SFA adds one more piece for next year's run at a NCAA Tournament birth

SFA adds one more piece for next year's run at a NCAA Tournament birth
Source: SFA Athletics

From SFA Athletics

Wednesday afternoon, Stephen F. Austin men's basketball coach Kyle Keller announced the signing of graduate transfer Davonte Fitzgerald to the 'Jacks' roster for the 2018-19 campaign. Fitzgerald, a 6'8 forward who calls Atlanta, Ga., home, possesses one year of eligibility after making stops at a pair of other NCAA Division I institutions before agreeing to head to Nacogdoches.

"I'm excited about joining the Lumberjack family and being a part of SFA basketball this upcoming season," stated Fitzgerald. "I cannot wait to get to Nacogdoches this summer and get to work with my teammates in preparation for the 2018-19 season."

Fitzgerald's ties with Keller can be traced back to the latter's tenure at Texas A&M where SFA's current head coach recruited the three-star forward out of Tucker High School. Following a two-year run as a reserve in College Station, Fitzgerald headed north to Minnesota where he suited up for a single season (2017-18) for Richard Pitino's Gophers.

"Not very often can you recruit and sign a player twice in your career, but today is one of those special days for me," remarked Keller. "It is so exciting to bring Davonte into our program. I have watched him grow from a young man to a special adult and he will give us great veteran leadership and an explosive scoring punch."

Davonte Fitzgerald | 6-8 | 220 | F | Atlanta, Ga. | Tucker HS/Texas A&M/Minnesota
Through his 31 games in a Minnesota uniform, Fitzgerald averaged 3.7 points and 2.4 rebounds per game for the Gophers who posted a 15-17 record after being ranked as high as twelfth in the nation in the early stages of the campaign. In 412 total minutes, Fitzgerald connected on 39.8-percent of his field goals and 34.1-percent of his three-point field goals

In all, Fitzgerald posted four double-digit scoring outings while in a Gophers uniform with his best performance of the season coming in a Big Ten setback at Iowa in which the senior put in 16 points on the strength of a 4-for-4 showing from three-point land. In addition to his scoring, Fitzgerald added six rebounds, three assists and three blocks.

2017-18 marked a comeback season for Fitzgerald who spent his previous two seasons in Minneapolis sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules and recovering from a knee injury that caused the forward to miss the entire 2016-17 campaign.

The forward transferred to Minnesota after spending the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons under head coach Billy Kennedy and staff at Texas A&M. As a freshman, the team's eventual Unsung Hero Award winner showed flashes of brilliance, most notably after earning the title of SEC Freshman of the Week on Jan. 20, 2014 after putting in an average of 16.5 points while shooting almost 60-percent from the field in SEC confrontations with South Carolina and Mississippi State. Against the latter, he put in a career-best 20 points.

All told, Fitzgerald averaged 7.3 points and 2.3 rebounds per game in College Station during the 2013-14 season, but a knee injury suffered in an SEC game against LSU on February 12 caused him to miss the final 10 games of the season. Fitzgerald recovered to play in 25 games through his sophomore year where he averaged 3.5 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.

What they're saying about Fitzgerald
Richard Pitino | Head Coach | Minnesota | "I'm extremely pleased that Davonte will have a chance to continue his career at Stephen F. Austin. Both on the court and off it, he was a terrific student-athlete for our team and I have no doubt he will continue to be at SFA."

Kyle Keller | Head Coach | SFA | "Davonte is currently enrolled in graduate school so his off-court dedication is top notch. He has overcome so much adversity from a physical standpoint and I know now he is prepared to give SFA fans what he is capable of day in and day out in terms of basketball. He is one of the most mentally tough guys I have ever been around. Davonte is just the right fit to add to our ball club as we continue to compete for championships."