Sweet 16: Devon Saddler, Delaware

(US Presswire )
October 18, 2012|By Matt Bracken | The Baltimore Sun

There’s a good chance you would have run into Devon Saddler this summer if you wandered into the Bob Carpenter Center most days at 6 a.m. If you came back at 11 a.m., the Aberdeen grad would likely still have been on the court at Delaware’s basketball facility.

If you strolled back into the Blue Hens’ arena between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m., it’s probable that you would have encountered Saddler again. What better way to end a summer day – which also included weight lifting and class – than four more hours in the gym?

“I stayed on campus the whole [summer],” Saddler said. “We have 24-hour access to the gym up here. I’ve just been staying on the campus, trying to be around positive people all summer.”

A summer vacation devoid of relaxation might not sound appealing to most people, but Saddler isn’t your typical college student. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound junior is faced with the tall order of improving upon a sophomore year in which he led the Blue Hens in scoring and was selected to the All-Colonial Athletic Association second team.

With that in mind, Saddler spent the vast majority of his offseason “in the gym.”

“I didn’t really expect the year I had last year, but I had confidence in myself,” he said. “Once I know [my shot is] falling, I just knew. I need to keep shooting to try and keep my teammates involved.”

Saddler expected to have opponents more focused on him as a sophomore thanks to his status as the reigning CAA Rookie of the Year. Sure enough, double-teams came right away, in addition to more physical treatment from other players when he was off the ball.

But even though Saddler said he “knew they were coming for me,” most of the time it didn’t matter. The Blue Hens’ star shooting guard put up 18.8 points per game, shooting 39 percent from the field. Saddler was the CAA’s second-leading scorer and ranked 27th among all Division I players.

During a season filled with double-figure performances, one in particular stands out.

"The game here vs. Drexel, I felt like I could just do anything,” said Saddler, who scored 30 points on 10-for-16 shooting against the Dragons. “That’s our rival. We don’t really like each other. The feeling like that is a good feeling for me. At home, UD vs. Drexel, all our fans screaming. That’s a game I felt like I took over.”

It didn’t take long for Saddler to start regularly drawing the ire of student sections in opposing gyms throughout the CAA. Whether it was at Drexel, George Mason, Northeastern or somewhere else entirely, Saddler could feel the crowd turn against him.

“If I get an and-1, I like to scream, beat my chest,” he said. “It’s nothing personal. I’m not showboating. That’s just my game. I think they don’t really like that. They think I’m showing them up a little bit. … That’s just how I play basketball. I’m not going to stop for no one.”

It’s reasonable for Saddler to expect more of that during the 2012-13 season. He’s even more of a household name around the CAA now considering his selection to the preseason all-conference team, and earning top player honors from MidMajorMadness.com.

Those accolades are what keeps him motivated heading into his junior season. Saddler hopes those summer mornings, days and nights working on his ball-handling, shooting and strength will pay off for the Blue Hens, who finished 18-14 (12-6 CAA) one year ago.

“I think I’m going to step it up even more by getting everybody in the gym,” Saddler said. “I’ve been staying after it, being a leader and being vocal. I can step up some more on that. … We’re not looking ahead, but it’s looking good for us. Take it one game at a time. We’re really focused on right now. I think we got a good chance. It’s looking real good to start to jell together.”




The Sweet 16 is an occasional series profiling the best Division I college basketball players from the Baltimore area. Players were selected based on prior accomplishments and projections for the upcoming season.

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