Basketball

“Mr. Versatile” Donovan Gregory shines for App State basketball – The Appalachian

“Mr. Versatile” Donovan Gregory shines for App State basketball – The Appalachian

Hiatt Ellis

Junior forward Donovan Gregory throws a free throw in a 72-57 win over Little Rock on January 29, 2022.

Anyone who has attended an App State men’s basketball game this year has noticed the number 11. The six-to-five-year-old recreation management major has been playing the game since he was just three years old, and l forward has become an essential part of the App State men’s basketball team. .

Donovan Gregory’s family and coaches have led him to continued success on the court. His parents, who also played basketball, gave him unwavering support in good and bad times. Gregory noted that his coaches and family members motivated him, in part by telling him “things that I don’t always want to hear.”

Gregory named Byron Dinkins, who coached Gregory for three years of his high school career at Northside Christian Academy and Carmel Christian High School, as someone who influenced his progression as a player. Dinkins is now Director of Player Development at Charlotte, a position he still holds.

“Just my freshman year, he always believed in me and told me how good I could be,” Gregory said. “He was like a mentor to me.”

Coming out of high school, Gregory held scholarship offers from five schools, including App State, while also being listed as a three-star recruit. Schools like Charlotte and future Sun Belt Conference contender Old Dominion were among other offers. Gregory listed a few reasons for choosing App State over other schools.

Junior forward Donovan Gregory lands a two-handed dunk against Troy on Feb. 17, 2022. (Travis Holshouser)

“It was very close to my house, you know. College, you generally want to go somewhere where you can trust the coaching staff,” Gregory said. “I just felt like I could trust the coaches here, and that ended up working in my favor.”

Head coach Dustin Kerns takes pride in player development. He pointed out that not only has Gregory improved in each of his three seasons on the pitch, but he has also shown great character off the pitch.

“Donovan has improved every season. Another big kid from a big family,” Kerns said. “So when you have people of character in your program, good things are going to happen to them. They’re going to improve because they want to be trained. They buy what you do.

Gregory played a key role in the 2020-21 season for the Mountaineers, leading the team in rebounds for the season. Those rebounds played a key role last March, when App State won four games in four straight days to clinch its first-ever Sun Belt Championshipas well as their first place finish in the NCAA Tournament since 2000.

Gregory grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds in the conference semifinal against Coastal Carolina and then grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds in the championship game against Georgia State. Gregory credited the team and its underdog mentality for the unlikely run at the conference title.

“We entered the tournament as the six seeds, so we were already the underdogs in almost every game. But the hardest thing to do is to win the first game, so after that I think it just gave us confidence to keep going,” Gregory said. “We were playing really good basketball and we were so together as a team. That’s what helped us win all those games.

With the tournament victory, App State clinched its ticket to the school’s first NCAA tournament in over two decades. For Gregory, achieving the feat didn’t come into play until the Mountaineers’ first and possibly only game of the tournament against Norfolk State.

“I don’t even think it really hit me until you get to it and then, boom, you play, and it’s like, ‘Woah, I’m really here,'” Gregory said. “You just have to enjoy moments like these, make the most of them because it’s something you’ll remember forever.”