Davonte Gaines didn’t lose too many games during his scholastic career at Health Sciences.
What was going through the 2018 first team All-Western New York basketball pick’s mind after losing in his Hargrave Military Academy debut to Oak Hill Academy in a scrimmage?
“That’s when I woke up, knowing the (level) game was different,” Gaines said Wednesday at Health Sciences.
Gaines appears to be a quick study as he learned he has to play aggressively from the start and establish his will.
It’s those lessons and more he expects will aid his development for next year when he’s playing for the University of Tennessee.
The 6-foot-8, 182-pound guard made his verbal commitment official by signing his letter of intent last week to join the Vols. The lad known as "Ticket" held a signing ceremony attended by family, friends and ex-teammates at the high school he helped reach back-to-back state final fours in Class B.
“Signing just gave me a better feeling, knowing that it’s done,” Gaines said. “It’s a great feeling knowing the relationships I’m going to build with players and coaches (at Tennessee).”
Tennessee is coached by Rick Barnes. Rob Lanier, who grew up in Buffalo and served as an assistant at Niagara and St. Bonaventure, is the Vols’ associate coach.
Gaines is a slick 6-8 ball-handler who projects as a point or shooting guard in college. He’s seeing time in both spots with Hargrave, averaging 12.5 points, 6.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds.
He’s getting used to playing against top talents in the country, and that’s the point of him going to Hargrave.
“He’s becoming a better player,” Gaines’ mother Denise said. “I’ve watched a couple games. Already he’s better than what he used to be.”
While Gaines signed his letter, he's not the only 716-area-code talent to make college commitments official during this early NCAA signing period. Among the other many Western New York student-athletes who signed letters of intent is Cardinal O'Hara girls basketball star and reigning Sister Maria Pares Player of the Year Angel Parker (Siena), Orchard Park's Jenna Crean (track and field at Duke) and Lockport boys volleyball's Zach Schneider (Long Beach State).