Detroit Mercy goaltender Antoine Davis has embraced pursuit of NCAA scoring record – Andscape

CLEVELAND — The next college basketball scoring machine of all time nearly never developed. The frail kid from Alabama preferred video games and drawing characters on paper.

“I really didn’t like basketball growing up,” University of Detroit Mercy senior point guard Antoine Davis said. “It was forced on me because my dad was a coach and my older brother was playing. I was always around basketball. As a child, I wanted to play video games professionally.

But moving to a different location, training with an NBA coach, and a newfound appreciation for the sport all made Davis one of the most prolific scorers in college basketball history.

Davis, who is averaging 24.6 points per game, is 10th on the Division I career scorers list (3,048 points). This year he passed legends like Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati), Larry Bird (Indiana State) and Elvin Hayes (Houston). Davis is 117 points out of the top five all-time. And with 18 regular-season games remaining, he’s likely to finish No. 2 overall, behind Pete Maravich (LSU), who scored an incredible 3,667 points in just three seasons.

Davis is within reach to become college basketball’s all-time career 3-point leader. He is currently third and 26 behind Wofford’s Fletcher Magee for the all-time record. Davis passed Duke’s JJ Redick for No. 4 on the list earlier this month.

“My dad told me about all these phenomenal players,” said Davis, the NCAA’s all-time leader with 119 straight double-digit games. “I’ve never seen them play, so I looked them up on YouTube. I never thought I’d be in this position with legends.

Especially after his family moved to Houston once Davis’ father, Mike, was fired as head coach from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and hired as head coach at Texas Southern University. .

Although Coach Davis introduced his son to the game, he raised the level of instruction and competition under the guidance of his good friend, former NBA player and current Houston Rockets assistant coach John Lucas.

“Before Lucas, my dad and I trained at a recreation center in Alabama doing exercises,” Davis said. “We trained about two to three days a week. We moved when I was in seventh grade. I was still learning to play when I first went to [Lucas’] gym.”

Detroit Mercy guard Antoine Davis (left) dribbles past Noah Farrakhan (right) of Eastern Michigan in the second half at the George Gervin GameAbove Center on December 18, 2022 in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Davis was nearly overwhelmed when he walked into the John Lucas Enterprises facility and saw nearly a hundred players, from college to high school to college, all working out drills or playing games.

“It was so loud,” Davis said. “It was intimidating, because before it was just me and my dad. I remember no one was standing there. Everyone was doing something. When [Lucas] said “hold the ball”, everyone stopped and the gym went silent. He had no whistle or microphone.

Lucas has helped basketball players at all levels for decades. His organization develops players and coaches through camps, clinics and private lessons. Lucas immediately put a plan in place once he saw the nimble Davis.

“He was undersized, and I knew if he developed a shot there was always a place on the basketball court for someone who could shoot,” said Lucas, who was selected No. 1 overall in the 1976 NBA draft. “I used that same formula for my [undersized] my son John, who played 10 years in the NBA, and my son Jai, who was a McDonald’s All American.

Developing those necessary scoring skills under Lucas hasn’t been easy. It included individual drills, skill work, and matches against much older players who were either in college or professional.

” I worked with [Lucas] sometimes three times a day from seventh to 12th grade,” Davis said. “He was tough on me. He pushed me and pushed me. Working with him and my dad would stop you from liking basketball unless you were mentally tough. But I started liking basketball- ball once I started seeing success in my high school games.

That high school success, which ranked Davis 20th in Texas State scoring in 2018, led to his commitment to the University of Houston. That changed, however, when Detroit Mercy hired his father as head coach.

Davis made an immediate impression his freshman year, averaging 26 points per game and setting an NCAA freshman record with 132 3-pointers — 10 more than previous record holder Stephen Curry (Davidson). He also scored a career-high 48 points against Wright State.

He averaged 24 points in each of the next two seasons and was named an Associated Press honorable mention All-American. Davis also averaged 24 points per game in his senior year and was named Co-Horizon League Player of the Year.

“My role and my leadership have grown since my freshman year,” Davis said. “I came in shy and not very vocal, but decided to take on more of a leadership role that year. I’ve grown a lot since my first day of college.

Davis’ growth as a scorer developed an unapologetic shoot-first attitude. These shots can come from dribbling and occasionally from catch-and-shoot.

“I’m also an underrated playmaker and improving defensively,” Davis said. “Although I am about 170 [pounds]I’m able to stay ahead, take a bump and keep people.

Detroit Mercy Head Coach Mike Davis (left) talks with his son Antoine Davis (right) during a game against the Eastern Michigan Eagles at the George Gervin GameAbove Center on December 18, 2022 in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Since the NCAA is allowing student athletes a fifth season due to the coronavirus pandemic, Davis decided to return this year. But his destination was in question as he entered the transfer portal looking for more lucrative name, image and likeness (NIL) opportunities and higher profile competition. Once Davis entered the portal, suitors like Brigham Young University, Baylor, Kansas State and Maryland called.

“I wondered what it was like to play at a Power 5 level,” Davis said. “NIL played a part in that because I saw people who hadn’t done nearly half of what I did in college, and they were getting six figures right next to their name. . So, I thought maybe I could be a part of it.

Davis changed his mind. He signed an NIL deal with a company that produced custom limited GlowBalls and even helped design the logo. He will split the proceeds with his teammates and donate the proceeds to the Detroit Mercy sports program.

“My dad didn’t push me to make a decision,” Davis said. “After a while, I didn’t feel good leaving without winning a conference title and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. It would have been bad to leave and not finish my career here.

Unfinished business has been a challenge this season. Detroit Mercy is 5-7, and much of the attention, especially by defenses, has been on Davis. Double-team, triple-team, and trap defenses around Davis are often the norm. The same goes for aggressive attention.

“It gets frustrating at times because he should be shooting more free throws because of the physical play,” Mike Davis said. “He’s probably making fewer free throws on average than anyone who’s scored 3,000 points.”

Despite Coach Davis’ claims of the opponents’ defensive play against his son, Antoine managed to produce. During his career, he shoots 88.5% from the free throw line and leads the team with 4.4 assists per game last season. He is also one of only two men in the top 10 career scorers with 500 or more assists. The other is Keydren Clark of Saint Peter (3,058 points and 501 assists).

Davis has the ability to pass the ball, he’s defined by scoring, especially this season. Enter the nearly 8,000-seat Calihan Hall and in the northeast corner of the arena is a banner highlighting ‘The Chase’. Davis’ cumulative career point total is on the left side of the banner, and his 3 career points are on the right.

And he embraced the hunt.

“There’s the banner in the arena, and every time I’m on social media someone talks about the record,” Davis said. “I’m trying not to be very careful, but it’s a bit difficult with the banner right there. Winning the conference and making the tournament will still be first before the record, but it would be something special to even finish in the top three.

All of the potential honors and accolades would come with a bit of a void due to the passing of Davis’ grandfather, who died of lung cancer last month.

“He watched all my games,” Davis said. “He never went overboard when it came to advice on basketball or records. He was just telling me to play and work hard. Of course I wish he were here to see [me possibly set records] but I know he’s proud of me up there.

Branson Wright is a freelance multimedia sports filmmaker and journalist.

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