Grant: Darrell Davis ‘locked in as a senior’

Dayton’s Darrell Davis reacts after a basket against Georgia State on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff
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Dayton’s Darrell Davis reacts after a basket against Georgia State on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Dayton’s one senior has increased his scoring average by 12.6

Darrell Davis started his Dayton Flyers career with a statement, showing off his scoring talents with a 17-point performance in the first game of his freshman season, and he has a chance to end it in a similar way.

Ten games into his senior year, Davis has been one of the most improved players in the Atlantic 10 Conference, if not all of college basketball. He has increased his scoring average by 12.6 points from his junior year: 5.5 to 18.1.

Davis scored 22 points Saturday in an 88-83 overtime victory against Georgia State at UD Arena.

“I think he’s really locked in as a senior,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said after the game. “He’s relishing the opportunity to lead this group as a senior, as a scorer, as a defender. He wants the toughest task from a defensive standpoint. It was a 45-minute game tonight, and he played 44.”

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Grant made a big jump himself from his freshman to sophomore season, taking his scoring average from 0.8 to 10.7. Davis’ scoring increase is bigger than the one Kendall Pollard made as a sophomore (2.2 to 12.7), when he was named the A-10’s most improved player. Pollard is one of the few players in Dayton history to increase his average by 10 points or more from one season to the next.

Jumps like that typically happen when roster changes thrust players into larger roles. Dan Sadlier averaged 6.5 points as a junior in 1967-68 on a team led by senior Don May and led the team with 18.2 points per game a year later.

Davis played with four seniors last season. Now he’s the go-to scorer, along with redshirt junior forward Josh Cunningham

Davis has also doubled his assists average (1.2 to 2.8). His rebound average has increased from 1.9 to 3.5. Some of the improvement was inevitable. His minutes had to increase because he’s the only senior on a young team. He’s playing 37.2 minutes per game after averaging 20.8 last season.

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However, the increased workload hasn’t hurt Davis’ shooting. His 3-point percentage has moved from 38.5 to 41.7. After focusing in the offseason on finishing shots at the rim, Davis has seen his 2-point percentage rise from 23.8 to 45.6. Even his free-throw percentage has improved (72.7 to 81.3).

Turnovers is the only area where Davis has struggled. He’s averaging 3.1 per game, up from 0.8 last season.

“We’re asking a lot from him on both ends of the floor, and he’s been up to the task as our leader and our only senior,” Grant said. “I know his teammates all look to him to fill that role, and they’re asking him to do more in terms of leading us. It’s great for him with everything he’s experienced over the course of his career to see it come full circle now that he’s a senior. He’s a guy that’s got to set the example.”

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