Privilege never came easily for sophomore guard DaVonte Lacy growing up, but hard work fueled his desire to achieve success on the court and in school.
“I think about the nights when I was hungry and couldn’t go to the fridge because it was empty or when there was nothing to drink except water out the faucet,” Lacy said. “I would see kids with new shoes and other stuff I couldn’t have and it would make me work harder so I could get that stuff later in life and pay for it myself.”
He said he believes all his hard work now will result in the payoff he has longed for.
Lacy, known as “Young Simba,"has quickly made a statement on the WSU men’s basketball team, even though he is only in his second season.
After a standout freshman year in which he played in every game and was named Pac-12 All-Freshman Honorable Mention, Lacy is off to a hot start this season. He has averaged 11.6 points per game, including a career-high 22-point performance against in-state rival Gonzaga.
While growing up, it was when Lacy’s mother braided his hair that he watched and grew fascinated with “The Lion King” and Simba. Soon, he took this interest and developed his childhood nickname “Young Simba.”
Lacy now emulates the mentality of Simba while on the basketball court.
“The demeanor lions have represents who I want to be,” Lacy said. “Whether they’re killing something or just playing around they attack fiercely and relentlessly and I feel like that is what you need to be successful.”
Many young athletes tend to look up to and emulate their favorite professional stars. Lacy personally admires Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks.
“Melo is who I look up to the most," Lacy said. “I like his personality off the court and on the court he scores with ease and in so many different ways.”
Like Carmelo, Lacy doesn’t shy away from the big moments. He said he loves playing in big games and will always remember his go-ahead three pointer to beat the California Golden Bears last season in Pullman.
“It was huge because of the situation I was in,"Lacy said."Coach really has confidence that I can make those shots.”
With WSU as his only offer from a big university, Lacy plans to make the most of it, leave with a degree and continue to play basketball at the next level. He said he plans to play basketball professionally, either in the NBA or overseas, but when his athletic career is finished he has another career he would like to pursue.
“I want to take my degree and become a high school counselor,"Lacy said. “I’ve been in positions where I used a counselor, and I like how kids trust them. You can change someone’s life with just a ten minute session. It’s a great opportunity to give back and help others the way I was helped.”
Lacy said he believes that, with the high talent level in the conference and the close losses the Cougars have suffered this season, this Cougar team has a chance to do great things.
“The team goal is to make the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “We need to pull a couple upsets, beat who we’re supposed to beat and make a deep run in the PAC-12 Tournament, then we’ll have a chance.”
Hopefully with the help of Lacy and others, the Cougars can achieve their goal this year of making it to the big dance, and if Lacy can keep up his strong play, Young Simba is sure to have Cougar fans roaring for the next few years.