East Lansing, MI
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has one of college basketballâ€™s premier freshmen in big man Deyonta â€œDDâ€ Davis. The youngster is averaging 17 minutes a game while playing in all 15 Spartan contests and starting none of those. He also is averaging 8.3 pts per game and adding to it, he is grabbing 5.2 rebounds a game and is averaging just over two blocked shots per game. To say it plainly, he might be Izzo best true freshman ever.
That being said Izzo has taken some criticism from fans for not playing Davis more and even starting him. That criticism befuddles me with Matt Costello and Gavin Schilling on the roster fighting Davis for minutes.
That said Izzo opened up about his star young center this week saying that, â€œDD is getting better, too. Iâ€™m sure people are wondering. I get asked about playing him more and more and more and we are trying. Thereâ€™s thing he does really well. Thereâ€™s something things he still struggles with. For some reason, heâ€™s got great hands, but the ball went through his hands a couple of critical plays the other night. Iâ€™ve seen some big strides in his â€“ not in just his play, but his understanding and his want to get better. Thatâ€™s been really, really good.â€
While fans know DD from his immense basketball talent, what they donâ€™t get to see and I do is that DD doesnâ€™t have the star mentality and todayâ€™s entitlement mindset that is prevalent. He is hungry to get better and willing to be coached. I asked Izzo about that side of the young man.
â€œWell, DD is really great kid. He had a very good high school coach. I think DD has grown in leaps and bounds if I think about the one that came in in July and the one thatâ€™s here right now. Part of it, too, is us and when you have smaller guards, you go with bigger inside guys. But when three-fourths of the country, at least so far that weâ€™veÂ played â€“ it would be nice to play Kansas again because they were more of the traditional. Then you play some of those smaller schools, but even some Big Ten schools now, where it sounds crazy, you might be better against Purdue than you are against Iowa just because if the matchups thing with the personnel we have right now. If we can get Marvin Clark healthy and back - between the back and now the foot - I think would help us. Kenny has helped us some. But what weâ€™re working on now with D.D. is playing more four, being able to guard more guys on the perimeter, being able to move your feet, get around screens. Remember now, he went from being kind of a Shaq in high school that stood there in the middle and blocked shots to having to do a lot of different things. He is making great progress.â€
Izzo talked about Davis lack of ego, â€œI think he has no big ego. I think his wanting to learn, part of that is he likes his teammates. Matt, Denzel and Tum have done such a great job with him, trying to help him in things. And heâ€™s appreciative of it. So good coaching in high school, no ego, he is progressing and he is going to be a hell of a player before weâ€™re done here this year - not next year - this year.â€
This Spartan team has a very high upside. I think they have to be a favorite for the Final Four unless major injuring side tracks them. You might want Davis to play more or start, but you can be rest assured about this one thing.
If MSU goes where they expect and should, who cares who starts, DD will be a critical part and he isnâ€™t pouting wanting to start. He just wants to get better and is a rare player with amazing God given talent and a work ethic that would make Draymond Green proud.
The kid is special. Very special and what makes it nice is that he is a better young man than a basketball player.