Kobe Bryant. Long Beach City college basketball coaches Gary Anderson and Barry Barnes. The Matadors salute you.
To Deon Tresvant, the Matador’s leading scorer, Bryant is an example to follow and an inspiration; a reason to believe he can do anything with a basketball. However, Anderson and Barnes might be responsible for him even bouncing one nowadays.
Brian Mount / Staff Photographer
“When Deon came in, he was really down. He felt like quitting basketball. He thought no one had given him a chance to prove he could play,” said Anderson, Tresvant’s former head coach. “We took him in and thought he’d be a good player, but we never envisioned how truly amazing he’d turn out to be. We didn’t know what we had in him.”
Tresvant was born on Nov. 21, 1985 in Compton, Calif. to Gwendolyn and Donald Tresvant. His father introduced him to the game of basketball early in his childhood by taking him to local recreation center courts and having him watch. He played basketball at Cabrillo High School before becoming a standout player for Long Beach City College. He transferred to Northridge, where his ability to “get hot” at the right time earned him the nickname “microwave.” He’s been instrumental in all of the Matadors’ numerous come-from-behind victories this season and their 13-4 start.
“When he gets going, he can really heat it up offensively and go for a long stretch and do some good things,” said head coach Bobby Braswell. “When we recruited him, we knew what his abilities were. We felt our system was perfect for him because we give our guys the freedom to play a little bit.”
Tresvant picked up his first basketball at the young age of four and never put it down. He began playing in park leagues under the watchful eye of his father, another one of his inspirations, and the supportive voice of his mother. He went on to play for Narbonne High School and Cabrillo. Surprisingly, he was just an unassuming bench player.
“I wasn’t really the best player, I didn’t play that much. I was just a regular person,” said Tresvant, referring to his playing days in high school. “In that process I think it made me a much better basketball player to just observe the game and learn.”
He did a lot more observing after graduating, however. Tresvant enrolled at L.A. Harbor College the following year but didn’t get to play much. The six-foot guard said he felt that he wasn’t given a chance by Seahawks’ head coach, Tony Carter-Loza, something that eventually led Tresvant to leave the team. Tresvant also considered quitting basketball all together.
?”There was no room on that team. I didn’t play. (Carter-Loza) didn’t give me an opportunity to show my game,” said Tresvant. “After that, I told my father I was done with basketball.”
But his father wouldn’t let him quit. The man, whom Tresvant said has yet to miss one of his games, helped him work on his game without taking any days off. Shortly after, Tresvant enrolled at Long Beach City College and made the squad. He did not immediately play, but when he did, it was as if he had been reborn. He scored 63 points in a game. That’s believed to be a state junior college record.
“That day was crazy. The game before, I had 48 (points), and before that, I had 39,” said Tresvant with a smile, remembering his freakish outburst. “The papers came to talk to me and I actually told them that?I might score 40 points the next game, and I had the 48.”
Thus, Tresvant’s skills aren’t just limited to basketball; he also might be able to foretell the future.
“And after the 48 (points), they came again and I told them I was feeling so good that I might just score 60 points, and I went out and got 63.”
However, the part-time psychic said that his sweetest sports moment might have taken place the game before, when he poured 48 points on his old team, L.A. Harbor. Tresvant saluted his old coach, the one who didn’t play him, with a huge slice of “what-could-have-been” cake.
“He kind of had an ego problem. Every game I would get double-teamed, but he wanted to show me that he didn’t need to double me, that I was just a regular player,” said Tresvant, recalling the game. “They had the game won. They were up by three points. But he let me get the ball.”
Following act, Tresvant hit a game tying three-pointer that sent the game into overtime.
“His ego got in front of him that day, and during overtime I kind of looked at him, and he knew that I was telling him, ‘yeah, I’m about to take over the game.’ And I did, and we won.”
His heroics made him a coveted prospect and he received scholarship offers from USC, Oregon State, Washington State and others. He accepted Northridge’s proposal, however, to stay close to home and his son, Deon Jr. The 22-year-old credited his two-year-old first-born for his performances.
“(Deon Jr.) has a lot to do with me wanting to be the best player I can possibly be,” said the junior. “When he comes to my games and he’s watching, I gotta be on my best behavior because I want to set a perfect example for him. It makes me play hard. I want to give it my all for my son.”
It’s no wonder Tresvant wants to be that kind of man for his son. He acknowledged that having the father he had is one of the main reasons for the unconditional father-love he’s developed. Tresvant’s father, Donald, was “the perfect father,” in Deon’s words. Donald is also proud of his son.
“A lot of people put him down because he was a small kid. They told him he couldn’t do it,” said Mr. Tresvant. “And he just kept working hard at it. I’m very proud of him. I always knew he could do it. I’m proud of what he’s doing because he did it himself.”
A small kid from Long Beach who didn’t even start for his high school team and almost quit basketball is now helping the Matadors pull off a season for the ages. It’s hard to believe.
“People didn’t even know who I was, man,” finalized Tresvant.
Now they do.