Acker-James hasn’t cut his hair since before Dec. 29.
The junior at Mariposa County High School made a decision that he wouldn’t cut his hair as long as the MCHS boys basketball team kept winning games.
The team’s last loss was on Dec. 29, and since then, the Grizzlies have won 14 straight games.
“That’s why his hair is so ridiculously long and curly,” said his coach, Bob Jaekle.
For Acker-James, something like this isn’t out of the ordinary.
He’s all about the success of the team. And by not cutting his hair, it’s symbolic of the team’s success and togetherness.
So it’s ironic that the curly haired assassin is now the all-time single season scoring leader in the history of MCHS. He has never sought personal glory.
“I never even considered it,” said Acker-James. “It wasn’t a thought in my mind. I thought the record was out of reach.”
Acker-James scored a total of 610 points in 26 games this season, for an average of 23.46 points per game.
He broke the previous scoring record for a season of 600 points, set by Mike Moore in 1990-91.
“I don’t think of it as a personal goal,” Acker-James added. “It’s a team goal. Everyone contributed to this.”
He scored 315 points in Southern League games and averages 26 points per game in those games.
Acker-James now owns the single season point total record, the single season point per game average, the single season league scoring total and the single season league scoring average.
He scores in a variety of ways. One die-hard Grizzly fan calls Acker-James, “Little Curry,” in reference to NBA star Steph Curry, who can shoot from long ranges.
But Acker-James, despite not being a very big player, can take the ball to the hoop and score in transition.
Three games before the end of the regular season, Jaekle approached Acker- James and told him he needed 76 points to break the record.
Piece of cake for Acker- James, although he didn’t set out to break the record. Scoring just comes naturally.
He posted 35 points in the final game of the season, a road victory over Denair. That clinched the scoring title.
Jaekle treasured the performance, in which Acker- James made nine shots from behind the arc.
“There were moments the other night where I had to step back and just revel in how well he plays the game,” Jaekle said.
“I wanted to make sure my focus wasn’t on me scoring,” Acker-James said. “My focus needed to be about being a team.”
The scary part is that Acker- James missed one game midway through the season due to injury, and he has sat out for long stretches of games because the Grizzlies were winning by so many points. He could have scored even more points.
Part of the reason Acker- James has had so much success this season is because his confidence has gone up, now that he is one of the veteran players on the team.
“I was a sophomore last season and it was intimidating approaching the seniors about things,” Acker-James said.
“He leads by example, for sure,” Jaekle added. “In dire situations, he’ll pull everyone together.”
Jaekle chalks up some of the success of Acker-James to his practice habits.
“He’s the sharpest guy in practice,” Jaekle said. “He practices as hard as anybody, even after playing 32 minutes the night before.”
Then there’s also the ability to “see” or “envision” the game, even in the process of playing it. Acker-James can process the game so quickly and make wise choices.
“He understands the game so well, and he makes good decisions,” Jaekle said.
The question was posed to Acker-James whether he could he break his own record next season.
“I don’t want to get that in my head,” Acker- James said. “It’s a team game. It’s okay to have personal goals, but team goals come before personal goals.”
MCHS was set to open the postseason on Wednesday by hosting Aspire Langston Hughes Academy at 7 p.m.
Heading into that do-or-die elimination game, Acker-James isn’t concerned about breaking his own title. He’s more concerned with making sure his hair continues to grow — and based on how strong the Grizzlies have looked this season, it could reach outrageous lengths.
Here is the list of all-time single season scoring leaders at MCHS, along with the amount of games it took to score those points for each player.
1. Devon Acker-James, 610
points, 26 games
2. Michael Moore, 600 points, 27
3. Logan Mankins, 591 points, 27
4. Tim Oswald, 549 points, 29
5. Cody Wichmann, 537 points, 28
Here is a closer look at Devon Acker-James’ scoring total from each game he played this season.
Turlock Christian: 8
Dos Palos: 24
Sierra Ridge: 18
Bret Harte: 17
Trinity Christian: 42
Le Grand: 18
Le Grand: 27