UDM's Antoine Davis, battling Achilles injury, named Horizon League preseason POY

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Detroit Mercy star guard Antoine Davis is no stranger to lofty expectations. He gets them from his dad and coach, Mike Davis. He puts them on himself. And he gets them from those throughout the college basketball world.

On Tuesday, Davis was named the Horizon League's preseason player of the year for the second time in his four years with the Titans. He also earned the honor in 2019.

Davis' Titans, meanwhile, were picked to finish fifth in the 12-team league, in the poll voted on by school information directors and select media members. The Titans finished 12-10 last season, but won 10 of their last 12 regular-season games, and advanced to the Horizon League tournament quarterfinals, where they lost to Northern Kentucky in heartbreaking fashion.

Detroit Mercy guard Antoine Davis is the second leading returning scorer in the country.

That late-season surge led to some in Horizon League circles believing Detroit Mercy could soon find itself in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012. Mike Davis isn't downplaying those expectations.

"We're more talented than we've ever been," said Davis, entering his fourth year as head coach.

"We've got some guys."

Guy 1A, of course, is Antoine Davis, who's led the conference in scoring all three years, and last season was third in the nation, averaging 24 points. He's averaged 3.85 made 3-pointers per game during his college career, which ranks fifth in NCAA history. He finished last season making 51 consecutive free throws.

He's 279 points from Rashad Phillips' career scoring record, and 874 points from the conference scoring record, marks he should and could, respectively, reach this year if he's healthy.

Davis has been battling an Achilles injury in both legs since late last season and was shut down for conditioning purposes in August. He returned to practice this month.

"He's gotta get stronger," Mike Davis said.

Earlier this week, Davis was named to the Bob Cousy Award Watch List; the award goes to the top point guard in Division I men's basketball.

Among Davis' bandmates: swingman Noah Waterman, who came on huge after he finally was cleared to play last season following his transfer from Niagara; guard Matt Johnson, the reigning Horizon League sixth man of the year; guard Kevin McAdoo, a graduate transfer from Bradley who also played at Eastern Michigan and is the son of Kevin McAdoo, the program's all-time assist leader; and several other transfers, including DJ Harvey, a swingman and graduate student who previously played at Vanderbilt and Notre Dame.

In being ranked fifth, Detroit Mercy was one spot ahead of rival Oakland, which, led by guard Jalen Moore, the nation's leading assist man last season, were picked to finish sixth. Oakland, bidding for its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011, lost in last season Horizon League championship game.

Moore, with Davis, was named to the preseason Horizon League first team for the Golden Grizzlies who were 12-18 last season, but started the season 0-9.

The rivals play Wednesday, Jan. 5, at Calihan Hall, and Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 13, at the O'rena.

In the women's preseason poll, voted on by the head coaches, Oakland was fifth and Detroit Mercy 12th. Oakland guard Kahlaijah Dean was named first team.

Men's poll

First-place votes in parentheses

1. Cleveland State (30)

2. Wright State (9)

3. Northern Kentucky (1)

4. Milwaukee (2)

5. Detroit Mercy (2)

6. Oakland

7. Youngstown State

8. Illinois-Chicago

9. Purdue-Fort Wayne

10. Robert Morris

11. Green Bay


Women's poll

1. IUPUI (11)

2. Milwaukee

3. Green Bay (1)

4. Northern Kentucky

5. Oakland

6. Cleveland State

T7. Wright State

T7. Youngstown State

9. Robert Morris

10. Illinois-Chicago

11. Purdue-Fort Wayne

12. Detroit Mercy

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984