As the thousands of students and alumni stormed the court and celebrated No. 20 North Carolina State’s upset victory over No. 1 Duke in Raleigh, N.C. on Saturday, many across the nation also enjoyed a widely-hated Blue Devils team’s loss. However, there was one person, in particular, who may have found the Wolfpack’s accomplishment a little disheartening: Old Dominion senior forward DeShawn Painter.
Painter, a 6-9, 235 pound forward, spent three years at North Carolina State before transferring to Old Dominion in the summer. Last season, Painter averaged 6.2 points and 4.3 rebounds in 20.0 minutes per game for NC State. Appearing in 37 contests, Painter started seven games for the ACC power.
As a member of the Wolfpack in 2011-2012, Painter averaged the sixth most minutes of any player on the team, appearing in many games as the team’s sixth man. Painter also hit a game-winning shot against Princeton last year and he scored nine points in North Carolina State’s NCAA Tournament victory over San Diego State in March. Painter was a large reason the Wolfpack made it to the Sweet 16 in that tourney as well.
Following the Big Dance, many in Raleigh expected Painter to be a large contributor for N.C. State this year, perhaps as a starter in the front court, on a team that had plenty of high expectations. But, unfortunately, life hardly ever goes as planned.
A native of Norfolk, Virginia, Painter’s family resides within several miles of the Monarchs’ Ted Constant Convocation Center on campus. And, in order to be closer to that family, especially his ailing great-grandmother, Painter decided to come back home, and finish his collegiate career where his relatives are just a short car ride away.
When the news of his transfer became public, Painter’s eligibility to play was uncertain. However, at the time, the big man only cared about his loved ones.
“My focal point is my family,” Painter told the Daily Press. “Me being eligible right away is out of my control. What I can control is being there for my family.”
The NCAA later approved Painter’s transfer waiver, making him eligible for the entire 2012-2013 season.
Returning home, Painter expected to be the leader of a talented, young and energetic ODU squad in their final season in the Colonial Athletic Association. In the preseason, media members of the CAA were confident in picking the Monarchs to finish fourth in the conference. But, things haven’t been so hot down in Norfolk as youth has proved to rear it’s ugly head.
Through their first 16 games of the regular season, the Monarchs are 2-14 and 0-4 in CAA play. While the team has been unsuccessful, Painter is having a very good statistical year. In 26.6 minutes, Painter is averaging 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game. Unfortunately for head coach Blaine Taylor, Painter’s success has been overshadowed by 15 team turnovers per game, immaturity late in contests and lack of discipline at times on the court.
But, for Painter, he’s thanking God, instead of cursing him, for the opportunity to be close to his family. And, he’s not at all regretful of his decision to leave Raleigh.
“It’s been a blessing,” Painter told HamptonRoads.com of his great-grandmother. “I’ve been fortunate, and that’s why I thank God every day.”
For most 22-year old college seniors, a chance at fame and national recognition might be enough to tempt him or her away from family. However, Painter is not you’re typical college senior.
“I know there’s more to life here than just where I came from,” Painter says.
Thus, as people are still relishing NC State’s upset victory, Top-25 national ranking, and promising season that looks like it won’t end until late-March, Painter is apart of that nationwide celebration.
And, most importantly, he is celebrating with his family.
Jake Fischer is the CAA Correspondent for Rant Sports-NCAA Basketball. Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter @JakeLFischer.