Common sense wins: Maori Davenport is free to play

photo courtesy of USA Basketball
photo courtesy of USA Basketball /

Justice prevails.

Maori Davenport being ruled ineligible for her senior year of high school basketball, because of a harmless mistake by USA Basketball, has been appalling from the start.

Now, a court has ruled that Davenport is eligible to play, and she is expected to suit up Friday night.

Davenport, a Rutgers commit, hasn’t been allowed to play with her team since late November because of the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s failure to make an exception to its amateur rule. It’s unfortunate she had to sit out at all—and the AHSAA couldn’t make a decision based on common sense and looking out for its own student-athletes—but the basketball world is rejoicing at the latest update on Davenport’s eligibility.

She’s back. Maori is freed. And the hoops world is celebrating the decision right along side her, her family, high school teammates and coaches. You have to wonder: how much of a difference did it make that some of basketball’s biggest names, and even outside of basketball, were so outspoken about the situation?

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There were a handful of people like Jay Bilas, Mechelle Voepel and Brian Agler who tweeted about it nearly every day, sometimes more than once a day. Bilas talked about it during the games he commentated on. It was a segment in a handful of women’s basketball ESPN-televised games, too. Davenport and her mom had plenty of interactions with local and national media.

Needless to say—nobody was planning to shut up and dribble when it came to Davenport’s unfortunate situation. Sure, the Alabama circuit court ultimately had the final say in letting her play. But let’s not dismiss the power of the basketball community, and the public going above in beyond in vouching on her behalf.

It’s an exciting day for Davenport, no doubt. But all the people who served as her voice over the last month deserve mad props as well.

If there’s any justice, she’ll win a state championship now as well.