Bullock always on the ball for New Media

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Devin Bullock (left) leads the victory celebration with New Media Technology Charter teammates.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Devin Bullock (left) leads the victory celebration with New Media Technology Charter teammates.
Posted: February 13, 2014

EVERY NIGHT, just before he shuts his eyes, Devin Bullock squeezes her tight. And when the morning sun peers through his window near 26th and Master in North Philadelphia - she's still there.

They've been through a lot together; peas in a pod, a love affair for the ages. Her name is Michelle and she has seen him through the darkest of days.

He loves the contours of her body, the smoothness of her touch and that she is always faithful and true.

The 6-0 senior guard for New Media has lived on his own since he was 16 years old. His mother chose a different life. His father wasn't in the picture.

And now that he's 18, he's hoping Michelle - his muse - can help him earn a better life. Yesterday, Bullock (19 points, five assists) hit the game-winning free throw in New Media's 66-65 triumph against Paul Robeson High in the Public League Class A semifinals.

And afterward, all he could talk about was her.

"That's my baby," Bullock said. "I'll be on the phone with other girls and say, 'Look, I have my wife right here! I'm good. I've got my basketball.'

"That's my baby, Michelle. She's always in my hands. Stays with me 24-7. Whether I'm crossing somebody up or shooting; she's always with me everywhere I go."

Well, he had to leave her briefly yesterday in a key fourth-quarter stretch when cramps clinched his calves.

At first, he tried to walk it off but the hitch in his giddyup was noticeable.

"You all right young fella?" an onlooker called out from the stained-glass portion of New Media's gym, which was once a church.

Eventually, Bullock exited stage right and proceeded out of the gym in search of fluids.

Meanwhile, Robeson, which trailed 65-55 with less than 3 minutes left, turned up the pressure with the Jaguars missing their point guard. Maurice Smith finished with 16 points for Robeson (13-10, 8-5).

"I heard their players [cheering] so I knew they were scoring," Bullock said.

Fortunately for New Media (14-4, 12-1), Reuben Mills, the school's chief executive officer, gave Bullock some water and sent him back to the gym where he re-emerged, water bottle in hand, with 48.2 seconds remaining and his team clinging to a 65-62 lead.

"I kept looking around,'' said New Media coach Michael Green, "where's Devin? Where's Devin? And then it was almost like a Superman mirage. I see him coming. I didn't care what he was doing. I said, 'Devin, you have to go back in the game.' "

It was nearly too late. A right-wing three-pointer by Robeson forward Maurice Saunders (eight points) tied the game at 65 and punctuated a 16-5 run rife with New Media turnovers and missed free throws.

"My teammate [Tyquill McFadden, 13 points] was like, 'Why'd you leave me,' " Bullock recalled. "I said, 'Don't worry about it, I'm back.' "

Bullock was fouled on the ensuing possession and went 1-for-2 at the line with 10.2 seconds left. And after Jihaad Fluellen (20 points) missed a desperate fadeaway, New Media had won its second playoff game in school history.

Senior guard John Fieffe contributed 16 points and 13 boards for the Jaguars, who celebrated at center court. Then, during postgame interviews, Bullock was besieged by dap-seeking fans.

"If you know Devin's story - from where he started and where he's at - it's unbelievable," Green said. "This is his sanctuary. He is loved by his teammates, his classmates and the whole school. So it's great to see him go from nothing to [graduation] and have an opportunity to further his education."

Bullock works at Foot Locker in the Cheltenham Mall, where he hustled to a 5-9 p.m. shift following yesterday's heroics. His days consist of varsity practice at 6 a.m., junior-varsity practice (for more court work) then off to school and then work (30-40 hours per week).

He reports interest from Cecil College in Maryland and some community college sniffs. Accounting is his current career objective. He budgets his money for rent and said he receives no financial help from anyone. And now, he's just looking for an opportunity.

"I had to become a man at an early age," he said. "Been on my own since I was 16, so this is my life right here," he said clutching a basketball.

"When a ball is in my hand I just get this feeling. It's just hard to explain. When it touches my hand it's just so smooth . . . that's why I sleep with it.

"I'm just trying to go somewhere to play college basketball. I know there's a team out there somewhere that needs me. That needs a guard that can handle the ball."

On Twitter: @AceCarterDN

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