Davis embraces new role en route to Player of the Year honors

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Drew Tyler needed more from D.J. Davis.

The talented junior played a key role for the Chargers as a sophomore last season, but the Oxford head coach needed his star to take on even more of the offensive load this year after the departure of seniors Jacquez Elliot, Omari Frierson and Baylor Savage.

Davis didn’t need much convincing.

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He upped his field goal attempts from 12.5 per game last season to nearly 18 per contest this year, raising his scoring average by nearly seven points as he poured in 21 a game to establish himself as one of the top juniors in the state.

“He’s the best junior combo guard in the state of Mississippi,” Tyler said of Davis during the season. “He can score at the rim, he can score behind the three-point line, he gets to the free-throw line. He’s really comfortable with the ball in his hands and that’s a good thing… he’ll play high-level Division I basketball.”

Davis also took more pride on the defensive side of the ball this year after receiving feedback from college coaches who told him he needed to be a more effective two-way player in order to make an impact at the next level.

He spent countless hours working with assistant coach Tyler Reed on his footwork and positioning in an effort to become a more fundamentally sound defender, but also learned how to take “controlled risks” in order to be more disruptive and generate more turnovers.

His dedication on that end of the floor more than paid off as he led the team in steals (2.2) and deflections (2.3) while finishing second in blocks (0.4).

His all-around performance turned heads across the state, leading to a Capitol Sports Mississippi Player of the Week selection, a North/South All-Star Game nod and a spot on the All-Region First Team.

It also cemented his status as the top player in the county, earning him 2022-2023 Oxford Eagle Player of the Year honors for boys’ basketball.

He headlines a list of three Chargers on the 2022-2023 All-Area Team, joining a pair of teammates who put together impressive seasons of their own in Adam Tyson and Miles Luber.

Tyson excelled in his first season for Oxford, posting averages of 13.5 points, six rebounds and 1.3 assists in 27 minutes per game.

The 6-foot-7 freshman showcased a unique ability to score inside and out as he sliced up opposing big men with an array of crafty dribble moves and slithery finishes.

He worked efficiently to get his buckets as well, shooting over 50% on 9.1 attempts from the field and just under 30% on 1.6 attempts from beyond the arc.

Luber, meanwhile, struggled to find an offensive rhythm all season as defenses keyed in on his three-point shooting and ran him off the line with aggressive closeouts.

The junior found other ways to impact the game however, attacking the glass with reckless abandon and creating space for teammates with timely cuts and the constant threat of the long ball.

He finished second on the team in three-point attempts (5.4 per game) and percentage (28.7%) while finishing third in steals (0.9) and rebounds (five) as he made his presence felt on both ends with his relentless effort and hard-nosed approach.

Joining the trio of Chargers on this year’s All-Area team are a pair of Lafayette standouts who helped the Commodores snap a four-year playoff drought this season.

Senior Kylan Egerson was a steady presence for the Commodores all season, leading the team in scoring with 8.8 points per contest and finishing second on the team in assists (1.7), rebounds (five), steals (1.5) and deflections (1.8).

He recorded a career-high 25 points to go along with nine rebounds and four assists in a key victory over Hernando on Jan. 7 that gave Lafayette a much-needed boost late in the season.

Sophomore Jaylan Campbell also played a vital role for the Commodores this season from his spot on the low block, finishing fourth on the team in scoring with 7.4 points per game and leading the county with 7.5 rebounds and 0.6 blocks per contest.

He served as a strong deterrent for opponents seeking easy points at the rim, making quick rotations and affecting nearly every shot in the paint with his superb length and athleticism.

His strong play on both ends was critical to the Commodores’ success this season, and head coach Hunter Mason said he envisions Campbell as a piece to build around in the future.

“We’re expecting a lot of things from him because he’s really talented, and every game he’s getting better,” Mason said during the season. “I think he’s a big piece for us moving forward because he gives us that big body, he gives us the rebounding factor and he’s just a good kid.”

Neither Oxford nor Lafayette was content with how their season played out, but both squads will be hungry to build on the foundations laid this year with all but one of this year’s All-Area honorees set to suit up for their respective squads once again next winter.