Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament Feature: No Longer on the Sidelines
Feb. 24, 2010
by Lara Boyko
The second in a series of features leading into the 2010 State Farm Women's Basketball Tournament, Arizona freshman G Davellyn Whyte discusses what it was like to watch her siblings play basketball and playing close to home. Whyte has been an integral part of Arizona's increased improvement and has been a major impact player. Whyte is tied for fourth in the Pac-10 in scoring and is the highest-scoring freshman in the league, averaging nearly 17.0 points per game. She scored a career-high 39 points in the win over Oregon on Jan. 17.
One of the best parts about having an older brother or sister while growing up is the ability to tease them from the sidelines when not being allowed to play with them. Yet for 5-foot-10 freshman guard Davellyn Whyte at Arizona, time spent on the sidelines was put to better use.
'I think I was about five years old when I started playing basketball,' said Whyte, who is from Phoenix, Ariz. 'I have an older brother who played and I would try to play with him. He was too big for me, but year-by-year, I got more experience until I could play with him. When I couldn't play with him, I would just sit on the sidelines and observe.'
This time of careful observation was put to good use as quickly as Whyte was able to get in the game.
'I was on a team of mostly boys who would not pass me the ball,' said Whyte, who was ranked in the top 80 of high school players by the All-Star Girls Report. 'At the end of our season I got an award and all of the boys were livid. They didn't think that girls should be able to play with them. It was like a Most Valuable Player award or Most Improved Athlete.'
From those early days of playing with the boys to today as a member of the University of Arizona women's basketball team, Whyte has continued to excel. Whyte has already made her mark in the Pac-10, ranking No. 3 in scoring and is among the top-15 in the Conference in assists per game.
'I didn't expect it, but at the same time it wasn't shocking to me,' said Whyte of her accomplishments this season. 'The coaches aren't pressuring me to do anything, but I think the game just comes to me. My teammates are good about finding things open for me and setting good screens for me. I am doing well because of my teammates. My points are coming from the combined effort of my teammates helping me get open and the coaches telling me to look for my shot.'
I kind of like the stress of needing to score actually and I am used to it. My last three years of high school, I was expected to find things that I can do on the court. Instead of being a pressure situation, I was encouraged to look for things that would come to me.'
Whyte may take this distinction in stride, but it is something that is making her coach smile about.
'It feels real good right now and it feels even better to know that I have her for three more years,' said University of Arizona coach Niya Butts. 'She is an exceptional player and getting better every day. Her strengths overshadow her weaknesses so much it is unbelievable, especially at such a young age.'
She works hard every single day and every single minute. She is a fighter, continues to grind it out and is the one who is reassuring her teammates. We lean on her a lot to be
the emotional leader and supportive of everyone. She is a big part of our team from an emotional standpoint and scoring standpoint.'
Coming in and having this role on the team is just one of the aspects about the University of Arizona Whyte found attractive during the recruiting process.
'I thought the things the coaches told me were true or saying things that could be true,' said Whyte, who was also recruited by Georgia, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, LSU and in-state rival Arizona State. 'They were straight-forward with me and they told me that coming into the program, I could do great things, but it wasn't going to be easy.'
They didn't guarantee me anything, but they told me that they thought I had the talent to make the best of this opportunity. I think the environment here was also best for me. It is a college town, far enough from home, but if we don't have practice and I have some down time, I can still shoot home and be with my family.'
For Whyte to be a leader on the court may be important for her team, but for Whyte, it is being able to lead in the classroom that is a little bit more important.
'I don't have to work extremely hard with school as I already push myself to do well,' said Whyte. 'I want to be the student-athlete who has great grades,'
She may be a typical wide-eyed freshman who wants to achieve it all in her first year, but there are some aspects in which Whyte is unlike her classmates who have the luxury of being close to home.
'Before basketball started I would go home every other weekend,' said Whyte. 'Since basketball started I haven't been home that much. Instead, my folks come to see me during games.'
I don't take my laundry home to do. My mom asks why I don't bring my dirty clothes home to wash them there and I tell her it's not a big deal for me to do it myself.'
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