Community, Hoops Go Hand in Hand for Nike Hoop Summit Guard De’Vion Harmon
De’Vion Harmon knows what it is like to be doubted, to be overlooked, and that is just one of the reasons the 18-year-old from Corinth, Texas, has a passion for being a mentor.
“I just love to do things around the community,” said the 6-foot-2 point guard, who helped USA Basketball win both the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup.
“As a person, I like to mentor kids and just spread the knowledge I have. I can learn from them as much as they can learn from me. To be able to help kids that are younger than me or even my age, to be someone they can talk to, I think that part is a lot bigger than basketball.”
That is a huge statement for someone as accomplished as Harmon. He already has committed to the University of Oklahoma and is one of the 12 players chosen to represent the USA in the 22nd annual Nike Hoop Summit on Friday, April 12 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, against high school-aged stars from across the world.
Harmon’s experience with USA Basketball on the worldwide stage has been exemplary. En route to helping win the FIBA U17 World Cup this past summer, he averaged 13.1 points per game — second on the team — to go along with a team-high 3.4 assists per game. Harmon calls his experience with USA Basketball one of the best, if not the best, things he’s done in the sport.
“I’ve been a part of this since my sophomore year,” he said. “Since then, I’ve built a relationship with every person who works at USA Basketball. Winning a gold medal the last two years, back-to-back, has been extremely fun. It’s an experience I won’t ever forget, because I gave it my best.
“As a kid, you dream about doing big things, great things. For me to win two gold medals before my senior year even started, I couldn’t be more blessed and grateful.”
And those experiences may never have come about if someone didn’t believe in him, beginning with his family. Harmon is the son of LaQuita and Terence Harmon, and has a younger brother Terrance, who is nicknamed “Deuce.”
Harmon says their support allowed him to believe in himself, even when success appeared far away. When the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team minicamp rolled around in 2016, Harmon got a surprise call.
“I wasn’t even supposed to be invited,” Harmon said.
Originally, coaches thought he was too young to compete for the team, but Matt Steffe, partner and co-founder of the youth academy D1 Basketball DFW, pointed out that his birth date of Jan. 22 made the cut.
B.J. Johnson, the USA Basketball Men’s National Team assistant director at the time, now the Brooklyn Nets’ coordinator of player evaluation, wasn’t 100 percent sold on Harmon, either.
“He was questioning himself, second guessing it,” Harmon said, “But, he gave me an opportunity. Me taking that as a chip on my shoulder, I ran with it.”
He remembers selection as, “A crazy kind of anxiousness nervousness. My stomach was dancing the whole day, but when coach (Don) Showalter called my name, it was a sigh of relief, but also motivation to keep going.
“People always tell you what you can’t do, but if you stay locked in and believe in yourself and keep working hard, you can do it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.”
Harmon has continued to impress, on the court and off.
“I feel like I can do anything on the basketball court that’s needed,” he said. “I can be the best scorer at my position, the best rebounder at my position, the best defender at my position. I feel like I bring all the intangibles to the table, and I still have things to work on. I’m not perfect. What it all comes down to is competing. I think my competitiveness and competitive spirit are at the top of the charts.”
Those assets drew attention from top programs around the country. At Oklahoma, he will major in broadcast journalism.
“De'Vion is a big-time competitor," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said in the media release that announced Harmon’s signing. “He pushes the ball offensively. He's great at drive-and-kicks, making shots and is an outstanding defender. He brings an attitude of preparing to win. Very unselfish and a great team player.”
Harmon also led his Guyer High School team to the postseason in the Texas high school playoffs four times, including 2018-19, and his aim is to help the team get one more win than last season, when they made it all the way to the 6A state finals.
“I really don’t look at it as pressure or anything like that,” he said. “When we’re playing the right way, playing together as one ball club, one team, we’re really a tough team to beat, a tough team to be in the playoffs against. For the seven of us, this is the last time together. We say, ‘How bad do you want it? Do you want it to end or go on forever?’ And as the point guard, my job is to give us a chance to win every night.”
That’s exactly what he expects to do at the Nike Hoop Summit in April.