Updated: Jul 9, 2020
Credit: Nick Wenger
So often in college basketball, getting top players to stay close to home can become a challenge. Keeping top in-state talent, many of whom already have a chemistry from having played together or knowing each other through the years, has led to many great NCAA tournament runs. With Head Coach Eric Musselman’s first year at University of Arkansas in the books, it appears evident that he employed this philosophy for this year’s recruiting class.
Arkansas landed Moses Moody and KK Robinson, both of whom started playing high school basketball in Arkansas before moving to Montverde Academy in Florida and Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, respectively. Gatorade Player of the Year for Arkansas, big man Jaylin Williams, is yet another of the four players coming into Arkansas who are among the 247 Composite Top-100 players in the 2020 high school class. Davonte Davis was the first of this talented group to commit. A strong part of Woodz Elite’s (AR) success on the Nike EYBL circuit, Davis is set to be a part of this home state revival.
Originally committed to Oklahoma State, Davis’ strong play in the EYBL’s Peach Jam caught his home state school’s attention. With a number of other high major options also showing interest, like Auburn, Mississippi, Oregon, and Texas Tech, he ultimately made the decision to commit to the Razorbacks. Davis is a lefty guard with a 6’7 wingspan, which is a big part of his success as a finisher. He brings positional versatility with the potential to play both on or off the ball, has good lateral mobility and has shown potential as a shooter. His upward trajectory was evident at Peach Jam, where he doubled his regular season scoring average as Woodz Elite finished 3-2 against some of the top teams in the field.
Pro Insight sat down with Davis and talked about the dynamic around his recruitment, what led him to choose basketball as a former multi-sport athlete, his family’s past history with sports in general, and his routine given the current circumstances of COVID-19.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present Arkansas commit Davonte Davis, from Jacksonville, Arkansas:
Pro Insight: Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your family like? Any siblings or relatives also play sports?
Davonte Davis: I’m from Jacksonville, Arkansas. I have zero siblings, actually, and I got a few uncles that actually played college basketball and one that played college football at Arkansas. My grandma played college, as well. I come from a family that’s always played basketball.
PI: Did you also play any other sports?
DD: Yes, before my ninth grade year, before I transferred to Jacksonville Lighthouse [Charter school], at Jacksonville Middle School, I played baseball, basketball, and football...so I played three sports. Then my ninth grade year I got into track — once I transferred to Jacksonville Lighthouse, they actually didn’t have football or baseball at the time, so I just played basketball and track. Those two [sports] I just took in stride and became better and I grew.
PI: Which events in track and field? And which positions did you play in football and baseball?
DD: For baseball, I played shortstop and pitcher. In football, I played quarterback, running back, and wide receiver. For track, I did all the hurdles — so the 300 & 100 meter hurdles and the high jump, as well.
PI: Did you stop running track, or did you continue it throughout high school?
DD: I was still maintaining track, but my 11th grade year I tore my meniscus so I wasn’t able to run...so therefore I couldn’t run [track], last year. If I was still in school right now, I’d be running this year as well.
PI: Any interest in being a dual sport athlete [basketball & track] at Arkansas, or is basketball your sole focus?
DD: Yeah, my focus is on basketball once I get up to Fayetteville. I was really doing it [track] just to stay ready and it provides a lot of conditioning and stuff like that.
PI: Describe your game – what are your greatest strengths and biggest areas for improvement? What’s the most underrated aspect of your game?
DD: Yeah, a strength is getting everyone involved in the game of course...that’s my first thing, I like to get my teammates involved. I also can shoot the midrange very well, and I’m a good free throw shooter, too. I can attack and create for myself. Some things I think I should work on...to shoot consistently, being a leader on the floor is something I really got to do better at, and also being active on the defensive end. In terms of underrated, just being able to control the pace of the game, I think I do that very well and lead my team in difficult situations.
PI: With most things shut down right now due to COVID-19, what are some things you’re doing to stay ready and prepare for Arkansas next season?
DD: Well with all this stuff going on I’ve been doing a lot of strength and conditioning things. Also I get in the gym at least three times per week and get a lot of shots up with just me and another person. I think that’s helped me out a lot, being in there by myself going after the little things.
PI: What aspects of your game are you currently working on in prep for next season?
DD: Really just going in and getting a lot of shots up and making shots consistently. Also, just being able to keep everything tight like my handle and all that...just working on every aspect of my game so when I go to Fayetteville I’ll be ready.
PI: Who have been some tough individual matchups for you throughout your high school and AAU career?
DD: Really I just compete at practices with my teammates, which has helped me out a lot. I mean going against competition is always going to be tough, but me, I don’t really play against a lot of competition that I don’t think that I’m not better than. I mean, I feel like I’m one of the top guards in the country so I think really they’re competing against me and my team.
PI: Your team failed to make the state playoffs in 2019, but made it all the way to the state championship in 2020 before it was eventually canceled — do you feel like you accomplished what you wanted to this season? Do you feel like you guys had a good shot to beat West Memphis in the title game?
DD: Well last year, we didn’t make state [playoffs], and we fell short as a team. I got hurt. I tore my meniscus, so that really hurt us. But coming into this year, we were coming in ready to win games and going game by game, hoping to make it to the championship and that’s what happened. I think I did and we did accomplish a lot of goals that we were looking forward to accomplishing. So I think everything we looked forw