Tigers’ Davenport aims for NCAA tourney

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Before the ninth grade, Memphis Tigers forward Kyvon Davenport didn't know anything about basketball.

Not basketball trivia, like who's got the most NBA titles, or where Penny Hardaway went to school. Absolutely nothing.

"I never watched basketball ever," Davenport said. "I still don't to this day. So I had no clue it was anything.  I just knew basketball you just shoot the ball toward the rim. I didn't know how like walk, or dribble, or play defense. None of that."

The only reason Davenport decided to give basketball a try was a reason most teenagers give for making a decision.

"I only played because all my friends were playing," Davenport said.

That's why Davenport's journey to Memphis is remarkable. He quickly went from a junior varsity player who could barely dribble the ball, to an All-State power forward for East Hall High School in Georgia.

Davenport then spent two seasons at Georgia Highlands College.

By his sophomore season, he became a dominant stretch forward, on the way to winning conference player of the year, and landing on the National Junior College Athletic Association first-team All-American list.

That's when Memphis head basketball coach Tubby Smith took notice and went to watch Davenport in person.

While Smith knew him, Davenport had no idea who the hall of fame coach was.

"They were like, 'do you know who that is,'" Davenport said. "Then everybody's posting it like 'that's Tubby, he's a hall of fame coach. He's this and that.' I was like, 'oh.' So I just looked him up and then I finally saw he is a hall of fame coach, and he's been to a lot of schools and had a lot of success."

That ended up being the deciding factor for Davenport.

With offers from Memphis, Ole Miss and a list of mid-majors, Davenport chose the Tigers because of Smith's record for success.

"I felt like he could develop me and I'm gonna get way better here," Davenport said. "To where I can move on and play somewhere else for money."

Before that day comes, however, Davenport said his only goal is to help lead the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament.

It's something he's obviously never witnessed as a player, or as a fan.

"I've never been and never really watched it either," Davenport said. "So I don't know how great it is, but I've heard people talk about it all the time. I wanna be there. I wanna be there one day. So people can talk about our team and how we're gonna win it."

It's a lofty goal for a kid who's only been playing the sport for six years, but based on his track record, it's hard to count Davenport out.

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