Eric Devendorf lived a little over an hour away from the Michigan State campus during his high school years. Devendorf was one of the best players in Michigan and in the country in the 2005 recruiting cycle. He committed early to the Spartans, and there was no reason to think that would change. That was until he attended a Michigan State home game on February 23, 2003.
Devendorf spent many weekends on the Michigan State campus, hanging around the basketball facilities. He would often make that hour plus drive to workout around the team and play pickup games in their practice facility. So being on campus or in the crowd for a home game was not an abnormal event.
But this game was different. This game saw 15th ranked Syracuse coming to East Lansing, with two freshmen superstars in Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara. The game itself was extremely entertaining. Anthony scored 25 points, Chris Hill had a career high 34 points including 10 made three pointers, there were 12 lead changes, and Michigan State missed three potential game winners in the final seconds as the Orange won 76-75.
While Syracuse escaped with a victory on the court, the beginning of one off of it was taking place in the stands. Devendorf was in attendance that day and the style of play from the visitors caught his eye.
"It was the style of play and the tempo," Devendorf said. "The freedom the guards played with, getting out in transition. That's what I do. That fits my game. I called my AAU coach and told him we needed to find out what was going on with Syracuse."
From there, Devendorf called coach Izzo and informed him that he was reopening his recruitment. Shortly thereafter, Syracuse came to watch him play and extended a scholarship offer. Devendorf would taken official visit to Central New York and eventually committed to and signed with the Orange.
Even before he committed to Michigan State, it was another out of state school that caught Devendorf's eye.
"It was Florida and Billy Donovan," Devendorf said. "I just loved their style of play. I thought I'd fit in really well. But the guy who was recruiting me, he left or got demoted or something so it didn't work out. But I definitely liked them a lot and I thought about committing there. When the coach who was recruiting me, when that happened, it kind of ended that. It all ended up working out."
Devendorf averaged 14.5 points, 3.2 assists, 1.2 steals and shot 37.8% from three point range during four years at Syracuse. He was involved in some iconic Syracuse games including the 2006 Big East Tournament Championship run, the six overtime game and many others. Orange fans have always loved the attitude and confidence he played with.
As Devendorf transitioned into coaching, Syracuse fans continued to show support. He has spent time on the Syracuse staff as well as the Detroit-Marcy staff. Eric is now back in Central New York where he gives back to the community. During the pandemic, he organized the CNY Small Business Give-Back where he raised tens of thousands of dollars to help local small businesses.
Devendorf is also organizing a youth basketball camp in August. You can get all of the details HERE.