After an institutional fuck-up prevented her from playing the sport she loves for 16 games over 43 days, Maori Davenport made her triumphant return to the basketball court on Friday night for Charles Henderson High. Needless to say, everyone in the gym that night was pretty hyped she was back—especially Davenport herself.
This was clearly a shift in the emotions that Davenport must have felt just a couple days ago. After USA Basketball mistakenly sent a stipend check of $857.20, and her family cashed it, the Alabama High School Athletic Association deemed Davenport ineligible for her senior season. Even though her parents returned the money and made USA Basketball aware of the error as soon as they found out, the AHSAA still enforced, and upheld, its ruling based on an absurd policy that high school players can’t earn more than $200 in national team stipends.
However, thanks to an emergency temporary motion from an Alabama civil court, Davenport was able to play Friday and she used the opportunity to ball out. In a 72-17 victory, the Rutgers commit scored 25 points and “had too many rebounds and assists to keep track of,” according to espnW. She needed just 19 seconds to get on the board and her first points were an and-one.
She even got things done on the other side of the ball, with plenty of blocking highlights to go around.
Even though Davenport basically stuck it to the AHSAA with this performance, the highly ranked prospect was still humble in her postgame replies because she was pretty happy just to be back playing basketball.
“It just felt like I belonged there,” she said after the game. “It’s like I left a place and I came back right where I belonged.”
“I knew the city was behind me, but they really showed up and showed out today,” she said after the game. “[The signs] were the coolest thing ever. I never imagined signs for me.
“I will never let myself forget this day. I will tell my grandkids one day about this and the night grandma scored 25 points and had a few rebounds.”