Only seven players that saw the floor from the 2018-19 Indiana basketball team will be back for the 2019-20 campaign as of this writing.
While formal practices have concluded, the work never stops for high major college basketball players. Growth and development happens in the offseason, in individual workouts and permitted organized team activities.
If you could talk to each of the seven returning players about their 2018-19 season and what they need to improve going forward, what would you say?
We play Archie for a day and give it a shot with “Exit Interviews.”
Quick 2018-19 Recap:
De’Ron Davis’ offseason heading into the 2018-19 campaign was severely hampered by a torn Achilles tendon suffered in January of 2018. Rather than developing his game heading into his junior season, Davis was in recovery mode. His efforts found him ready to go, but in a limited capacity to start the season.
New issues sprung up during the season, including an ankle injury that cost Davis a few games. In the end, Davis never seemed to return to 100 percent, and certainly didn’t get to where he could have been with a healthy offseason.
The Colorado native played in 30 games and made 3 starts on the season. The 6-foot-10 center averaged 5.4 points and 2.5 rebounds in 13.6 minutes per game.
Davis has consistently been an efficient scorer during his career and he finished the season ranked 7th all-time at IU by making 55.7% of his field goal attempts including 60% for the 2018-19 campaign.
Primary Developmental Needs:
1. Dominate the post.
As his all-time field goal percentage stature suggests, Davis is perhaps best known for being a talented scorer in the paint. There is no reason to shy away from that now. Every team needs a go-to option on the block. This isn’t necessarily a “developmental need”, but Davis can go from good to great and be a major asset next year when IU needs a clutch basket.
It seems unlikely that Davis is going to develop a perimeter game at this point. With that understanding, he’ll need to become exceptional at reading defenses and passing out of the post when double teams and digs arrive. Otherwise his one dimensional game can become an easy target for opposing coaches — especially if IU doesn’t become a better perimeter shooting team and the paint is once again clogged.
2. Improvement on the defensive end. When it comes to defending another back to the basket big man, Davis is competent. But when you pull him out into space — hedging on ball screens, guarding on the perimeter — there are challenges. We’re willing to give him some benefit of the doubt with the injuries, but improvement is still clearly needed. Much of the growth is going to come from the physical side, which takes us to number three.
3. Maximize the offseason. Unlike last year, Davis went into this offseason relatively healthy. The eight months off are an opportunity to refresh, build stamina, optimize his body composition and develop athletically. We haven’t seen a healthy Davis in what will be nearly two years when the 2019-20 season begins. He was still an underclassman then. He will be a 23 year old man in November.
The potential is there for Davis to be a physical force as a senior — but it all starts with his dedication during the offseason. In order for him to become a more effective rebounder, rim protector and defender — three musts for Davis — he is going to have to make strides athletically this summer.
4. All gas no breaks. It’s no secret that Davis will have competition in the rotation with Joey Brunk and Trayce Jackson-Davis entering the fray. That isn’t necessarily bad news. Of course competition is good for everyone on its own, but Davis wasn’t going to play 35 minutes a game anyway.
Whether it is 15 or 25 minutes, a healthy Davis has an opportunity to give max effort without concerning himself with fatigue or foul trouble. The entire dynamic of having multiple competent players at the five should be an area of strength for IU next season.
What Success Looks Like in 2019-20
If ever there was a guy who had the potential to put it all together and have a big senior season, Davis appears to be it. College basketball analyst Andy Katz agrees, naming Davis as one of five “rising seniors” ready to take on a larger role.
At the high end you might expect 10 points and 5 rebounds per game for Davis at right around 20 minutes per contest. If he can do that while averaging more than a block per game, not being a defensive liability, all while providing leadership — the season will be a success.
Davis isn’t likely to become a high level free throw shooter, but he did show signs of improvement last year. He’s likely to draw a lot of fouls, and a free throw percentage closer to 70% would be a major benefit to this team.
Previous Exit Interviews:
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