In late June, just three weeks after it was announced Devonaire Doutrive would be transferring from the Arizona Wildcats, he was back in the fold, ready to begin year two in Tucson.
“Sorry for the confusion,” he posted on Twitter.
So...what changed in that short period of time?
Doutrive said Tuesday at local media day that a “good conversation” with head coach Sean Miller helped convince him to stay. Miller’s account was a bit different, saying Doutrive had a “long talk with himself.”
“It was no manipulating on our end,” Miller said. “I think he had an opportunity to just think about the future away from here.”
And the more Doutrive thought about it, the more he realized everything he was looking for could already be found at Arizona.
“It really wasn’t, to be honest,” Doutrive said when asked why he initially felt transferring was the right move for him. “I felt like it was best to come back just because it’s a great environment, it’s Arizona, a highly-competitive environment.”
Did it help that incoming freshman Terry Armstrong opted to go pro and Alex Barcello transferred, making it easier for Doutrive to earn playing time on the wing?
Doutrive declined to dive into many specifics about his decision-making process, including the nature of his discussion with Miller, but Miller said in a statement in June that Doutrive was transferring in search of a bigger role.
But if Doutrive was unwilling to work for minutes, it hasn’t shown in workouts so far as he enters his sophomore season—one that should be more fruitful than his freshman campaign when he only averaged 3.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 11 minutes per game.
“Devonaire early on might be our most improved player,” Miller said. “Which makes sense. Devonaire wasn’t highly touted coming out of high school, and he had plenty of other good options, but we’ve had plenty of other incoming recruits that have been higher ranked. But part of that with Devonaire is he’s a late bloomer.
“When he came here, he weighed below 170 and yet he’s 6-5. So he needed time, he needed a year’s worth of practices, he needed to get a sense of what it felt like on and off the court here. He needed more time in our weight room, and you’ll see just physically he’s more mature, he’s bigger, stronger. Even a year ago with as slight as he was, one knack he has is as an offensive rebounder. He could keep the ball alive and that’s a big skill. And I think with Devonaire this year when you talk about perimeter depth, he’s somebody that we’re counting on to really improve from year one to year two.”
Doutrive said he now weighs 182 pounds—a mark that he hopes will make him strong enough to handle the physicality in the Pac-12 but still light enough to maintain his quick first step.
“It seems to be helping me a lot,” Doutrive said.
“He’s shifty,” added Kentucky transfer Jemarl Baker Jr., one of UA’s eight newcomers. “He’s gotten me a couple times in practice.”
Another reason Doutrive failed to become a regular in Arizona’s rotation last year? He made too many mistakes on defense, due to a lack of attention to detail, not uncommon for freshmen.
So while Doutrive has been honing his jumper and playmaking skills this summer—he expects to see time at point guard now that Brandon Williams is out for the year—it’s his improved intangibles that have him primed for more minutes on the wing.
“Just being understanding of how hard it is to practice every day, learn what accountability is,” Miller said. “Being held accountable isn’t a personal attack. Sometimes a young person (is like), ‘wait a second, you mean everything’s important?’ Yes it is. It’s kind of what the world is like. If you get a job and you pick and choose on how hard you work when you get there, you might not last very long. So you learn those types of things in college, and I do believe that Devonaire is way more mature. He’s much more worldly this year. And because of that, he’s an overall better player.”
As Doutrive put it, he now “crosses his T’s and dots his I’s.”
“Just being 10 toes on both offense and defense,” he said.
When Doutrive announced he was returning to Arizona, Miller said nobody—not even the Arizona fans who have come to adore the energy Doutrive plays with—was happier to have him back than his teammates.
Miller noted that is not always the case for a player who once had one foot out the door—and that it “says a lot” about the kind of person Doutrive is.
“I love Devonaire, man. That’s my little brother, man,” said junior forward Ira Lee. “He’s a great player. He was like our human highlight reel last year. He’d come in and have a reverse, he had a buzzer beater against Oregon State. So I’m just happy, and he’s gotten a lot better too. He’s added some muscle. He’s just put his head down and gone 100 percent.”
We caught up with Devonaire Doutrive to talk about why he decided to return to Arizona and what he has improved on since last yearPosted by AZ Desert Swarm on Tuesday, September 24, 2019