'I feel like I did my time here': Antoine Davis to play fifth season, but not at Detroit
Detroit — It's been a rather long waiting game with Antoine Davis: Will he stay or will he go?
Turns out, he will go — but he won't go pro.
Davis, who starred at Detroit Mercy for four years and became the program's all-time leading scorer, said Thursday he will enter the transfer portal and play a fifth (COVID) season at another school. Antoine leaves behind his dad, Mike, the Titans' head coach, and brother, Mike Jr., an assistant coach.
Davis made the announcement on social media, sending shock waves through mid-major basketball circles.
"It wasn't 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 did my time here. I feel like I've done so much for this university, you know? Just felt like it was time to explore some options."
Now the most burning question — What was dad's reaction?
"He was OK with it," Antoine said. "He just wants me to do whatever makes me happy.
"At the end of the day, yeah, he's my coach, but he's my father first."
Mike Davis wasn't immediately available for comment.
Davis, 23, said he hasn't spoken to other programs yet — certainly, his phone is about to blow up — and, interestingly, he said he's not ruling out playing for another mid-major program. He comes from a mid-major and he'd never look down at another mid-major school, he said. That said, it's likely he will be in touch with several high-majors or Power Five programs, too.
"Not too much in the works yet," Davis said.
This past season, Davis became the basketball program's all-time leading scorer, passing Rashad Phillips and guaranteeing his No. 0 will one day hang in the rafters at Calihan Hall. He led the Horizon League in scoring all four seasons.
As a fourth-year senior, he averaged 23.9 points, which ranked third 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, sharing the honor with Oakland's Jamal Cain.
Davis will enter the 2022-23 season ranked 22nd in all-time Division I scoring, and is poised to pass names such as JJ Redick, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson and Danny Manning, among others. Pete Maravich is the leader with 3,667 points; Davis is at 2,734.
The scoring record is not the only reason he's not going pro, however. He still wants to get stronger. The 6-foot-1 guard is only 165 pounds, and that's after a big meal.
"You know, it was a thought," Davis said. "I feel like I wanted to honestly play one more year of college basketball and just experience it somewhere else, as much as I love Detroit Mercy."
Davis is an electric 3-point shooter (113, fifth in the nation this past season) and is one of the country's best free-throw shooters (88.2% this past season) who could be in line to land a significant Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deal at his next stop, depending on the stop. That's something he likely was never going to get at Detroit, considering Detroit's low profile these days. A star prep player, he originally committed to Houston before switching to Texas Southern, where Mike Davis was head coach.
When Mike Davis accepted the Detroit Mercy job in 2018, replacing fired Bacari Alexander, Antoine switched again to play for his dad. It wasn't technically a package deal, but it worked out that way for the Titans, who were 26-26 the past two seasons after two losing seasons in Davis' first two years as head coach.
Antoine's departure, all of a sudden, leaves a major personnel void for Mike, who has three years left on his contract. Mike Davis took each of his three previous schools (Indiana, UAB, Texas Southern) to the NCAA Tournament — nine NCAA appearances in 18 years before Detroit Mercy — but hasn't yet gotten the Titans to the Big Dance. Detroit Mercy hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 2012, three coaches ago.
With Davis' departure, Detroit Mercy will rely more heavily on forward Madut Akec, who averaged 12.7 points and seven rebounds, as well as guards Kevin McAdoo and DJ Harvey, and swingman Noah Waterman. But it's going to take more than one player to replace Davis, including some new recruits, ideally transfers.
"After much thought and consideration, I have decided to enter the transfer portal," Davis wrote on Twitter on 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 wouldn't 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 great players and coaches, and I loved every second of being coached by my dad and brother.
"I have loved everything Detroit Mercy has provided me from basketball to my education.
"I will always be a Titan."
And, for the record, no, Davis won't be becoming a Golden Grizzly. Yes, Oakland head coach Greg Kampe recruited him very hard out of high school, but the switch to Detroit Mercy's chief rival isn't going to happen.
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