Detroit – It has been a rather long wait with Antoine Davis: Will he stay or will he leave?
It turns out he wants to go – but he does not want to become a professional.
Davis, who starred in Detroit Mercy for four years and became the program’s leading goal scorer of all time, said Thursday he will enter the transfer portal and play a fifth (COVID) season at another school. Antoine leaves behind his father, Mike, the Titans’ head coach, and brother, Mike Jr., an assistant coach.
Davis made the announcement on social media, sending shockwaves through medium-sized basketball circles.
“It was not in the works for a long time,” Davis told The News in a phone call moments after the announcement Thursday. “I mean, I feel like I made my time here. I feel like I’ve done so much for this university, you know? Just felt it was time to explore some possibilities.”
Now the most burning question is – What was Dad’s reaction?
“He was ok with that,” Antoine said. “He just wants me to do what makes me happy.
“In the end, yes, he’s my coach, but he’s my dad first.”
Mike Davis was not immediately available for comment.
Davis, 23, said he has not spoken to other programs yet – certainly, his phone is about to explode – and interestingly, he said he does not rule out playing for another medium-sized program. He comes from a middle school and he would never look down on another middle school, he said. That said, it’s likely he’ll also be in contact with more high-major or Power Five programs.
“There’s not too much going on yet,” Davis said.
This past season, Davis became the basketball program’s leading goal scorer of all time, passing Rashad Phillips and guaranteeing that his No. 0 will one day hang in the rafters of Calihan Hall. He led the Horizon League scoring all four seasons.
As a fourth-year senior, he averaged 23.9 points, which was number three in the nation. He was top four in the nation all four years. This year, he was named Co-Horizon League Player of the Year, and he shared the honor with Oakland’s Jamal Cain.
Davis enters the 2022-23 season as No. 22 in the all-time Division I scoring, and is poised to pass names like JJ Redick, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson and Danny Manning, among others. Pete Maravich is leading with 3,667 points; Davis is at 2,734.
However, the scoring record is not the only reason why he does not become a professional. He still wants to get stronger. The 6-foot-1 guard weighs only 165 pounds and that is after a big meal.
“You know it was a thought,” Davis said. “I feel like I honestly would play one more year of college basketball and just experience it somewhere else, just as much as I love Detroit Mercy.”
Davis is an electric 3-point shooter (113, fifth in the nation last season) and is one of the nation’s best free throw shooters (88.2% last season), who could stand in line to land a significant name, image and Likeness (NIL) deal at his next stop, depending on the stop. That’s something he’s probably never going to get in Detroit, given Detroit’s low profile these days. He was a star-studded player, and he originally committed to Houston before moving to Texas Southern, where Mike Davis was head coach.
When Mike Davis accepted the Detroit Mercy job in 2018 and replaced the fired Bacari Alexander, Antoine switched again to play for his father. It was technically not a package deal, but it worked that way for the Titans, who had 26-26 the last two seasons after two losing seasons in Davis’ first two years as head coach.
Antoine’s departure suddenly leaves a large staff plot for Mike, who is entering the final year of his contract. Mike Davis took each of his three former schools (Indiana, UAB, Texas Southern) to the NCAA Tournament – nine NCAA appearances in 18 years before Detroit Mercy – but has yet to get the Titans to the Big Dance. Detroit Mercy has not participated in the NCAA Tournament since 2012, three coaches ago.
With Davis’ departure, Detroit Mercy will rely more on striker Madut Akec, who averaged 12.7 points and seven rebounds, as well as guards Kevin McAdoo and DJ Harvey and swingman Noah Waterman.
“After much deliberation and deliberation, I have decided to enter the transfer portal,” Davis wrote on Twitter Thursday afternoon, before his phone call with The News. “I will always remember the University of Detroit Mercy and what it has done for me. I would not be in this position without the university giving me an opportunity as a student-athlete.
“I was honored to be a Titan and play in the Horizon League against amazing players and coaches, and I loved every second of being coached by my dad and brother.
“I have loved everything Detroit Mercy has given me from basketball to my education.
“I will always be a Titan.”
And for the record, no, Davis is not going to be a Golden Grizzly. Yes, Oakland head coach Greg Kampe recruited him very hard out of high school, but the switch to Detroit Mercy’s head rival is not going to happen.
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Twitter: @ tonypaul1984