Updated: Jun 11, 2022
The Hoophall Classic is an elite basketball event series, held at various locations around the country. This year, Hoophall West took place at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona, with the final session capping the week off at Footprint Center, home of the Phoenix Suns. One of the four matchups at Footprint featured Corona Centennial High School (CA), a loaded squad that is coming off a CIF Open Division championship in 2021. Corona Centennial is headlined by one of the best backcourts in the country, the two-headed monster consisting of five-star Jared McCain and the criminally underrated New Mexico commit Donovan Dent.
We spent some time speaking with Dent after their Hoophall win, getting to know more about the player and the person. Dent, who will finish his senior year in 2022 before heading to Albuquerque, is a calm, cool, and collected combo guard who makes a positive impact on both ends of the floor. One of the more efficient players you’ll find, Dent is able to play at a pace more mature than most high school players are capable of. These traits, along with his advanced feel for the game, all project very well to the next level.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Dent discussed his journey to this point, his decision to commit to New Mexico, being underrated, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2022 prospect Donovan Dent, from Corona, California:
Pro Insight: Talk about this event a little bit. Have you played in an NBA arena before?
Donovan Dent: Actually last week in Dallas, we played in the old Mavericks arena, so it was an amazing experience to play on the actual Suns floor. Not many people get to do that, so we wanted to take advantage of it. It was a great atmosphere.
PI: You looked really comfortable out there. Was it tough to adjust to the bigger court, depth perception, lighting, and all that?
DD: What helped me was we actually came here yesterday and this morning. We were here for like three hours practicing and getting shots up, so that really prepared me. On my free throws I felt like I was a little strong, cause of the depth perception, but I adjusted and it all worked out.
PI: So how did it feel playing in an NBA arena? Could you get used to it?
DD: It felt amazing. It was really a dream come true. To be able to do this with my high school team was just wild. Our coach was harping on us to not take this for granted and to truly enjoy it. So we tried to do that. It was really cool.
PI: So backing up a bit, talk about your journey. How did you get to where you are today?
DD: It took awhile, actually. So, starting off at Centennial, I was on freshman [team], and Coach Giles just told me to trust the process and all that. Then my sophomore year, we had a lot of people leave, like D1 guys, so that gave me the opportunity and that really built me up. Then my junior year, that’s when it started to explode a little bit, I started getting recognition and all that. And now I’m committed to New Mexico and it feels great.
PI: For those who may not be familiar, break down your game a bit.
DD: My main skill is probably my ability to get through tight holes and finish at the rim. I have really good vision on the court, finding my big man, Devin [Williams], he’s one of my favorite guys to pass to. He finishes everything. What actually helped me get a lot of minutes at first was defense. So I never go away from that. I love playing defense. And now I’m adding my jump shot into everything, so it’s really coming along.
PI: Watching you, it feels like the game moves slower for you than others. It’s really impressive. Can you speak on that, at all?
DD: A lot of people tell me that. I feel like when I’m playing in the game, I just go with the flow of it. I don’t let myself get pressured out of what I want to do. I play my game at all times. I feel like that’s one of my best abilities.
PI: Why are you so underrated?
DD: [laughs] I don’t really mind it. Maybe because I didn’t get the exposure during my sophomore year and all that, but I don’t mind it. I like being the underdog. It’s kind of helped me and it’s put a chip on my shoulder.
PI: What would you say are your biggest areas of improvement before stepping onto a college floor?
DD: I’ve got to be more comfortable with my jump shot. Like, I’m really comfortable with it now, but I want to get to that next level where I’m shooting it well vs. a contest, with a hand in my face, all that. Once I’m there, I think the sky is the limit.
PI: Who do you model your game after?
DD: I love Ja Morant, personally. Watching him, cause he plays defense, he does exactly what I like. So I’d say him.
PI: Why New Mexico?
DD: Me and my family felt it was the best out of all my offers. It’s underrated, but it’s still a great level. We have a new coach, Coach Pitino, and hopefully we can build off me, Quinton Webb and the rest of our recruiting class. So if we can build off that, it’s going to be great.
PI: What are your goals for your college career?
DD: I want to be an All-Mountain West player. Player of the Year. All-Freshman Team. All that. I just want to be one of the best to leave there. That’s what coach has been telling me. If I stay all four years, I can be one of the best. And then just go from there.
PI: What can Lobos fans expect from Donovan Dent?
DD: It’s gonna be a show, for sure. Me and Quinton, we’re gonna put on a show [smiles].
PI: Where do you see yourself in five years?
DD: In five years, hopefully in the league. If not, I would love to go overseas. I know it’s a great atmosphere and opportunity over there. I just want to be hoopin.
PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?
PI: Why’s that?
DD: It just kind of describes my motto. I worked hard for everything I got and I’m gonna stick with it.