Devonte Klines signs with Montana State University to continue his career as a point guard. (Angel Grady/Lariat)
Dressed in his new Montana Bobcat’s hat, black Nike shorts, a black V-neck and grey Jordans’, freshman guard, Devonte Klines ran toward the basket from half-way down the court and slammed a perfect dunk.
On April 13, Klines, 20, signed with Montana State University to continue his basketball career. Though the call he wanted right out of high school didn’t come, he only had to spend one year at Saddleback.
“Devonte came to play for us at Saddleback in August this year and hit the ground running,” said assistant coach Marty Levinson. “His alertness, energy, and toughness are special, combine that with his extreme athleticism, ability to shoot the ball and lock down defense and you have a winning basketball player.”
According to Saddleback, he was instantly in the starting line-up, often called to guard the No. 1 offensive threat on the opposing teams. Klines averaged 7.2 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals-per-game, playing in all 33 contests. He was rewarded with All-Orange Empire Conference Second Team recognition.
Klines started playing basketball at the age of 4, but it was not until a couple of 36 and 40 point games as a sophomore, he started getting more confidence and realized he was good.
“My brother motivated me and trained me to make sure basketball is what I really wanted,” he said. “My brother expects a lot from me, he pushes me to be the best I could be. Everything that I do now, I got it from him.”
The love he began to feel for basketball, he gives credit to Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, his favorite player at the time. He grew up watching Bryant go through all the “hype” and the bad things the media and people would say about him. Klines said that he experienced the same difficulty as he got older.
“It made me want to play more, made me love the game even more,” Klines said. “Cause I watched somebody else go through what I was going through at the time. I watched the end, he got through what he was going through and he was still successful.”
Klines was born in Compton, California where he lived for five years, before moving to Moreno Valley. There he attended Valley View High School for his freshman and sophomore years. Though, he continued to play basketball he was not focused on his grades, fell behind and had to make up nine classes during the summer.
Shortly after making up the courses, Santa Margarita High School discovered his basketball talents and wanted him on their team. He said SMCHS promised if he played for them, he would have a place to stay close to the school a few night during the week and a ride home on the other days, so his mother would not have to make the 55 mile drive each way every day.
Freshman guard Devonte Klines lines up his shot from the free throw line. (Angel Grady/Lariat)
According to Klines, the school offered assistance to him in other ways that were not followed through. His mother, Yvette Klines, said she was left to do more than she expected, so he could play basketball there and better his education.
On top of the issues to keep him at SMCHS, Klines felt he often dealt with racism. The racism came from many angles including some of students, some of staff as well as some of the athletic staff.
Klines felt there was a lot of racism there and he went through a lot. He broke Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors assist record and helped win a title but did not receive his championship ring with his team. He questioned the motives behind this.
He was originally expected to go to Old Dominion University in Virginia, however, for reasons that were unclear Klines’ transcripts were sent in past the deadline resulting in a reclassification for him at Future Prep in Carson, California.
“I wanted to give up, but the type of mom I got, she just stood by me the whole time, that what made me want it even more,” he said. “She just kept preaching to me, ‘you could do it, don’t worry about what everybody else say, just do what you gotta do,’ and I would hear that every day.”
He said he tried to talk to people and make friends in high school, but some of them would give him the cold shoulder, judge him for the way he would act, drink or his appearance. He felt the only time they were excited or friendly towards him was when they won a game because of him.
“It used to get to me, but I learned a lot, so I feel like I can get through anything if I could get through that,” Klines said.
Feeling like he had a lot to prove and nothing to lose, he played with “a chip on my shoulder.”
“That’s why I played so hard this year,” he said. “I wanted to prove everybody wrong and I’m gonna continue to do that.”
Klines practices every day, 300 shots a day and a 1000 on the weekends. He weightlifts, does pool workouts, runs hills, builds his stamina and foot work in the sand. When he’s not playing basketball or practicing, he’s watching it.
“I grew up at Santa Margarita even though I went through a lot,” Klines said. “When I presented projects in class, kids threw paper at me and got away with it. It was multiple stuff I went through, but I thank them, because it made me better.”
At Saddleback he took one for the team and played as a two-guard but at Montana State he will move into his true position as a point guard. He felt that he did not get to showcase his talent at Saddleback, but he understood that his defensive skills were needed.
He received the defensive award every year when he was young. He has always been aggressive on defense, even now.
Though Klines has no complaints about his position on Saddleback’s team, he wished he would have been able to contribute more. However, his coach recognized Klines was not in his regular position and felt he helped the team more in doing so.
“His willingness to sacrifice some of his offensive skills to be our lock down defender was a huge reason why we were so successful,” said head coach Andy Ground. “His defense and his ability to knock down an occasional three was huge for us.”
His favorite NBA team is Oklahoma City Thunder because of Russell Westbrook, he tries to play just like him. He admires Westbrook’s ambition, readiness to play and the energy he brings to the game.
Klines said he has had a great time at Saddleback, playing with the team, “it’s like a family.” He enjoys his government and history classes, but his major is Kinesiology. Despite all the time he dedicates to basketball, he still manages to keep his grades up.
Devonte Klines with Yvette Klines, his mother as he signs with Montana State University. (Angel Grady/Lariat)
“My mom is my biggest motivator, ’cause I watched her go through a lot, she took care of a lot of kids,” said Klines. “She was a big inspiration for me, she made me not want for nothing so I don’t want her to want for nothing as I get older. She stuck by me through a lot of stuff and she’s the reason I’m doing this now, she kept my confidence up, I do everything for my mom.”
He said basketball is a mental thing, when you lose confidence in the mind, there is not a coach that can teach that, a player must be mentally ready.
Devonte Klines received a full scholarship to Montana State, an accomplishment he attributes to the support of Yvette Klines, his mother. His dream is to play for the NBA, but stated that playing professional basketball for an overseas team, would be great.
“I just want to play basketball for the rest of my life,” Klines said.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of the story was posted online, but it was taken down for clarifications. Parts of the story were revised to make clear that the opinions included specifically represent those interviewed, and are not the opinions of the author, the Lariat or Saddleback College.