FORT WAYNE – It was Devan Downey who, in the waning seconds of a glorious moment, unashamedly urged South Carolinas fans to storm their home court after the Gamecocks 68-62 upset of No. 1 Kentucky.
And when those seconds finally passed and history was made and, indeed, the eager mob poured onto the floor, Downey defiantly screamed at the top of his lungs, I told you so!
Two years later, hes essentially still yelling the same thing with a little less fanfare.
Amid the gloom of a 31-point loss to Springfield on Sunday, the 5-foot-9 Mad Ants guard was the lone bright spot, scoring a team-high 20 points and handing out nine assists in what was one of the more forgettable games in franchise history.
The Ants have lost all five games he has played in since joining the team Feb. 2. Fort Wayne has a chance to end the streak at 7 tonight when the team plays host to Erie.
Downey has averaged 11 points a game. Not bad for a 5-9 rookie.
Youve got to work that much harder because of the way youre viewed in stature, Downey said. Definitely, theres always something to prove.
Coming up, youre too little to succeed on the high school level. OK, I did that. College, theyre going to expose you. I was three-time all-league, so I did that. Now its all about proving it on the professional level. This is kind of the last step.
And from within, hes still screaming, I told you so!
He screamed it in high school, when he scored 67 points in one game and was South Carolinas Mr. Basketball in 2005.
After one season at the University of Cincinnati, where he averaged nearly 12 points, he went home to play with the Gamecocks, where he averaged 18.4 points as a sophomore, 19.8 as a junior and 22.5 as a senior – all three years being named to the All-SEC team.
The night South Carolina beat Kentucky, Downey dropped 30 on the Wildcats and their freshman point guard, John Wall. Three days earlier he had 36 against Florida. Four days later, he had 33 against Georgia.
When the NBA didnt want him, Downey went to Turkey for a season. And when he figured out he didnt want Turkey, he came back to the States and waited for a call.
Because point guard Tory Jackson went down with a sprained ankle, the Ants called Downey.
A lot of teams see his size and they dont want to take a chance on him, Ants coach Steve Gansey said. We did our homework on him, and hes fitting in pretty well right now.