Devon Duvall shining for upstart New Oxford
The senior is averaging 21.5 points for New Oxford this season
Sometimes New Oxford senior Devon Duvall can't help but wonder what his basketball career would be like if he went to another school.
Other times he just thinks about how many wins the Colonials would have if they played in a different division.
Duvall is easily one of the best players in Adams County, but has been a part of just 11 wins the past two seasons as the Colonials have struggled in YAIAA Division I play.
“If I went to Delone or Littlestown or really any (Class AA) or (Class A) team, I feel like I’d stand out a lot more,” Duvall said. “But for our team, too. If our team went to Class AA, I feel we could easily go to districts because of how good we are. But in our division, we don’t stand out.”
Duvall is far from bitter, however. In fact, the 6-foot-4 forward has enjoyed this season, even though New Oxford (7-10, 2-6) is in sixth place in its division.
While some of the fun for Duvall has come from being the second-leading scorer in York and Adams counties, more of it has come from playing some of the most competitive basketball of his career. After starting the season 0-6, New Oxford has gone 7-4 and has won six of its last eight.
“For my three years on varsity, this has by far been the most fun season,” Duvall said. “Just because we might not have won everything, we’ve still been in pretty much every game for the most part. That just brings up the intensity of the team knowing that we have to work hard to be in those games. Hopefully in the future we’ll be able to win more of those games.”
The Colonials' improvement this season can be traced to the development of not only Duvall but also players like sophomore John Wessel and junior Ben Lehman. But according to head coach Sean Bair, it's Duvall's willingness to be a team player that makes it all work.
Last season, New Oxford had little senior leadership according to Bair and was forced to rely heavily on Duvall. Although the junior averaged 14 points per game, he often forced shots, and the Colonials finished 4-18.
Now, Duvall has learned to trust his teammates and allow them to take shots when defenses are focused on him. This approach has not only helped his teammates raise their own scoring numbers, it's also helped New Oxford nearly double last season's win total with more than two weeks left in the regular season.
"At times in previous years he forced things a little bit, in part because of a lack of trust in his teammates," Bair said. "His teammates see him make the right play now, it gives them the knowledge and the confidence that he believes in them."
Duvall's ability to trust his teammates has benefited him just as much as it has them. With Wessel averaging 12.4 points per game and Lehman emerging as a 3-point threat, teams have had to focus on more than just Duvall.
His average of 21.5 points per game trails only Spring Grove star Eli Brooks locally. After scoring 349 points combined the last two seasons, Duvall is already at 365 this season.
"He’s way better this year than last year, but it’s not like he was the worst player in the division last year," Bair said. "He could have played for a lot of teams in the division last year, started for a lot of teams. But now that he has guys who can throw it to him, take defenses away from him, it’s allowed his game to blossom.”
Still, scoring doesn't excite Duvall the way it does to grab rebounds and hand out assists. In a league now dominated by mostly guards and wing players, Duvall said he "takes huge pride" in being one of the best big men in the area.
And although Duvall admits it's fun to score over 20 points, he said he'd gladly see his scoring average drop if it helps New Oxford get a few more wins this season.
Duvall plans to play basketball in college, but he's still a long way from picking a school. With the end of his high school career in sight, he said most of his motivation comes from wanting to help his teammates get better.
“If I make them better in practice and in the game, both mentally and physically, it’ll bring them better things in the future," Duvall said. "I’ll definitely take a win over scoring. If I get five or 10 points, but get 10 assists and we win, that’s all that matters. Because the W stands out more than individual stats."