Former Orange basketball star Eric Devendorf recently chatted with us about playing abroad, Syracuse’s Final Four run, the six-overtime win over UConn and what he did to help during the water crisis in Flint, Mich.
Eric Devendorf, who played for the Syracuse Orange from 2005-09 and averaged 14.5 points per contest during his time on-campus, has had a very interesting professional career since leaving school. We caught up with him this week to talk about what his life has been like the past few years.
The Spun: Tell us what you’re up to these days. We saw that you were playing ball over in New Zealand earlier in the year. What’s that like and what have you been doing since?
Eric Devendorf: Well, New Zealand is beautiful. It’s probably one of my favorite countries that I’ve been to. So I got home from being over there in the beginning of June. Since then I’ve just been working out and staying in shape. Right now I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to stay home with my family and work on my coaching career or go back overseas.
The Spun: We saw you played for Boeheim’s Army again in The Basketball Tournament this past summer. What was it like to play with some of the guys you played with in college? Was it weird or cool?
ED: Oh man, it’s the best. I said it the first time we played, it was the most fun two weeks I’ve had playing basketball. It’s great getting back playing with the guys I used to play with. The guys who played before me, too. We all know each other. We all keep in touch. Besides playing with them, it’s just good to be around them. It’s a fun environment being around those guys.
The Spun: Has Jim Boeheim ever weighed in on the fact that you guys named your team after him?
ED: Oh yeah, we went to him for permission. He’s definitely a big part in it. He’s definitely supported us during the few years that we’ve played. It’s good to have his support.
The Spun: You returned to school back in 2015 to finish up your degree. What made you want to go back?
ED: For my long-term career. Knowing that basketball isn’t going to be forever. I have two daughters, ages 8 and 6 and they’re getting older so being able to be here for them is a pretty big thing. To have that degree and to secure my long-term for myself and for my family. It was pretty big to come back and I’m glad I did that. I had Coach Boeheim’s support up there too.
The Spun: When you left Syracuse, you still had a year of eligibility remaining. Do you ever regret leaving early or is it something that you think wound up being for the best?
ED: At that time, I figured that was what was best for me. I’d had my first daughter by then, so it was nice to be able to go and make some money. You know now, looking back on it, I probably would have stayed and finished it out. But you know, like I said, at that time, that was the decision that I felt was right for me. Now that I’ve matured I can look back and say I learned from it. I’ve learned from a lot of stuff that I’ve done. I’m pretty happy with where I’m at. I have more options with that degree, so I can think about doing some other things besides playing.
The Spun: What do you think your proudest moment was during your time at Syracuse?
ED: Probably my freshman year when we won the Big East Championship. That was one of my proudest moments. Especially winning it on that stage against those types of teams. I’ve had some great moments individually and team-wise but I’d probably pick that one out because it involved winning a championship.
The Spun: Looking back at your buzzer-beater-that-wasn’t against UConn in the 2009 Big East Tournament, do you wish that it had counted? Or do you like it better that Syracuse is the winner of the six-overtime game over UConn?
ED: I’m definitely glad that it went the way it did. If it had counted, it wouldn’t have set up the historic six-overtime game that everyone is still talking about and will continue to talk about forever. People ask me about that every day when they see me. People come up to me and ask me about that game specifically. I’m definitely happy with the way it worked out and I’m just happy to be part of it.
The Spun: Switching topics a little bit, you’re a Michigan guy. We saw that you got involved helping out during the Flint water crisis. Can you tell me a little about what you did there?
ED: Yeah so I have a buddy back home in Flint, Michigan and he was interesting in doing a game to try to help donate water, raise money and raise awareness. So he reached out to me. I reached out to the people I could get to help. It raised a lot of awareness. We wound up getting on ESPN to talk about it. Justin Forsett of the Baltimore Ravens was on there as well. We were able to raise around $10,000 in the charity game we held. It was at Flint Hamady High School. We raised a lot of money for water filters and bottled water and things like that. It was just awesome to be a part of it. It’s still going on now in Flint. Same situation. We’re doing the best we can to help those people out.
The Spun: Let’s talk about the current Syracuse team. What’d you think of the team’s Final Four run last year? Did you see it coming or did it surprise you like it surprised everyone else?
ED: You know what? I’ve been around those guys and I know them pretty well. I’m with them in the summertime – all the new guys, every year. I know how good they are. It didn’t really surprise me. I was happy to see it, because I know how hard those guys work. They earned it, definitely, and they proved a lot of people wrong. I’m a biased guy anyway. I was happy for those guys to be able to get to that level.
The Spun: What do you think about the team’s chances this coming year?
ED: Oh man, they’re deep. It’s our deepest squad in a while. They have a talented roster and they can play a lot of guys. It’s going to be fun to watch. I think they’re going to be one of the top teams in the country and definitely contend for a national championship. I think they’ll definitely make a run and be one of the top teams throughout the season.
The Spun: Jim Boeheim is walking away soon. Do you think it’s going to be something that he’ll be easily able to do?
ED: I know coach loves the game. I know that if you’re someone who loves the game as much as he does, it’s hard to walk away from it. This is what he’s been doing for his whole life. I think people who really know and love the game understand what he’s going through. If he decides to step away, that’s his choice. He’s a Hall-of-Famer and I think he’s earned the right to do what he wants to do.