The Mississippi College Men’s Basketball Team has gotten out to its best start since rejoining the GSC in 2014. A big reason for that is junior transfer Donovan Ham, who came from Georgia Highlands College. Before that, Ham played at Texas Tech. Ham averages 14.6 points per game, 5.9 rebounds, and 3 assists for the Choctaws this season.
Coach Lofton believes that Ham’s size, athleticism and basketball IQ make him stand out. “The biggest thing that he brings that we haven’t had here is size. He has got some length and is a good athlete. He can do a lot of things. He is a good ball handler, and he really gets into the lane and sets up our other players. We haven’t had that in the past and I think that is the biggest difference in our team this year compared to past years,” Lofton says.
Ham has great basketball pedigree in his family. Donovan’s father Darvin Ham played eight seasons in the NBA, won a championship with the Detroit Pistons, and is currently an assistant for the Atlanta Hawks. Donovan’s older brother, Darvin Jr., played at Northwest University, and his younger brother is currently playing high school basketball.
Lofton knows Donovan is going to play well each and every night because that is how he was raised. “His dad was an NBA player and is an NBA coach, so he gets that from his genes. What we have to do is play better around him, because I know he is going to play well for us,” Lofton says.
A big perk about having an NBA father is that you are always around NBA players. Ham notices a major difference in the mindset of NBA players. “NBA players have a different mindset. They are definitely more mature, and they just get it. It is a different type of mindset that they have. The players understand the game, the spots, how they need to score, and the execution and preparation. The game is totally different from college,” Ham said.
“The role is the biggest thing. If you are a shooter you have to prepare before the game and get your shots up, or if you are a defender you have to come out with the intensity to defend. I always think about what I need to do before the game, and how I can execute and help the team win,” said Ham.
Ham’s teammate Junior Davy Fisher sees that focus and preparation in Donovan. “Donovan is an all-around good guy. He works harder than a lot of our players. He is not very outspoken, but you know he is taking it seriously and he wants the best for the team,” said Fisher.
“What I respect about him the most is how seriously he takes his practice outside of our team practice. The best thing I think Donovan does is take game shots at game speed. He does that over and over again,” Fisher said.
The biggest thing that Ham got out of being around NBA players and watching his dad play was that he got to fully understand the game of basketball. “Growing up I always used to watch him play, and seeing him coach has definitely given me a lot of wisdom in basketball. My basketball IQ — I am always seeing things before others do, and I see things that others don’t. I just understand the game both in offensive sets and defensive sets,” Ham said.
With several key players out for the rest of the season for the Choctaws, the team is going to need Ham to have the mamba mentality more than ever. “He is frustrated right now that our team lost some of our size and that has hurt us. He is trying to do a lot to try to carry us. He has to and we need him to. For us to have a chance to win, we have to have great production from him, and he has to score the basketball. He also guards the opposing team’s best player, and he does a great job at that,” said Lofton.
At the beginning of the season Ham did not see himself as a leader on the team, but as the season has progressed and Ham has gotten more comfortable at Mississippi College, he has become one of the leaders of the team. “At first I really did not see myself as a leader because we had three seniors, but as of now I see myself as a leader because people follow what you do, and always look at your body language. If you have a positive body language, then you could uplift your teammates and everyone is going to play just as good as you” said Ham.
Ham wants to play professionally when he has done his career at Mississippi College, but as of right now, he just wants to win. “I just want to win, and play as good as possible and help the team win. After that, if I am successful, hopefully I can play professionally, but as of right now, I am just focused on this season,” said Ham.
Ham says his family is what continues to push him forward. “My family is my motivation. I feel like I just have to be successful. My dad was successful; my older brother was successful; and my little brother is successful, too. So we have a successful family,” Ham said.
The Choctaws will play rival Delta State on Saturday, Jan. 27. Come out to support our Choctaws!