The NBA consists of 450 roster spots, 30 teams, 15 players (max) on each team, 12 players on the active roster and a regular rotation that usually consists of seven to nine players. Needless to say, with NBA-hopefuls in the world and amount of spots, making an NBA roster is quite the accomplishment.
For individuals like current Portland Trailblazers Point Guard Jonny Flynn (originally drafted by Minnesota with the sixth overall pick in 2009), hearing your name called on draft night is a dream come true, but for his fellow Syracuse teammate Eric Devendorf, not having his name called was his dream destroyed. However, the story doesn’t end there.
Devendorf is best known for his hard-nosed, trashing talking style of play at Syracuse University in the 2005 through 2009 seasons, including the famous six-overtime win (Final score 127-117) against the Connecticut Huskies on March, 12th 2009. In his four seasons playing under Hall of Fame Coach Jim Boheim, Devendorf averaged 14.5 points, 3.2 assists and 2.4 rebounds with a 38% 3-point shooting percentage.
A few months following the draft on December 26th, 2009, Devendorf signed with the Reno Bighorns D League team, but was waived only 12 days later in January. A month after being waived, Devendorf signed with the Waikato Pistons of the New Zealand National Basketball League and scored 49 points an impressing season debut.
Just two months later in April, Devendorf was again released, but soon found a home with the National Basketball League (NBL) Wellington Saints as the starting Point Guard, and averaged 23.1 points per game over the course of the season.
For the 2010-2011 season, Devendorf bounced around globe, splitting his time playing in Australia and Turkey before finally coming back to the D League for the 2011-2012 season, signing with the Idaho Stampede before being traded back to the Reno Bighorns this past February. Devendorf struggled at first in his second stint with the Bighorns, but over the last seven games has really come on strong, averaging 21.9 points per game, including a season best 26 points in a loss to the Los Angeles D-Fenders last Wednesday April 4th, 2012.
“It’s all about opportunities in this league, the coaches these past games have given me the opportunity to go out and show what I can do and I think I’ve been a pretty good job,” says Devendorf. “It’s definitely about getting to the next level and getting better opportunities whether it’s here or overseas… Whatever opens up, I’ll be prepared to go.” With the Bighorns season coming to an end, Devendorf is determined to someday achieve a NBA contract. He plans to go play again overseas possibly in Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic before trying to get onto a NBA Summer League roster this July and has already decided he will not be playing in the D League next season.
“I don’t really think I’m going to do the d league thing next year… I got a family to support… It’s not the highest paying job in the D League so hopefully I can get something else going on.”
Devendorf is faced with a common struggle for most D League players. Either play in the D League and hope for an NBA team to call while being paid just enough to “get by” or move overseas where they pay more, but you can’t see your family consistently and NBA scouts are less likely to notice you. With two daughters and a girlfriend in Syracuse to support, Devendorf will have to make some sacrifices to make.
It’s one thing to say, “I’ll do whatever it takes to achieve my dreams”. It’s another thing entirely to mean what you say and actually do it. When you’re young you dream big, but as you grow up, you realize you have to give up some dreams to start new ones and other priorities like family and money come into play.
For some people to realize their dreams, others have to fail… One player’s injury is another player’s opportunity… One teams championship win and their dreams coming true is another teams’ shortfall and their dreams crushed.
Maybe not everyone can achieve all their dreams, but for dream driven basketball journey-men’s like Eric Devendorf, that doesn’t mean you don’t make some sacrifices, keep trying and hope for the best.