Davon Northcutt. The name itself just conjures up visions of athleticism -- wasn't he a running back for the Buccaneers or was it a guard with the Mavericks? Actually, Northcutt's a 6-foot-4 and still growing 2016 point guard for the San Lorenzo Valley High Cougars, a member of the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League (SCCAL).
The key word here is potential, actually the realization of such. An Honorable Mention honoree this past season in basketball, Northcutt also partiipates in football (900 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2013) as a junior varsity wide receiver, and volleyball, where he was a Second Team All-League selection this past season as a middle hitter.
But it's hoops that comes out on top.
Why? It's the creativity.
"Because there are endless things you can do, like making up new moves. There's a surprise element unlike football where you catch passes and get tackled."
Asked what he does best on the court at this stage, Northcutt replied, "A lot of people tell me I'm good at passing but I want to work on getting people involved and sharing the ball more." Northcutt's already possesses excellent vision and his large-for-the-backcourt size gives him the ability to see over defenders. Plus, his lanky frame with arms that seem to never end provide another valuable asset.
But as a hoops freshman, it was more a matter of survival -- at least early on. He was coming from a middle school team that went undefeated but all that was in the rear view mirror.
"In high school, everything is new and it's a different level of competition. In my mind, I was thinking 'I don't want to mess up.'"
Thankfully, that element has been replaced by a willingness to try new elements in expanding his skills set plus a confidence that the world won't end if something isn't smoothly introduced.
Per Northcutt, "Now, I don't worry so much about my mistakes or how they make me look, because I understand it's a part of improvement and learning."
This spring and summer, Northcutt is playing with the West Valley Basketball Club (WVBC) which will be on display twice in Las Vegas this month as well as once in southern California.
WVBC Coach Al Grigsby, the former Cal great, is enthused with Northcutt's potential. "It took him this spring to realize where he was and he has gotten better in the last two months."
Grigsby continued "Davon is very athletic, very thin but very strong yet new to this environment. The potential is definitely there with a lot of work ahead of him. He's always around the ball, can finish at the basket, has a nice floater, can pass and he has a decent jumpshot. We want him to assert himself more, taking the ball off the rim and making a play downcourt. He's a glue guy who impacts a game without having plays run for him. I see him as a point forward at the next level."
Here's Marcus Northcutt, Davon's father and his coach at San Lorenzxo Valley: "Davon was always told that he was a good player, but felt that maybe that had more to do with the small community in which he played. He wanted to challenge himself and prove that he was good enough to compete in a bigger pool of talent and the opportunity to play with WVBC for Coach [Bobby] Bramlett and Coach Grisgby has given him that. This experience will give him the evidence needed to see if college ball is a possibility."
The young man is participating in the summer open gyms at Santa Cruz High where the best talent in the area congregates, including college players from Cabrillo College and UC Santa Cruz. Northcutt's also well-versed in battling Santa Cruz High guards Kaijae-Yee Stephens and Kiree Hutchings, two of the top players in the league for Santa Cruz High and the returning co-Most Valuable Player and a First Team honoree respectively.
As for Northcutt's junior season as a Cougar, he's expecting a very competitive team. "I think we'll do pretty good. Including me, we'll have two guys who played a lot as sophomores and we really love the game of basketball." Sebastian Vroman-Nell is that running mate and he also received SCCAL Honorable Mention Honors.
The late John Steinbeck said, "What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness." Northcutt will be attempting to flourish in both, laying the groundwork in July for an elevated finish come February.