Davantae Kimble signs with GNTC

On hand to watch Davantae Kimble (seated, center) sign with the Georgia Northwestern Bobcats were Laporsha and Rufus Kimble. Bobcats’ head coach David Stephenson, Rozario Slack, Ringgold head coach Greg Elkins, Ringgold assistant coach Brad Gray and Ringgold assistant coach Clay Tyree. (Messenger photo/Scott Herpst)

In this day and age of seeing players' offensive highlights dominate the television airwaves and streamed non-stop on social media, Davantae Kimble is something of a basketball throwback.

Sure, the Ringgold senior can play a little offense - he scored nearly nine points a game for the Tigers this past season. But when asked about the best part of his game, he didn't hesitate to offer up an answer.

"Hands down, it has to be my defense," he said. "You don't have to be talented to play defense. You just have to want to play defense and that's something I learned here at Ringgold."

Kimble will be bringing that defensive mindset to Rossville next season when he suits up for the Georgia Northwestern Bobcats. The Tigers' 5-foot-11 guard made his decision official with a recent signing ceremony at the high school.

"Kids that want to play defense is something you rarely get anymore," Bobcats' head coach David Stephenson said. "He's got long arms, he can play defense and he doesn't try to do things he knows he can't do. I can see him really helping us on the press and stuff like that.

"We've talked to several kids here (at Ringgold) over the years, so I hope (his signing) will open a door for us here and build on what has always been a good relationship with Ringgold High School."

Kimble said he has played the game since he was eight years old, honing his shot on the outdoor grass with his father.

"I'm just a hard worker," said the soft-spoken Kimble. "I didn't even make the basketball team as a sixth, seventh or eighth grader and I didn't even play my freshman year. But my sophomore year, I really started to progress as a player to where I am now, so (signing day) means a lot to me."

Kimble transferred to Ringgold from just across the Tennessee state line at East Hamilton High School following his freshman year and Tigers' head coach Greg Elkins said it took a while for his new player to get accustomed to playing at a new school.

"He played on the JV team for a year, but ever since then, he has worked tirelessly on his game and spent a lot of time in the gym," Elkins said. "He's a great, great kid and I can't say that enough. He'll do exactly what you ask him to do."

While Kimble became a solid player and starter for the Tigers, he also had to adjust to an unfamiliar role of team leader this past season after the team's other senior opted to leave the program in the middle of the year.

"We went through a little bit of rough spell (after that)," Elkins recalled. "But (Davantae) came to me directly and asked me, "what can I do to lead this team and help this team? That wasn't exactly in his comfort zone because he's not a vocal kind of guy, but he's a great teammate and he just wanted what was best for team.

"That showed a tremendous amount of maturity on his part and, from them on, he really stepped up his game on the offensive end too. He was still a great defensive player and he became a physical and vocal leader by example. I think that will help him tremendously in college."

Kimble said the adjustment to becoming a team leader took some getting used to.

"It was kind of awkward at first because I had always been used to being below other people and having them telling me what do to," he explained. "It was a big step for me having to step up and teach the freshmen and sophomores, but it was pretty cool and a good experience."

He said one of the reasons he chose Georgia Northwestern was the people he has known who have gone there previously.

"I like Georgia Northwestern because I have a lot of friends that graduated and went on to (school) there," he said. "Some of them are people I grew up with and played (basketball) with, so it means a lot to be able to go there."

Kimble said he would like to study physical or occupational therapy or get a business degree or perhaps do both while attending Georgia Northwestern.