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More than a great story: D.C. Davis now integral to Ole Miss basketball

OXFORD – When D.C. Davis made his first start under Kermit Davis in a Rebel basketball uniform Saturday, it was the culmination of a long road. Despite starting to fill in for a hampered Devontae Shuler, head coach Kermit Davis said that D.C. had “earned” the start. For a former walk-on, things are coming full circle.

After spending two years at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Miss., D.C. Davis walked on to the Ole Miss basketball team in 2017. Last season was a disappointment for Davis, making appearances in just five games. Despite getting one start, he never played more than nine minutes.

With coaching turnover in the offseason leading to Kermit Davis’ installment at the helm for Ole Miss, D.C. had a decision to make. He could leave and go play at smaller schools. However, he wanted to prove to himself and to others that he was capable of playing at this high level.

“I knew it was going to be tough. He told me there were no promises that I was going to get any playing time,” D.C. Davis said back in November. “But I had to prove to him that I was worthy to play on this team.”

Davis was put on a tentative scholarship this summer. Kermit wanted time to evaluate the guard and see if his work ethic on both the hardwood and the classroom would live up to his standards. Over the summer, the Rebels spent a week in Canada back in August, facing off against four Canadian teams in their first live competition with the new coaching staff. D.C. had made his mark.

“We got back from Canada and our staff and I just said ‘there’s no question that D.C. deserves it,’” Kermit Davis said. “We were giving up a scholarship, maybe a chance to take a guy mid-term. We just thought it was that important. He deserved it.”

Saturday’s win over Arkansas was the first time Davis got extended minutes against an SEC foe. With Devontae Shuler playing less minutes while dealing with a stress reaction in his foot, Davis saw 27 minutes of play against Arkansas. That 27 minutes wasn’t just the most he’s played in his career, it was more than he played all of last season combined.

Filling a bigger role, D.C. Davis led the team in a plus-minus statistic the team keeps that values effort plays. The great story is now a great factor.

“He did great, he guarded at a high level. He made some unbelievable 50-50 ball plays and dove on the floor. He finished a couple high level plays,” said Kermit Davis.

Ole Miss lists D.C. Davis at a very generous 5-foot-11. Simply put, D.C. Davis is not 5-foot-11. He talks openly about challenges about being a smaller guard, and subsequent doubts related. Understandably, it’s likely his size that led to his shallow recruitment pool. The Purvis, Miss. native led the state in scoring as a senior, averaging over 34 points, yet he had to go to a junior college for two years.

On the floor, Davis said his limited stature affects him on both ends. Offensively, he has to be more careful than most to take smart shots. Being shorter, he needs more space to get shots off and shot fakes become even more critical. Defensively for Davis, it will come down to effort and will. He’s almost always going to be smaller than other SEC guards, but he has to defend like anyone else, as to not be a liability.

“I did have (doubts). I kind of doubted myself based off my size. I’m a smaller guard,” Davis said. “But at the same time, I had to look in the mirror and say this is what I really wanted. So I had to put forth the work to do the things I wanted to do.”

Saturday’s win over Arkansas was the first time Davis got extended minutes against an SEC foe. With Devontae Shuler playing less minutes while dealing with a stress reaction in his foot, Davis saw 27 minutes of play against Arkansas. That 27 minutes wasn’t just the most he’s played in his career, it was more than he played all of last season combined. Now filling a bigger role, D.C. Davis led the team in a non-traditional plus-minus statistic the team keeps that values effort plays.

“He did great, he guarded at a high level. He made some unbelievable 50-50 ball plays and dove on the floor. He finished a couple high level plays,” said Kermit Davis.

Davis would not start in last night’s blowout loss at Alabama, but would play 24 minutes in the game.

Kermit called D.C. Davis one of the most athletic players on the Ole Miss roster, particularly in his ability to explode to the rim and finish in traffic. For his teammates, it’s the work ethic he displays that has earned his trust. Junior guard Breein Tyree said after the Arkansas game that he has “so much love” for Davis due to his effort and work. Additionally, fellow senior guard Terence Davis had similar things to say.

“D.C. works hard. He works extremely hard. He’s probably in the gym right now,” Terence Davis said. “He shows you in practice what he’s capable of.”

With Shuler’s minutes limited, D.C. Davis now has the opportunity to showcase on a national stage what all his Rebel teammates see in practice on a daily basis. For a Mississippi kid and a former walk on, starting at Ole Miss is a dream – one that is now playing itself out every day for D.C. Davis.