Ivory hoping to make impact at Green Bay
By Greg Bates
GREEN BAY – Donovan Ivory is coming back home.
Ivory said he’s hoping to make a major impact on the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay men’s basketball team.
A 2019 Kaukauna High School graduate, he recently transferred from Boise State University to join Coach Will Ryan and the Phoenix.
“I’m excited,” Ivory said. “I’ve been away from home for a couple of years. Getting to play in front of fans in a city close to mine is something I dreamed of as a kid. Getting that opportunity is exciting, and I’m looking forward to it.”
After a successful prep career at Kaukauna, in which he was an integral member of the team that won the WIAA Division 2 state title in 2018, Ivory signed to play at UMass Lowell.
He spent one semester there and played in three games.
Ivory then transferred to Boise State as a walk-on.
He sat out the first semester and played in three games for the Broncos.
“I thought I had earned some (playing) time, but we had a talented team,” Ivory said. “That team did things Boise hadn’t done before, so it’s hard to say I should have been playing because we did great things, but yeah, I think I could have played.”
Entering the transfer portal for the second time in two years, Ivory had interest from schools, including Moberly Area Junior College in Missouri, but Green Bay’s coaching staff was the most active in recruiting him.
“I’ve been to a few different schools, and they were farther from home,” Ivory said. “After talking with Coach Ryan and the staff on a Zoom call, I felt comfortable and confident they believed in me as a player and a person. I felt a good family vibe. The coaches were joking with each other, and it seems friendly, inviting and we’re going to have a good team. It was hard to pass up.”
The Green Bay coaches said they’re fortunate to sign Ivory.
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound guard is a versatile player in the post and on the perimeter.
“We’re excited to get him,” Green Bay assistant coach Jared Swanson said. “We love he’s from close by, and I know he wanted to get closer to home. He’s long, athletic and a good defender. Everyone knows his ability. People I’ve talked to have said, ‘Oh, wow. He was fun to watch in high school.’ I’m excited to work with him this summer. We’re huge on player development, and hopefully, we can take his game to the next level. He should be a key part of our team going forward.”
Ivory said he feels he’ll be a good fit in Green Bay.
“I’m a player who’s going to do everything,” he said. “I can score when needed, but I’ll also get rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and I’m an active on-ball, off-ball defender. There are lots of things I can do. I’m a team player and a high morale player, so I’m going to bring energy to the team, too.”
Swanson said he agrees with Ivory’s assessment.
“He has huge upside, especially with his athletic ability and how he can shoot it,” he said. “He’s developed his shot the last couple of years.”
Ivory can play the 2 and 3 positions as well as the 4, said Swanson.
That flexibility should be valuable in Ryan’s system.
“Being able to play multiple positions opens the door for other guys to step in and different combinations of players to come in,” Ivory said. “That can throw teams off when you’ve got three or four guys who are interchangeable and can play different spots.”
Green Bay sophomore guard Lucas Stieber played against Ivory in high school while at Green Bay Southwest.
Stieber said the Phoenix picked up a player who can immediately make a difference.
“I’m hoping he brings fire and intensity,” he said. “He brings energy and loves to talk. I got that sense playing against him. He can guard multiple positions, rebound and score in transition. I played with him last summer, and his athleticism impressed me.”
Even though Ivory averaged 20.4 points per game in his final high school season, he didn’t necessarily need to be a scorer because the team had other weapons.
“I’m a different player than I was at Kaukauna,” Ivory said. “I’ve expanded what I can do. At Kaukauna, I shot the ball fairly well, but now, I’ve got a more consistent jump shot – my form, how it comes off and the flow is better. I can stretch the floor more than I could in high school. I’m also more athletic.”
Since the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility for all athletes because of lost seasons due to the COCID-19 pandemic, Ivory is sorting out how many years he can play.
He said he’s hoping to play three years at Green Bay.
“That should create chemistry and bonds with my teammates, and that’s going to translate to success on the court,” Ivory said.