You haven’t heart of Antoine Davis because (1) he’s a freshman who (2) plays for Detroit Mercy.
But he’s the No. 2 scorer in the country at 27.2 points per game, he’s got a good shot at breaking Steph Curry’s freshman 3-point record, and if was at a school that played on national television, everyone would be comparing him to Trae Young.
One of the reasons Davis plays for Detroit Mercy is that his dad, Mike Davis, is the first-year coach there. Another is that he’s 6-foot-1, 150 pounds and was a three-star recruit in high school.
As this Detroit Free Press story explains, Davis’ game is the product of some newfangled sports science.
It was actually two books by the same author, Daniel Coyle: “The Little Book of Talent” and “The Talent Code.” Coyle has worked as a special adviser to the Cleveland Indians and describes himself as a journalist focused on the science behind high performance in groups and individuals.
Mike Davis read the books before Antoine was of high school age and the texts have served as a sort of Rosetta Stone, a cypher that guides his son’s greatness.
“The guy,” Davis said of Coyle, “quoted Bruce Lee, who said he didn’t fear the man who threw 10,000 different kicks one time. He feared the man who threw one kick 10,000 times.”
Mike Davis culled numerous themes from Coyle’s books. Among them were dispelling the myth of muscle memory and learning how to train your brain. Another was emulating and seeking the counsel of five people who are the best in their field.
Earlier this month, Davis scored 48 of his team’s 79 points in a win over Wright State. He had 42 in a blowout win over Loyola Maryland in November, and he’s topped 30 six times.
Most (52 percent) of Davis’ field goal attempts are 3-pointers, and he makes 41 percent of them. He’s made 91 3s in 19 games this year (4.8 per game). That puts him well in range of Steph Curry’s freshman NCAA record of 122 3s from 2006-07. With 11 games left, plus the Horizon League tournament, Davis is on pace for 149 3s — and that’s if his season ends after the first league tournament game.
Davis is a good free-throw shooter, but he’s taken just 77 free throws all year, and he’s not much of a threat from inside the 3-point line, shooting 42 percent.
Davis was home-schooled in high school, so as to leave more time for the gym, where he’d put up thousands of shots per day — 60,000 in a week one time — and studying the small guards in the NBA, looking for something to steal.
A rival coach, Oakland’s Greg Kampe, has never seen anything quite like it.
“In 41 years of coaching,” Kampe said, “I’ve never seen a kid, a freshman at the mid-major level like him. I think if he was at Oklahoma, they’d be saying Trae who? I think he would have that same type of impact that kid had last year.”
There’s just one problem: Detroit Mercy is 8-11. The Titans are second in the Horizon League, but they haven’t been able to hang with anybody else, losing to Temple by 16, to Butler by 21 and to Xavier by 14.
So we might not get to see this guy in the NCAA Tournament.