OXFORD, Miss. – In his first-ever collegiate basketball game, Devontae Shuler looked as comfortable as if he’d already played a full season of college basketball for a Division I program.
The Irmo, South Carolina native seemed to understand his role and where to place himself on the court when the basketball was coming his way. Instead of playing conservatively, Shuler was aggressive, attacking the basket each time North Alabama’s defense gave him the opportunity to do so in Ole Miss’ 94-53 exhibition win over the Lions on Sunday.
When he had an open lane to drive to the basket, Shuler dashed into the paint. When he was all alone on the perimeter, teammates Breein Tyree or Markel Crawford looked to send the ball his way for a scoring opportunity—and he made the most of his chances.
Shuler led all scorers with 18 points on 7 of 12 shooting. The 6-foot-2 combo guard also grabbed three rebounds and dished out two assists. He made 4 of the Rebels’ nine 3-point attempts.
Head coach Andy Kennedy has to be pleased with the potential Shuler has to be a legit scoring guard this season.
“…Once he just plays and goes with his instincts, he moves really fast,” Kennedy said of Shuler.
“He has a quick twitch and can make some plays, and that’s just how he is. He is electric.”
Andy Kennedy on Devontae Shuler
The numbers Shuler notched Sunday afternoon are similar to the stats he garnered in his senior year of high school at Oak Hill Academy, where he averaged 15.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 3.7 steals per game.
Shuler will be a solid complimentary piece to fellow guards Terence Davis, Breein Tyree, Markel Crawford, and Deandre Burnett, as they will not have to force shots when a scorer like Shuler joins them on the floor.
Kennedy is used to having talented guards on his roster—players who have a high motor and unbelievable knack for scoring from multiple areas on the court. This is only the beginning of Shuler’s journey to basketball dominance, and it would not be surprising at all to find him, one day, mentioned in the same category as Stefan Moody and Marshall Henderson, two of Ole Miss’ best.
For Shuler, however, it’s all about helping the Rebels win games.
“For me, the main goal is to stay focused and have confidence,” Shuler said.
“Coming in as a freshman, him (Andy Kennedy) putting me in the game means a lot to me.”
Freshman guard Devontae Shuler
On Sunday, Ole Miss was just as impressive on defense as it was on offense, forcing North Alabama into 21 turnovers. The Rebels managed to score 25 points off of those turnovers.
This season, Andy Kennedy has a host of athletic players on the roster who shouldn’t have any issues staying alert on the defensive end. And with the effort there, the Ole Miss offense could have a lot of clear paths to the basket.
“We already have the scoring,” Shuler said. “If we play defense, it will lead to more scoring and help out a lot.”
Ole Miss opens the season Friday against the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns at 7 p.m in The Pavilion.
(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)