Oct. 2, 2000
The most underrated college basketball player in the country began
dialing his mother’s home phone number when his bank account dipped to a
paltry 50 bucks two years ago, but he hung up after tapping only four or
He said that was one of the major crossroads of his life, and he
has felt like a man ever since. He will be listed as a senior in all the
preseason magazines, but don’t believe it. An academic casualty when he
entered college, he will earn that fourth season of eligibility when he
graduates next spring with a degree in sports business.
He has more career assists, 363, than anyone returning to the game
except Brandon Granville, the Southern California point man who has 388.
And, at 5-feet-11, he led his team with 112 defensive rebounds last
“Just trying to get to the ball. I went under people, I’m so
small,” Florida State point guard Delvon Arrington told SportsLine. “I’m
so small, I run under people and steal the rebounds from the big guys.
There is some positive to being small.”
Asked what he feels he does best on the court, Arrington, 22,
sounds as if he should be co-starring with Bruce Willis in a
“I see things,” Arrington said. “I direct people and I pass, that’s
my best quality. I don’t know. I have my brother’s gift of seeing the
court. I learned that from him. I guess it rubbed off, from him to me.”
Arrington was the lone Seminole to start all 29 games last season,
and he played a team-high 32.3 minutes a game.
Being overlooked or under-appreciated is nothing new to Arrington.
At St. Anthony’s High, he was surrounded by elite Division I-bound players
who got the attention. In his three years as a starter, Arrington was 81-1
with three state titles.
Just getting to school challenged Arrington. Older brother Duane,
who played at the University of New Haven, ensured that Delvon didn’t
follow in his footsteps. Hillside (N.J.) High did nothing to promote Duane
on the recruiting trail, and Duane wanted better for Delvon.
That was always the case, anyway, which is why Duane started
dragging Delvon to Central Park in Hillside when he was in the seventh
grade. Duane drilled his brother relentlessly in shooting, dribbling and
defense year-round, Monday through Thursday. Fridays, they rested.
Jersey City isn’t even a dozen miles from Hillside. Via public
transit, though, the trip induces a dozen headaches. Delvon rose early and
rode with his mother, Joan, on the bus to Newark, where she worked as an
executive’s secretary in the New Jersey Transit Authority. He proceeded to
Penn Station, where he took one train to get to another.
At the end of the line, an hour and 45 minutes later, was St.
Anthony’s, four long blocks away. Most nights, he returned home between
9:30 and 10. Game nights? Forget about it. “It was crazy,” Arrington said.
“The total times he was late to high school was less than the
entire rest of the team, combined,” Hurley told SportsLine.com. “It’s
ridiculous how responsible he is.”
Delvon had no idea about the rich legacy at St. Anthony’s, just
across the Hudson River from the World Trade Center. Bobby Hurley played
for his dad there, then went on to Duke to set the NCAA career mark with
1,076 assists. Terry Dehere and others helped give St. Anthony’s national
In his 28 years as the school’s coach, BobHurley said he has had
about four dozen guards receive Division I scholarships.
“I’m glad it went that way, because when I went there I had no
intimidation,” Arrington said. “I went there to play ball, and it worked
out well. I was never shy. Some people could get intimidated when they hear
about all the people who came out of that school, but I didn’t have any of
“And that was another example of having premier athletes around me.
My whole life, I’ve been waiting my turn, and I’ve been successful at the
end. That’s what I’m hoping for here at Florida State. I’ll just stay
within my role and, hopefully, we’ll be successful.”
His teammates called Arrington “Detail,” because he drove them all
crazy with his attentiveness and knowledge. When he took over as the
starter in his sophomore season, St. Anthony’s rattled off a state-record
66-game winning streak.
Arrington also flourished in the classroom, becoming a member of
the National Honor Society and securing a regular spot on the school’s
honor roll. Imagine his shock, then, when he took the SAT half a dozen
times and failed to hit the minimum corresponding requirement to his
grade-point average, once by only 10 points.
He had spurned an offer from Rutgers, because he wanted to get far
away from home to learn and grow on his own. Then, as a partial qualifier,
he couldn’t play his first season as a Seminole. His money reached an
all-time low, but he resisted phoning home.
He took $20 and pinched, buying bread, lunch meat and chips to tide
him over until his nightly meals with teammates in the cafeteria.
“I couldn’t call my mother,” Arrington said. “I felt, when I got
this scholarship, it was to save my mother all her troubles. In the back of
my mind, I wanted to stay away from asking my mom for money. She didher
job, now it’s time for me to do my job as a grown man and live my life.”
And make the Seminoles respectable. Florida State did beat North
Carolina on its own court last season, but leading scorers Ron Hale (15.6
ppg) and Damous Anderson (15.2) are gone. That also makes Arrington (8.9)
the team’s top returning scorer.
New guard Ryan Lowery is expected to relieve Arrington of some of
the pressure at the point, andArrington said he is expecting big things
this season from Southeastern (Iowa) J.C. shooting guard Monte Cummings and
Fayetteville, N.C., swingman Michael Joiner.
Now, if only the rest of the Seminoles can pay as much attention to
detail as Arrington. The team had an ACC-low 352 assists last season, when
it finished in the bottom third of the league at 12-17.
Along with Hale and Anderson, coach Steve Robinson lost all three
of his assistants. A source close to the situation said that was simply
normal attrition, but replacements Rob Wilkes, Stephen Giles and Red
Johnston will probably boost Robinson’s stature with their high school
networking in the Sunshine State.
“They’re great individuals, and coach did that for the good of the
team,” Arrington said. “They’ll make a difference for this program, and I
think we’ll open a lot of eyes this season. You’ll see different things
this year — more wins. We’ll give it our all and compete hard. Me, too.
“I don’t like to talk about myself too much, because I like to let
my actions speak. But if I can make this team better, there’s no stopping
us. We can go a long ways.”
Delvon Arrington has already come a long way.
By Rob Miech