Impact Izzone will be handing out performance reviews for each Spartan in the following weeks. The series will start with the freshmen and move up the classes. Stay tuned for the rest of our grades!
Deyonta Davis 2015-16 stats: 18.6 mins, 7.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 59.8% FG
Davis was tough to figure out when he first got to East Lansing. The quietest kid on campus with perhaps the most potential, we had no idea what to expect. Was he going to be a three-year project or a one-year superstar? The answer lies somewhere in the middle.
With the extraordinary depth of the MSU squad, Davis was not relied upon by any means as a go-to scorer. In fact, he was only No. 6 on the team in total minutes and No. 5 in points. Davis started 16 of the last 17 games and provided a great one-two punch in the paint alongside Matt Costello. But it was his defense that separated him from his peers. His shot blocking ability was by far the best on the team and one of the best in the Big Ten. That’s what pro scouts love about Davis.
He showed flashes of promise with his post up game, but for the most part it was his active rebounding and putbacks that made him so valuable. His game against Wisconsin in East Lansing was perhaps the pinnacle of his season. Davis was matched up with Nigel Hayes, who torched Davis in the last meeting. Well it was Davis who dominated round two, limiting Hayes to five points on 1-for-13 shooting. Games like those make you remember why Davis was a five-star recruit and is currently considering making a jump to the NBA.
Being named Mr. Basketball for the state of Michigan before entering your freshman year at a basketball powerhouse in East Lansing means that you have lofty expectations — and that’s what Deyonta Davis had when he put on the green and white.
The second half of his season was definitely his brightest, as he started all but one game of the last 17 and was a defensive juggernaut. The play that I will remember him for most was his block on Diamond Stone at the end of the Maryland game to advance to the Big Ten championship game. Davis’ huge wingspan, coupled with his knack of awareness in the post, makes him one of the best defensive players on the Spartans roster.
But that’s only if he comes back next season for his sophomore year, and forgoes the NBA Draft and millions of dollars. I’m on record as saying I think he will come back. He has some things to improve upon, most notably his shyness of shooting the basketball with his back away from the bucket. He did it in high school, so why not do it at MSU? Davis was a top five player for Michigan State this past season, and he was a pleasure to watch. I think I echo all Spartan fans’ sentiments when I say I hope he comes back next season and gets revenge.
Before the start of the 2015-2016 basketball season, Spartan fans envisioned Deyonta Davis playing an effective role coming off the bench. The enormous depth of forwards including Costello, Schilling, and Wollenman overshadowed the nothing but hyped 6-foot-10 Mr. Basketball of Michigan. However, Davis showed that the hype was real after his overall impressive debut as a Spartan.
The sensational freshman out of Muskegon played all 35 games for about 19 minutes per game. He netted eight points per game, also recording six rebounds and two blocks. And if that is not enough to impress you, then maybe his stellar 60 percent made shots from the field will do the trick. Davis ranked in the top five on his squad in each of these categories and led the Spartans in blocks per game and field goal percentage.
The main driving force behind his success, of course, is his size. The combination of his expansive arm span and his sky-high hops proved to be lethal, which ultimately led to his swat fest and crashing the boards with ease. This particular display earned him a spot in the starting lineup around the halfway mark of the season. His lengthy size helped him scoring-wise as well, as most of his made shots were within five feet.
The star freshman is not perfect by any means, as Davis was shaky on defense throughout the season. Besides his consistent rebounding and blocking, he struggled defensively maintaining his ground on the interior. Nimble and strong offensive big boys gave Davis fits. He needs to improve on contesting shots and applying more pressure in the post. The bony giant can become the firm giant by pumping iron, which will drastically improve his game. From a leadership standpoint, he has to become more vocal with his teammates and coaches. Hearing Davis talk is as rare as seeing Bill Belichick smile.
Davis surpassed many people’s expectations (including mine) as he served as a valuable asset on the Spartans. His size and post game can take him far, but his lack of versatility and limited ball movement may hold him back. Hopefully he returns to MSU to develop into more of a complete player and possibly take Izzo and company to the promised land.
Whether it was his rim-rocking putback dunks or his jaw-dropping blocks, Deyonta Davis impressed in his first (and only?) season as a Spartan. The Muskegon monster, all 6-foot-10 of him, came in with raw athletic ability and overall did a solid job of improving on that ability.
Only at times was Davis a force offensively. He became Denzel Valentine’s favorite alley-oop candidate, and with length like Davis’s, you can’t blame him. But outside of lobs and putbacks, I felt like Davis was not doing enough on the offensive side of the ball. There was never a moment where he was a top option for scoring the basketball. He developed a mid-range jumper later in the season, gaining confidence in that shot as conference play advanced. With his back to the basket, Davis was either hit or miss. His jump hook was pretty and was hardly ever blocked, thanks to his length. But I’d like to see Davis put some muscle on to his wiry frame and use more power against opposing bigs.
Davis was also hit-or-miss on defense. The highlight to his entire game is definitely his shot-blocking ability, and with 64 blocks, he set the freshman record at Michigan State. Davis also developed his footwork on defense over the course of the year, holding his own against other wiry bigs. His signature performance was against Wisconsin star forward Nigel Hayes on Feb. 18. Davis held the first team All-Big Ten forward to 1-of-13 shooting and only five points in a crucial win for MSU. However, his body is still not fit for defending the big, burly centers that the Big Ten usually fields, so he will need to bulk up this offseason to become a complete player. Overall, Davis was outrageously impressive in his strengths, but his weaknesses must be fixed for him to become an elite player.