When Devin Velott was cut from the Mountain View boys basketball program just over a year ago, he was devastated.
At first, he didn’t want to stick with the sport he loved, but after support and uplifting positivity from teammates, he became determined to work his way back onto the team.
That’s why Tuesday night carried extra weight for the senior. Velott scored a game-high — and career-high — 20 points in the Thunder’s 79-50 3A Greater St. Helens League opener win over Fort Vancouver, a night that at one point seemed implausible for the soft-spoken forward.
For Velott, the road back into the lineup was long and, at times, daunting. But with the support of his teammates, he kept his head up and never complained, according to Mountain View coach JC Alexander.
“Tremendous person and super high character,” Alexander said of Velott. “He sucked it up, did what we asked … he was just always there. Weights, open gym, fall training … he was at everything.”
Velott played in one varsity game his freshman year (he scored five points) because of an injury, then made five appearances as a sophomore, before spending the rest of the season on JV.
Coming into his junior season, he was coming off an injured patella tendon and IT band, which limited his fitness and confidence in his knee on the court.
After he was cut, Velott went to Alexander and asked what he could do to get a second chance. Alexander let him practice with the JV — an opportunity he leapt at. But that meant going up against the varsity team nearly every day, which rebuilt his confidence. Enough so, that Velott was convinced he could contribute to the team.
“I tried again this year and got the spot,” he said. He had 11 points in a season-opening win over Hockinson.
Mountain View led Fort Vancouver by 12 at halftime, and extended the lead in the third quarter. Velott scored 12 of the team’s 21 points in the third. The Thunder stretched its lead to as many as 30.
Alexander credited Velott’s contributions this season to his work ethic and attitude. As a coach, he said one or two players truly commit to making a leap in their game.
“It feels really good,” Velott said. “It shows anything is possible if you just work at it. I’m just happy.”
Mountain View improves to 4-4 on the season, while Fort Vancouver drops to 0-7 (0-1 3A GSHL). Kaden Horn added 19 points and Makai Anderson chipped in 12 for the Thunder. Senior James Husband Jr. led the Trappers with 14 points, and freshman Kahlil Singleton added 10.
The Thunder admit they had struggled with the full-court press throughout much of the season so far, but found success and hit shots when Fort presented it on Tuesday night. They hit 10 3s as a team, which Alexander pointed to a direct result of the team emphasizing shooting in practice.
When it came to Velott’s performance, Alexander echoed a similar sentiment, calling it the “fruits of his labor.”
“Showed up and worked and then busted his ass in the offseason to prove he deserved a spot,” Alexander said.
MOUNTAIN VIEW 79, FORT VANCOUVER 50
FORT VANCOUVER — Vincent Bennett 4, James Husband Jr. 14, Keyontae Cage 2, Ezekial Block 0, Kahlil Singleton 10, Tre Cannon 6, Sergio Hunt 6, Justin Vernon 3, Tyrique Cargile 4, Myron Lawrence 0, Pepper Stokes 0, Damian Garcia 1. Totals 18 (1) 13-25 50.
MOUNTAIN VIEW (4-4, 1-0 3A GSHL): — Makai Anderson 12, Austin Lee 8, Trevor Binder 2, Mason Wulf 0, Jordan Cook 3, Ethan Blanchard 6, Sam Frosh 5, Eba Abu 0, Devin Velott 20, Kaden Horn 19, Rodolfo Montiel 4. Totals 31 (10) 7-8 79.
Fort 12 13 9 16—50
Mt. View 18 19 21 21—79