Sunday, February 21, 2021 | 3:20 PM
Devin Whitlock has a tattoo on his proper arm that claims “Worry None.”
“All of us bleed the identical,” Whitlock mentioned. “Nevertheless it’s like a psychological factor for me. That (phrase) by no means leaves my head. No one is thrashing me. They may me good, however I would like them to indicate me how good they’re.”
The 5-foot-9 junior level guard at Belle Vernon performs basketball with a aggressive aptitude not typically present in gamers his dimension.
“I’m 5-foot-8 — and a half,” Whitlock says from behind his face masks.
However neglect how tall the WPIAL’s reply to Allen Iverson is for a second, and take a look at what he has completed.
Since transferring from Monessen after his freshman 12 months, Whitlock has been a large. He led Belle Vernon to a WPIAL runner-up end and the second spherical of the PIAA event, and now he has the Leopards (10-1) ranked No. 1 in WPIAL Class 4A and No. 3 within the state.
Positive, this workforce is way more than Whitlock, however he’s the conductor of a high-strung workforce that’s averaging 70 factors per recreation.
“He’s not the most important child, however he’s so mentally powerful and robust,” Mt. Nice coach TJ Kravits mentioned. “That’s the epitome of a winner. He isn’t going to let anyone cease him.”
Whitlock, who averages 21 factors and infrequently sprinkles in an array of different stats — 10 rebounds right here, 9 steals or eight assists there — has change into one of the crucial dynamic gamers within the WPIAL.
Watch a Belle Vernon recreation and see when you don’t end up reveling in Whitlock’s efficiency. That flash-bang drive to the rim. That steal and dish. That game-changing effort.
Opposing coaches have referred to him as a “blur” due to his velocity.
“He’s virtually unstoppable when he’s enjoying in area,” Yough coach Jim Nesser mentioned. “He performs a whole 32 minutes, and it’s onerous to gameplan for him. Overlook the X’s and O’s — he’s an old-school playground participant.”
Merely, Whitlock takes maintain of conditions on the ground and owns them.
“I’ve coached lots of good ones, and he’s proper up there,” Belle Vernon coach Joe Salvino mentioned. “He’s such a competitor. He does issues typically, and also you marvel, how did he try this? Folks say how powerful Monessen children are. Effectively, Belle Vernon children don’t again down, both.”
Whitlock, who is also a supremely gifted soccer participant, just lately was honored by Belle Vernon for reaching the 1,000-point milestone for his profession. He hit the mark as a sophomore final season in a WPIAL championship recreation loss to Highlands, and has added to the entire with layups, pull-up jumpers, 3-pointers and, after all, lots of his patented, high-arcing floaters within the lane.
“Not too many make it out of Monessen,” Whitlock mentioned, reflecting on the place he attracts his motivation from and the place he will get his grit. “That encourages me to go tougher. I’ve surrounded myself with the precise individuals who push me to do higher.”
Whitlock, who had 1,276 profession factors heading into Friday — 789 in a season-and-a-half at Belle Vernon — is just not glad.
“Now I would like 2,000,” he mentioned.
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His profession whole (together with his Monessen factors), if acknowledged by Belle Vernon amongst its all-timers, would put him fourth in program historical past behind Vince Graham (2,394), Jacob Dudzinski (1,436) and Matt Rowland (1,407).
“Taking part in with Dev is one thing else,” Leopards junior guard Tyler Kovatch mentioned. “I really like enjoying with the child as a result of he at all times involves the video games able to play. When Dev has the ball, issues undergo my thoughts like, ‘Be prepared, he’s gonna make a play occur. He’s gonna drive. He’s gonna ask for a display. Go get a rebound.’ You gotta be prepared as a result of he likes his no-look passes.”
Whitlock mentioned his most constructive affect is his brother, Vaughn Taylor, who performed one season with him at Monessen.
“Whether or not it was soccer or basketball, I grew up in an space the place you performed soccer in somebody’s yard otherwise you discovered a basketball court docket someplace,” Whitlock mentioned. “My brother was at all times there with me. He helped make me higher.”
As with many standout athletes, sports activities run in his blood. His sister, Nychole, was a gifted basketball participant and a 1,000-point scorer at Monessen. She performed with future Notre Dame guard Charel Allen and received WPIAL and PIAA Class A titles in 2003-04.
His uncle, “Mando” Whitlock, was a gifted scorer within the early Eighties.
Household is essential to Devin Whitlock.
He wears one other tattoo on his arm with a bible verse that reminds him of his late grandmother, Rose. She would have been impressed together with his quick progress.
His mother’s identify, Crissy, is written in ink on the facet of his neck.
“It’s heaven-sent,” Salvino mentioned of Whitlock’s expertise. “Devin is a particular sort of child. I don’t care who he’s enjoying in opposition to or what the competitors is, he’s going to show himself.”
Like Whitlock, Salvino has made a transition to Belle Vernon. Each left emotions for Monessen behind however don’t neglect their roots.
Whitlock mentioned he’s now “Belle Vernon at coronary heart.”
Irrespective of the uniform, college colours or exit off Route 70, Salvino thinks Whitlock is solely a gem of a participant.
“The sport has modified a lot since I began teaching,” mentioned Salvino, who guided Monessen for 37 years earlier than coming to Belle Vernon in 2018. “There was no 3-point line once I began. All the things is so spaced out now and extensive. Devin likes to play that means as a result of he sees the ground so nicely. We don’t run a ton of performs, however we run our offense it doesn’t matter what groups do on protection.”
Belle Vernon is aware of who to place its belief into with a recreation on the road.
“If there’s 10 seconds left in a recreation and we want a bucket, give Dev the ball and everybody get out of the best way,” Kovatch mentioned. “He’s the one you need to go one-on-one with somebody, and you understand he’ll give a present for that final bucket.”
Tags: Belle Vernon
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