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Who is James Madison Getting in Devon Savage?

Gaining insight into what the Dukes' commit will bring to the CAA in 2021.

Point Guard Eyes, Tyler McKittrick - August,15 2020

Fresh off of his recent commitment to James Madison University, now is as good of a time as any to take a dive into the skillset that Riverdale Baptist Wing Devon Savage will bring to the CAA in 2021.  I really enjoyed watching Savage compete this past season, and look forward to seeing him grow and refine his game this coming year.

Standing at roughly 6’5” and equipped with an athletic build, expect the hard working Savage to wear his hard hat everyday and contribute on both ends of the floor as a true “3-and-D” candidate for the Dukes. Although he has limited explosiveness, he plays with strength, a solid IQ, and a lot of confidence. Crucially, he has strong endurance, often playing the whole game while putting out on both sides of the ball.  He consistently competes and steps up to challenges as they present themselves. 

Photo credit: The Sentinel Newspapers

Playing in the notorious Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) as a sophomore and then in the always-talented Capital Beltway Conference with Riverdale Baptist, who also plays a challenging non-conference schedule, Savage is battle tested.  He should have no problem adjusting to the night-in, night-out competition at the next level.  With a preference for going left, he likes to seek out contact and is adept at drawing the foul.  He also mixes in a diverse set of floaters, exhibiting a developing touch in the painted area.  Savage still has room to improve in the use of his body.  He has a tendency to try to force the contact, leaving him a bit off-balance on the attempt.  In transition, he fills the lane and runs the floor well.  He takes good angles at the basket as the finisher and, again, utilizes his body to get to the line for 3-point play opportunities.  Savage capitalizes on his ability to draw contact and get to the line by shooting a good percentage, and is reliable down the stretch of close games. 

James Madison will also be getting a much improved, often streaky outside shooter.  He has grown in confidence and consistency from 3-point distance, capable of shooting from beyond the college line off the catch or bounce.  His short memory is evidence of that confidence, believing in the notion that the next one will drop.  For instance, he started one game 0-for-7 from behind the arc through 3 quarters.  In the 4th, with his team struggling to score, he suddenly drained 4 straight threes to keep them in the game.  That is the type of player this kid is.  Mentally tough.  A competitor who not only looks to put the ball in the basket, but also plays to win.  

The majority of Savage’s shot attempts come from 3 or in the paint, but he also possesses a nice one or two dribble pull-up game that he could utilize more often.  While he is not the type of player to create a ton of space for himself off the dribble, his 3-ball commands enough respect to keep the defender honest.  This allows him to get to his spots, such as the middle of the key, and elevate for the shot from 17 feet.  He continues to appear increasingly comfortable shooting the 3, and his potential as an off-the-ball shooter is promising.  I can see him carving out a niche as a catch and shooter who fills the lane and defends multiple positions. 

On the whole, he possesses a solid base of fundamentals and plays with that air of intelligence Washington, DC area players are known for.  His floor game has developed nicely over the last couple of years, improving as a playmaker and chipping in as a reliable rebounder who is not afraid to put a body on his man.  His dribbling skills have improved, and he is capable of handling the ball in the open court with his eyes, ready to make the right decision.  He makes the right pass and puts zip on the ball when he locates shooters.  He will benefit from continuing to tighten up his ball control, adding wiggle to his dribble moves, and staying low with the ball. 

Defensively, he is a solid on-ball defender who plays with his feet and active hands.  His size and length drive his versatility.  He can cause issues for smaller guards, match up with either wing, and take on him bigger defenders in switching situations.  Off the ball, he is alert and engaged; and, although he tends to stand straight up-and-down, he gives consistent help side to his teammates.  Overall, he takes the defense seriously and has a good grasp on team defense concepts.  His potential on this side of the ball is very encouraging, and should prove to be a valuable asset at the next level.

Savage promises to contribute value in multiple areas of the game, and could find a comfortable role as a “3-and-D” player.  I will be keeping an eye on his shooting percentages, as well as the development of his overall skillset during his senior year.

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