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Friday, April 19
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

De’Ron Davis’ IU career has been inconsistent. But in Michigan, he didn't miss.

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Standing in the service entry tunnel of Crisler Arena, junior guard Al Durham clapped quietly and pretended to bow to his teammate next to him. He stood next to senior forward De’Ron Davis in the postgame press conference. 

Durham was celebrating Davis after a career day. His career has ebbed and flowed across four years, but for one day in Michigan in a losing effort, Davis put all that had gone wrong in his career behind him. 

Davis scored a career best 18 points with a perfect 9-9 shooting mark from the field. 

“My guys were finding me, shots were falling, my work has just been paying off,” Davis said after the 89-65 loss. 

Davis’ career with IU has strung across two head coaches. He’s flashed in and out of the spotlight and assumed a role that progressed further down the depth chart as he got older. 

He rarely capitalized on chances he was given, and for much of the 2019-20 season he has been one of the last players off the bench. Injuries have always been at the forefront of the greater picture of Davis’ IU tenure. 

Coming out of high school, Davis was ranked as a 4-star recruit and a top-50 player in the country. He was the highest ranked player in IU’s class that year.

Davis carved out a role for himself off the bench as a freshman, playing in 34 games and starting four. He averaged 13.9 minutes and 5.9 points per game. 

On national television against No. 1 ranked Duke University in 2017, Davis was brilliant. He scored 16 points and fueled a near-upset of the Blue Devils. He was a sophomore then, full of promise. With his performance against such a talented Duke team, Davis had the look of IU’s big man for the future. He started 15 games as a sophomore and averaged 9.6 points per game. 

Then he tore his Achilles. He’s never been the same since. 

His playing time declined as a junior, only starting three times in 30 games and averaged roughly five minutes per game less compared to his sophomore season. He only scored 5.4 points a game and was rarely a factor in a season led by Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford. 

Davis wasn’t elected a captain as a senior. He started the season playing minimal minutes off the bench, and whenever he came in, he picked up two fouls quickly before being relegated back to the bench. He looked to be teetering on the edge of falling out of the rotation entirely.

But then his playing time started to increase. After playing a total of 35 minutes, 4.4 per game, in eight games between Nov. 25 and Dec. 29, he’s averaged 10.2 minutes per game in the 12 games since. His minutes, while still short, were productive. Then he took the floor at the Crisler Center. 

Against Michigan, Davis hit hook shots. He drove to the basket with agility and provided some of IU’s only contributions on the defensive and rebounding ends. For the first time since that night against Duke two years before, Davis was the star. The offense fed through him and Miller couldn’t take him off the floor. He was a rare player who played with toughness and energy all the way to the end in the blowout loss to Michigan. 

“He was effective not only in different portions of the game, but start to finish, he commands some attention,” Miller said after the loss to Michigan. “Nineteen minutes, made all nine of his shots which is good. He was definitely the most effective player on our team.”

Davis isn’t getting into Miller’s rotation with the forwards on the roster around him. No one afternoon could make up for the career path he’s endured. But for one day — as a career that never seemed to hit winds to a close — Davis didn't miss. 

“I started the season healthy, I’m going to finish the season healthy,” Davis said. “I’m just going to continue to take care of my body, continue to do what I’m doing. Seize on my opportunity every time I get out on the court. Do the best I can.”

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