By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Four years after being on the first Digicel Jumpstart Program basketball squad to New York, D’Moi Hodge has committed to play basketball for Cleveland State, ending pursuit from a number of suitors including Coastal Carolina, who had a recruiter come to the territory and met his family, with hopes of landing the talented player.
Hodge said it’s because of Coach Dennis Gates, he committed to Cleveland State and will sign his letter of intent during the November signing period.
“Really and truly, it’s because of the coach, I like the vibes and everybody was nice,” noted Hodge who visited the school last weekend—where he’ll join another BVI player Franklyn Penn, who signed in August. “It’s just a good vibe at the school. Coach Gates was an assistant at Florida State for 18 years and had been recruiting me from in February because he saw me playing,” Hodge explained. “We had a relationship from before.”
Besides Coastal Carolina, Eastern Kentucky, Florida Gulf Coast, Illinois State and Bethune-Cookman were among a number of schools seeking his services.
Hodge participated in the 2015 Digicel Jumpstart Program and along with Malachi Payne, earned a trip to New York for a camp with players from other Caribbean Digicel markets.
“It helped me to understand that there’s talent all over,” he reflected. “You really have to work to get better. Everyone has talent, but you have to do something different than others.”
Hodge described the opportunity to play on the same team with Penn, as being ‘magical.’
“We played together on Tortola for a couple years, we know how each other play and we know how to play with each other,” he said. “It’s not like we’re getting introduced to each other—we’re accustomed to playing with each other so it’s just boot, a help to them because we’re accustomed to having fun with each other.”
Penn said it feels great to have Hodge joining him in the backcourt at Cleveland State.
“The head coach is trying to turn the program around and he’s trying to get some Dogs in the backcourt, so me and D’Moi in the backcourt, it’s going to be like a scary sight,” Penn said. “It’s gonna be really blessed to have him on the backcourt with me, because we’re both from the BVI and that basically never happened where both of the top players in the British Virgin Islands, attending the same Division I College. It’s gonna be great and we’re gonna have a great time. We’re gonna make sure we put on for the city and support the islands.”
Hodge who will join the team during the 2020-21 season and is looking to help his State College of Florida team do something great this year and starts in preseason in Orlando, Florida this weekend, advises any player desirous of following in his footsteps, to keep working and never give up.
“Even when you’re put in a tough situation, that doesn’t mean you’re not going to make it,” he said. “God would never put you in a situation you can’t handle. Everything happens for a reason. So, even if you get put in a bad situation, it happens for a reason but keep going and pushing yourself forward.”