UPDATE: Davonte Lacy scored 15 points for the Cougars in his return to this side of the state Thursday night.
After a slow shooting start - which was epidemic of the entire WSU offense during stretches of the 67-56 victory over Pepperdine - Lacy hit a pair of 3-pointers early in the second half. He ended up 4-for-9 from the field with three 3-pointers and hit all four of his free throws.
More importantly, he committed no turnovers in 24 minutes of play, and he attacked the basket on at least one drive that prompted a hard foul and applause from the 9,831 people in attendance.
After the game, Lacy reiterated that he's glad to be back home and plans to spend time with his mother in Tacoma.
"I'm a mama's boy," he admitted.
I forgot whether I was supposed to keep that under wraps, but if I wasn't, my bad, DaVonte.
It seemed like a safe bet that former Curtis star would play some meaningful minutes for Washington State at the start of this season.
After all, the Cougars entered the campaign without their face and offensive safety net from the prior year, Klay Thompson, as well their most physical scoring threat inside, DeAngelo Casto. The loss of the duo meant the Cougars would have to score by committee, and someone from a cast of supporting actors would have to play the lead role every game – something Lacy was accustomed to.
But early into the season, injuries hobbled WSU – guards Faisal Aiden and Mike Ladd, in particular. That meant Lacy would have to play more minutes, but he’d also have to serve as the team’s main ball handler for spells at a time. Instead of instinctively driving to the basket or roaming the perimeter, the Vikings’ most prolific scorer last year is now being asked to help his teammates score.
Oh yeah, Lacy has to do all this all while defending an entirely different caliber of athlete than what he faced in high school.
“Man,” he said to Patch this week, “These guys are really athletic. Every time down, anyone can steal the ball and dunk on you. Everybody has a chance to get dunked on.”
“It doesn’t surprise me that I’m asked to do more, it’s just different.”
Welcome to college basketball Mr. Lacy.
But despite being thrust into a pivotal role as a freshman, Lacy appears to be finding his game on the Palouse.
“I can’t wait,” said the man whose arm bears a tattoo that pays tribute to the 253. “I’m excited to go back home.”
Lacy has started five games and is averaging 19 minutes per game through 11 games. More importantly, he’s second on the Cougars in assists (27) and steals (11). He’s also averaging just under nine points a contest, fourth-best on an offense-oriented WSU squad.
In his first game Nov. 5 in Pullman, an 88-41 win against Lewis-Clark State, Lacy led the team in scoring with 21 points in almost as many minutes, giving WSU a glimpse of Lacy’s offensive potential.
But in the games since, Lacy has experienced some growing pains, particularly with sloppy and careless passes. He has committed 19 turnovers, nearly two a game.
WSU Coach Ken Bone told Patch that the injuries to his team’s other floor generals forced him to place Lacy in an unfamiliar role.
“We’re demanding for him to play at a certain level,” Bone said. “He’s trying to play as hard as he can … it’s just going to take time.”
But in the same breath, Bone says he thinks Lacy can be a good guard who can be a pivotal piece of the Cougars’ future.
“He’s got a really good feel for the game.”
For the humble Lacy, his coach’s words are just another sign that he’s in the right place.
He says he often turns to the team’s older players for guidance, both on and off the court. Classes are obviously different than what he experienced at Curtis, but he’s growing into them.
And while the isolation of Pullman can turn many athletes off, Lacy relishes it. He loves the close-knit, community feel of campus, even going so far as to say, “there’s so much here.”
But Lacy does admit that it will be nice to be back home. For those who haven’t seen him since his days at Curtis, you might be surprised by the artwork inked on his arm and back.
After the game against Pepperdine, he plans to spend Christmas with his mom in Tacoma. For the first time this season, he’ll get some downtime to reflect on the first games of his college career.
And while his role at WSU might have changed since his days in high school, Lacy’s outlook hasn’t.
“I’m in a really blessed situation,” he said. “I think about it everyday … I’m always keeping a smile.”