe DeVoe for a spark, and he finally had his breakout moment. DeVoe knocked down six field goals and several free throws in the closing minutes, racking up 18-points and bringing the Tigers back into a semi-competitive contest (they eventually fell 61-66).

DeVoe ended his freshman year with just 2.3 ppg on .268 shooting. He improved in year two and was rewarded with much more playing time. Still, he was a low percentage shooter finishing with 5.3 ppg on .341 shooting. As a junior, he improved again to 7.1 ppg and .379 FG%, but again was an inefficient (97 Ortg) scorer.

The Tigers would lose to Oakland at home in the NIT his junior season. They’d then lose both front court starters. Unsurprisingly, expectations were not high for the team entering DeVoe’s senior season. The Media picked Clemson to finish 13th in the ACC. There was good reason for the pessimism. Both rising seniors - Gabe DeVoe and Donte Grantham - were coming off relatively inefficient years while both Sidy Djitte and Jaron Blossomgame were departed. Several players would have to take a step forward in 2017-18 for the Tigers to even just maintain their level of play.

Nearly forgotten about by a fan base enthralled with consecutive football National Championship battles, Gabe DeVoe eased his way into his final season. He averaged 11.3 points over his first four games before a scoreless 0-7 outing against Clemson’s first quality opponent - Temple. The Tigers would lose that game and expectations for both DeVoe and the Tigers seemed fairly on-point.

That turned when the Tigers headed to Florida to take on the Gators. Clemson had beaten Ohio State, but projections had the Buckeyes in total rebuilding mode while Florida was #22 in the country. Despite trailing by 7 at halftime, the Tigers come back to knock off the Gators. DeVoe’s 19 points were a huge part of the effort, and he didn’t look back. He’d score double-digit points in five of the next six games (he played limited minutes in a blowout against Louisiana) and keeps getting better and better by the game.

After averaging 11.3 ppg in the non-conference portion of the schedule, he elevated his game in ACC play to the tune of 15.8 ppg (13.5 ppg on the season). Since the Notre Dame game when Donte Grantham suffered a knee injury, he has picked up the slack averaging 18.4 points per game leading the Tigers to a 4-1 record during that stretch.

What’s perhaps more impressive is that it’s not merely a matter of getting more opportunities. He has become an efficient scorer, too. With an ORtg of 113, his efficiency matches that of departed star Jaron Blossomgame. His FG% didn’t just inch up again, it leaped forward from .379 to .463. In ACC play, that number is even higher at .478 (65-136). He has made 22 three-pointers in the past four games. His hot shooting cannot sustain at that level, but his career of gradual improvement also seems to be hitting it’s crescendo just as the Tigers enter the stretch of his final collegiate season.

Clemson is 20-4 (9-3) and holds sole possession of second place in the ACC. They are vying for seeding in the NCAA tournament (likely in the #2 - #5 range), an appearance which would be the first in Gabe DeVoe’s career.

Teamed up with the dynamic and clutch wing Marcquise Reed, who leads the team in scoring (15.4 ppg), Tiger guards are leading the best offense of the Brownell era. They’re scoring 115.7 points per 100 possessions (30th nationally), their best mark in offensive efficiency since 2008-09... and their defense is even better ranking 14th nationally.

Clemson has never been better than a #4 seed and has only won an NCAA Tournament opening round game (excluding First Four) four times (including ‘90, which was vacated). This team is on track to be one of the best in school history and Gabe DeVoe is a huge part of it... Thankfully!

He easily could have transferred to a school like UNCG as so many do, but he instead was loyal and patient. and when a big injury meant the team needed him more than ever, he elevated his game to it’s highest point ever. He is one of the staff’s best player development stories and one of the many reason’s this year’s team is so fun to watch.

The book is not yet closed on Gabe’s Clemson career. They have at least seven games remaining, and hopefully several more in an eventful March.

They’re back in action on Wednesday at FSU as they begin their toughest three game stretch of the regular season (at FSU, Duke, at VT). Don’t miss this team. They’re one of the best Clemson has ever put forth and Gabe DeVoe is a big reason why!