With the NCAA loosening transfer restrictions last year, college sports teams across the country have seen an unprecedented face turnover.
Nowhere has the impact been more evident than in men’s basketball, where more than 1,000 players have tried to change schools.
Between incoming transfers and freshmen, Missouri is expected to have eight new players on its roster this fall. Starting this week, the Missourian will analyze the roster changes, player by player, starting with junior guard Amari Davis.
Who is he?
The Trotwood, Ohio and Green Bay native transfer was the first offseason acquisition for Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin. Davis will be one of four incoming MU transfers. He and his transfer partner Jarron Coleman both won the conference Rookie of the Year in their respective leagues in 2019-20 (Davis in the Horizon League, Coleman in the Mid-American Conference).
The two-time All-Horizon League player was able to quickly emerge for his former team as a reference scorer. In his freshman year, he scored 15.9 points per game and was second on his team in usage rate.
Davis re-compiled Green Bay’s second-highest usage rate in his sophomore year, this time while leading Phoenix in minutes. He scored 17.5 points per game on his way to another conference season.
Davis’ style of play is definitely a blast from the past. The left-handed scorer operates almost exclusively in the midrange, a shot that is frowned upon by modern basketball analytics. In the Horizon League, he was able to reach his left hand at will, showing a variety of finishes at the rim.
Where the guard will need to improve the most is shooting from beyond the arc. He didn’t make a triple in his freshman season, and while that total jumped to 23 last season, those shots only converted to 28%.
How he fits in with the Tigers
Like Coleman, Davis will provide much-needed backcourt experience for an underperforming team in that department. With the departure of top shooters Dru Smith and Xavier Pinson, Davis should have plenty of room to contribute this season.
The guard has something Missouri didn’t have in 2020-21: the ability to create his own shot. Too many times last season, late-shot clock situations led to poor three-point shots for the Tigers.
There should be some concern that Davis will have a hard time creating his own shot against top athletes in the SEC. But Martin has been successful in developing intermediate guards like Dru Smith and Kassius Robertson.
Where Davis will have to improve if Missouri wants to return to the NCAA Tournament is with his jump shot and his ability to make plays. His career average of 1.7 assists per game must also improve, to help address MU’s backcourt exodus.
For a team that could have trouble getting the ball in the basket in 2021-22, Davis will be a welcome addition to the team, either as a starter or as a source of instant offense from the bench.