Dudley E. Dawson is a reporter for Hawgs Illustrated. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Arkansas hoops signee Davis primed for big season
Davonte Davis (3) shoots Friday, April 12, 2019, during play at Fayetteville High School.
FAYETTEVILLE New Arkansas basketball signee and Jacksonville star Davonte Davis is going to get plenty of attention from defenses, fans and the media this season.
Davis (6-4, 175) is ranked 79th nationally in the 2020 class per ESPN and the Razorbacks’ lone early signee. He's equipped to handle all that according to Titans head coach Victor Joyner.
“He is an Arkansas kid and we know he is going to get a lot of publicity, especially now that he is going to be a Razorback,” Joyner said. “But just because he is going to Arkansas, he is not going to be any different. He is a very humble and hard-working young man. He does not have the big head and he understands how hard he is going to have to keep working.
“In fact, he probably has to work even harder because he is going to be challenged so much.”
Davis signed with Arkansas early Tuesday afternoon ahead of Jacksonville opening its season tonight against visiting eStem.
Razorvback head coach Eric Musselman was pleased to land the Arkansas standout.
“We love Devo’s ability to be both a playmaker and a scorer at all three levels," Musselnan said. "He is an elite free throw attempt player and does a great job finishing through contact. From a defensive perspective, Devo will add a long, athletic defender that can guard multiple positions.
“He is an exhilarating, exciting point guard that Hog fans will love to watch and teammates will love to play with him.”
He initially committed to Oklahoma State on Dec.2, 2018, but began to reconsider Arkansas when Musselman was brought on board.
Davis de-committed from the Cowboys on Oct. 1 and then committed to the Razorbacks after two visits in the next 10 days.
He chose his home state team over Oregon, Oklahoma State, Auburn, Texas Tech, Florida, Ole Miss, SMU and others.
“He is really happy about going to Arkansas and really excited about his future with the Razorbacks and where they are headed,” Joyner said.
Davis averaged 12 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists for Woodz Elite in Nike EYBL regular-season play and 18.4 points and 4.8 rebounds at the prestigious Peach Jam finals in July while overcoming a lingering knee injury.
He was teammates this spring and summer with West Memphis and Memphis signee Chris Moore (6-6, 220) and Fort Smith Northside big man Jaylin Williams (6-10, 230), who will announce his decision on Saturday.
Joyner has already seen the challenges Davis is going to face that comes with being a future Razorback.
“Even in a little jamboree we played in, a kid came up and gave him a blind side shoulder and nearly knocked him out and the ref doesn’t call it,” Joyner said. “Those kind of things are going to happen. He got a technical, which we don’t want him to do. We want him to let us handle it.”
To that end, Joyner has set up physical practices for Davis.
“Kids are going to come at him and we have been trying to simulate it in practice,” Joyner said. “We send kids at him. We let kids hit him, slap him and give him the chance to work on his composure because we know he is going to take shots in the game and people are not going to give him calls. We have been trying to prepare him for that in practice. We want him ready for the physical nature of play he is going to go up against.”
Jacksonville, which will play Dermott on Saturday in North Little Rock in the Jammin’ for Jackets event, also had another pair of highly regarded 2021 prospects in Ryan Maxwell (6-6, 207) and Jordan Maxwell (6-3, 165).
“Ryan Maxwell is a top 150 kid,” Joyner said. “He is about 6-4, 6-5 now. He has got some mid majors and a couple of Division Is calling with interest. This is a big season for Ryan because he is transitioning from the 4 to the 3.
“Jordan Maxwell has a hairline fracture and he has been out about two weeks and we don’t know when he is coming back.”
One of the highlights of Jacksonville’s schedule is a return trip to the King Cotton Classic in Pine Bluff on Dec. 27-30.
The King Cotton was revived last season after a 18-year hiatus and features two different divisions after expanding from eight teams to 12.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla., NSU University School, ranked 8th nationally by USA Today, heads up the national division that also includes Chicago, Ill., Orr; Corona, Calif., Centennial Jacksonville; Memphis Wooddale; Raymond, Miss.; Jacksonville and Little Rock Parkview. Former Razorback star Scotty Thurman coaches Parkview.
The regional division features Missouri City, Texas, Hightower; Pine Bluff; Pine Bluff Dollarway and Yazoo, Miss., County.
Joyner made it clear he wanted to take on all comers.
“I had the guy from the King Cotton call and said ‘Coach, I am going to give you a chance to drop down and play in our lower level tournament,’” Joyner said. “He said ‘we’ve got some master blasters coming in here, we have got the number one team out this state and they have got 6-7, 6-7 and 6-8s and we were going to let you have the chance to play in the B tournament.’
“I said ‘no way. We want to play in the A tournament.' If somebody is going to beat us by 30, that’s fine, but we are not going to back down from anybody in Florida, California, Arkansas or whatever. If we run into two 7-footers, we are going to make them play so bring it on."
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