The San Antonio Spurs have always looked to draft high-character guys, and a story by Devin Vassell’s former assistant coach proved this year was no exception.
With their first lottery pick since drafting Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs selected Devin Vassell out of Florida State. The organization hadn’t drafted higher than 18th since getting Tim, so Vassell’s number 11 selection will come with high expectations. If his former assistant coach Charlton Young has anything to say about it, Devin will live up to those expectations and more.
While Leonard Hamilton was Vassell’s head coach, it was Young who recruited Vassell and got him to commit to Florida State before some of the more prominent schools came knocking on the door. As Gina Mitzell detailed in her profile of Vassell for Valley Tales, Young couldn’t hold back his enthusiasm when talking about discovering Vassell from a small high school outside of Suwanee, Georgia.
“I go over and watch the scrimmage, and in six or eight minutes, Devin Vassell did everything you could possibly do in a basketball game,” said Young. “The first possession, he goes down and they shoot a three, and he goes in and tips it in. They come back down, he gets the rebound and he pushes it up the floor and kicks it to the corner. They come back, drive baseline and he blocks it and pins it on the glass. They run back down and they throw it to him, and he rips a two-foot pop, one-handed floater in the paint. They go back down and he gets a back-tip…[then] hits a 3 in the corner. I was like, ‘Hey scrimmage over.’ “
It’s safe to say Charlton saw everything he needed to see in less than 10 minutes of observing, as he was already anxious to give Devin an offer to Florida State on the spot. Young then gives a few examples of why he knew Vassell was a high-character guy right away, starting with how easy he made it to recruit him.
Young began attending Vassell’s games weekly, making contact with his parents on a regular basis. But when someone spotted him and word got out to other schools like Miami, Texas Tech, and Kansas State, he got nervous that his hidden gem might not be so hidden for long.
“I called his momma and I said, I need y’all to commit. He committed. Easiest recruit we ever had,” said Young. “Him and his family, they didn’t come visit [Florida State] until after he was committed. That’s how much he believed in me and the staff. Most guys like him, you offer him and he blows up, talking to Kentucky and Duke. They’re not that kind of people. They’re loyal, good people.”
Devin Vassell’s character will fit the San Antonio Spurs like a glove
Once officially with Florida State, Young debated making Vassell a redshirt freshman to give him a year to bulk up and get his body right. Teammate Trent Forrest and Vassell’s father Andrew both argued that would be doing everybody a disservice, so the coaching staff nixed that idea.
Still, Vassell started the season with five ‘did-not-plays’ and five more games where he played fewer than 10 minutes. As Young explained, it wasn’t just Vassell that had a humble nature; it was the entire circle surrounding him, as he didn’t hear a peep from any of them despite the lack of play.
“Now, his AAU coach ain’t calling me. His high school coach ain’t calling me. His momma ain’t calling me. His daddy ain’t calling me. His brother ain’t calling me. Now, in 2020, that’s virtually impossible with what we’re dealing with in this day and age,” said Young.
Young himself even admits he was more frustrated with the head coach not playing Vassell more than Vassell himself was. “Vassell told me, ‘Don’t worry about it. When [coach] calls my name, I’m gonna be ready,” said Young. And that was it.
After recent situations like that of Kawhi Leonard, whose camp caused his demise in San Antonio, seeing the polar opposite is refreshing.
Vassell ended up getting more minutes once Florida State reached the ACC Tournament, where he made good on his promise that he’d be ready to go. Against Clemson, Vassell slowed down Marcquise Reed, who was unstoppable all season long. After that, he had another big game against Notre Dame before hitting a massive shot against Virginia Tech to send it into overtime.
Devin Vassell and Terance Mann played the heroes for @FSUHoops in their 65-63 win over Virginia Tech! ?
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) March 14, 2019
Vassell went on to be a full-time starter for the Seminoles in 2019-20, averaging 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game.
It’s clear the San Antonio Spurs did their research when it comes to keeping high-class guys in their locker room, and I have a feeling Devin Vassell is going to become a fan favorite very soon.