MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Turns out mother knew best, and on the biggest stage of his life, Donte' Grantham heeded mom's advice.
With 11 seconds remaining and Martinsburg up 55-52 on Woodrow Wilson in the Class AAA state championship game on March 16, Grantham was fouled. He nearly sprinted to the other side of the floor and toed the foul line.
"When we watch games, my mom always tells me, 'This guy is going to make these free throws,' " Grantham said. "She said when a guy runs to the foul line, or sees a guy run out of a timeout to find the man he's guarding on defense, he is going to succeed because he's confident and ready to go.
"So when I was fouled, I wanted to get the foul line. I just knew I was going to make those free throws."
He knocked both down and clinched the state title for Martinsburg. It was fitting that Grantham was at the line, finishing off the Bulldog's 26-2 state championship season with the final points of his career. The 6-foot-7 Grantham finished with 20 points and 17 rebounds in the state championship victory.
Grantham was the best player on the state's best team and finished the season being named the Evans Award winner as the state's top basketball player by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
"Donte' is well deserving," Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers said. "He picked this team up and carried it the last seven games and refused to let us lose. He did what he was supposed to do. We've had a lot of great players over the years, and Donte' is right up there with the best."
In a program renowned for great players, Grantham is the first player to score 1,000 points and grab more than 500 rebounds. He finished with 1,067 points and topped 600 career rebounds.
He is just the second Martinsburg player to win the Evans Award, joining current assistant coach Marsalis Basey in the elite group. Basey went on to star at West Virginia.
"He deserved it," Basey said. "He was dominant. There were times during the season where I thought maybe he wasn't playing as well as he could. When he had to step up, he did it. That's the mark of a winner."
For the season, Grantham averaged 18.3 points and 9.1 rebounds. He also had 54 steals, 44 assists, 46 blocked shots and 33 3-pointers.
Grantham was a point guard early in his career, before a growth spurt from the summer before his freshman year to his junior year saw him shoot up from 5-9 to 6-7.
"Being a point guard all those years really helped my game develop," Grantham said. "Guards have to make good decisions. You have to be able to pass, handle the ball.
"I've always had the mentality that a pass is as good as a basket. A great pass can get a crowd hyped. If [teammate Jalen Lewis] makes a good no-look pass to me for an easy basket, well then, the pass was as good as the basket. It was the pass that led to the points."
"That's the thing that made Donte' such a great player," said Basey, who was a point guard at Martinsburg. "He thought like a point guard at times. He often gets the ball and leads the break. He can step out and hit the 3. What a weapon that was, because other teams' bigs had a hard time matching up with him because of his skill set."
Grantham will now move on to the next level.
He has been contacted by West Virginia, Villanova, Cincinnati, Georgetown, Maryland, Nebraska, Clemson, Wake Forest, Xavier and Temple. Clemson offered Grantham after seeing him play one time.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins saw him play in Martinsburg in December and again in the state championship game. Assistant Ron Everhart was at several games this season.
George Washington's Luke Eddy, who beat Martinsburg in the 2012 Class AAA semifinals with a 3-pointer, was runner-up for the award.
"Obviously, I saw him in the state tournament, and I've played on [AAU] teams with and against [Morgantown's] Nathan Adrian for a long time," Grantham said. "They are great players. I knew they would be in the race. I just worked as hard as I could this summer to become better. I kept focused.
"This is a great accomplishment for me but it would have been nowhere near possible if it wasn't for all my teammates.''
Grantham will receive the Evans Award at the Victory Awards Dinner May 5 in Clarksburg.
Others considered for the award were Magnolia's Mark Winters, Woodrow Wilson's Donte Nabors, Bluefield's Lykel Collier and Anthony Eades, Huntington's Arick Nicks, Parkersburg South's Wes Mitchem, Tug Valley's Austin Brewer, Morgantown's Adrian and Shady Spring's Chase Connor.