In Eric Devendorf’s senior year at Oak Hill Academy, his team finished with an impressive 34-2 record finishing first in the final top 25 National rankings. Graduating from the same High School as former great Carmelo Anthony as well as many others, why wouldn’t Syracuse and other schools be interested in him. “Oak Hill prepares you the best, because the competition was already at the college level and beyond there,” said Devendorf.
As a result to his great play Devendorf was being heavily recruited by many colleges from the ACC, Big East and the SEC as well as Michigan and Michigan State, his two hometown schools. Though after many weeks days, and hours, Devendorf decided to go to Syracuse. “I chose Syracuse because of Coach Boeheim and also because I was close with Coach Murphy,” said Devendorf.
In his freshman year Devendorf would play in 35 games averaging 12.2 points per game to go with 2.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists a game. Devendorf also contributed well in the game against Georgetown in the Big East Tournament semifinals by scoring a lay-up in the closing seconds to put the Orange up 58-57. They would go onto beat the Hoyas by that score and Devendorf would finish with seven points.
In the Big East Championship against Pittsburgh Devendorf’s four points in the final minute would help lead the Orange over the Panthers to a 65-61 victory, helping them become the new Big East Champions. The Orange did what some called the impossible by winning four games in the Big East Tournament to not only be crowned the champions, but to join the pool of 64.
Eric Devendorf was showing the NCAA and the fans that he could play. As a result he would be named as one of the five players to be selected on Big East All-Rookie team. “Making the team meant that I knew I could compete at this top level of basketball,” said Devendorf.
After another great season as an Orangemen, Devendorf would start his junior season off by averaging 17.0 points and 3.9 assists per game. Devendorf was proving to be one of the NCAA’s top stars. Then on December 15th, 2007 against East Tennessee Devendorf was on fire hitting five three pointers to go with the rest of his 19 points in just the first half with still time to spare.
However when Devendorf was driving to the hoop he would injure his knee in the last minute of the first half. “I knew it was something bad when I heard it pop,” said Devendorf. This was a scary moment for Orange fans as Devendorf would have to go to the locker room to be evaluated. “When I landed there was a lot going through my mind at the time,” said Devendorf. “I just tried to stay positive and get ready for the strenuous rehab each day and get back to where I was at.”
The news would be released that it was an ACL tear and it would force Devendorf to be sidelined for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, because Devendorf already played in 10 games the option of red shirting him, was out of the question. So Devendorf would file for Academic Hardship making his eligibility for his next season still as a junior. “It helped me become more mentally tough and being able to get through all the little things,” said Devendorf talking about being granted Academic Hardship.
The recovery process would now begin for a Devendorf, a process that can take 7-9 months. This was now almost putting the start of his next season at risk. Knowing that Devendorf didn’t waste anytime as he begin his rehabilitation process. “Just rehab everyday and yes it was very hard but I knew mentally, I had to be tough,” said Devendorf. “I was lucky enough to have a great trainer beside me through this long process and a great family.”
After recovering from his ACL tear, Devendorf would return to the lineup scoring 14 points in his first game of the season. Devendorf was back and once again on top of his game. Then news broke about Devendorf being accused of hitting a female student in the face over a disagreement. The Syracuse University’s Judicial Board declared that Devendorf due to violating the Student Code of Conduct by allegedly hitting a female student in the face would be suspended for the remainder of the season. “I didn’t know if I was going to play again, it was an unfortunate situation that obviously I wish I could have taken back,” said Devendorf.
After appealing the suspension the Judicial Board would reduce Devendorf’s punishment making him have to do 40 hours of community service and then after completing all of the hours he would be able to apply for reinstatement. "Eric clearly made a mistake and should be punished. It is his responsibility to fulfill the requirements of this decision,” said Coach Boeheim.
After completing all of the requirements Devendorf would luckily only miss two games in which the Orange would win before he would return to the starting line-up. “I learned from it and moved on and become a better person,” said Devendorf. In his first game back from the suspension Devendorf would play 22 minuets scoring 20 points to go with five assists in a 100-76 victory over Seton Hall.
On March 12th, 2009 The Orange and Devendorf would experience history. After a put back by Kemba Walker to tie the game up at 71 with 1.1 seconds reaming. The Orange heaved a pass to Devendorf which he caught on the right wing of the three point line and then quickly released it. It WAS GOOD! The Madison Square Garden was going crazy, it was UNBELIEVABLE! Though after a replay review it would show that Devendorf’s shot was no good by tenths of a second. “I thought it was good yes,” said Devendorf talking about the shot.
The game would then go into overtime and then another and then another and then finally in the sixth overtime the Orange would pull away winning 127-117. “That game will remain in my mind forever,” said Devendorf. “In my opinion that was the greatest college game ever…just mentally draining, but I loved every minute of it.”
After finishing the season 15.7 points per game Devendorf, with still one year left of eligibility, would declare for the 2009 NBA Draft. “Having a family (two daughters) was my influence to declare for the draft,” said Devendorf.
Unfortunately Devendorf wouldn’t be selected and the decision to go pro didn’t pay off. The question then came up why didn’t Devendorf stay his senior year? “The incident definitely hurt my draft status,” said Devendorf. “I would have most likely been drafted if that wouldn’t have been the case but you live and you learn.”
Sometimes after players aren’t drafted their basketball careers end as for Devendorf he felt that his was just beginning. “I never thought once was my career over,” said Devendorf. “I know what I am capable of as a basketball player and I knew that I would play somewhere and eventually I’ll get that opportunity to play in the NBA.”
After leaving Syracuse and not being selected in the 2009 NBA Draft, Devendorf would sign a contract with the Reno Bighorns an NBDL team. In his debut Devendorf would score two points off of 1-3 shooting to help defeat the Tulsa 66ers 102-87. Devendorf would play in three games scoring 14 total points; he would later be waived from the Bighorns on January 6th, 2010.
On February 8th, 2010 Devendorf would sign a contract with the Waikato Pistons in the New Zealand National Basketball League. In his season debut with the Pistons Devendorf would score 49 points. Devendorf would play in seven games, averaging 24.3 points per game before being released by the Pistons in April due to another off the court incident.
Shortly after the incident Devendorf would suit up again this time playing for the Wellington Saints. In his season debut Devendorf would score 38 points and hit seven threes. Before being released once again Devendorf would play in nine games and average 23.1 points per game.
After leaving the Saints, Devendorf signed a contract with the Melbourne Tigers where he has been playing at since October 15th, 2010. Devendorf his currently averaging 14.6 points per game and is one of Australia’s top players. As far as adapting to the switch in lifestyle it hasn’t been that hard. “The language has been English where I have been,” said Devendorf. “It takes about a week or so to get used to the time change.”
Devendorf also said that the competition level overseas is good and it’s helping him improve on his defense and his game as a whole. As far as the NBA dream goes, “That is definitely still my goal and I believe I will get the chance real soon and when I do I will take full advantage of it,” said Devendorf. “Never quit no matter what.”