MSU’s Davis on draft: ‘I expected (to go) early’

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Deyonta Davis

New York — Sometime around 11 Thursday night, Deyonta Davis had to be wondering if he’d made the right choice.

After one season at Michigan State, the 6-foot-10 forward decided it was time to head to the NBA. It wasn’t a remarkable freshman season — he averaged 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in 18.6 minutes while starting 16 of the final 17 games.

Apparently, it was enough for those putting together mock drafts to believe Davis was a top-15 pick.

Most analysts were starting to list Davis somewhere in the middle of the first round, and with Davis’ size and athleticism, it seemed logical the NBA — a league that drafts as much out of unknown labeled as potential more than any other pro league — would agree.

As each name was announced Thursday, however, Davis’ head dropped lower and lower.

With one pick left in the first round, Davis and his party in the green room got up and left the arena floor at Barclays Center. The frustration was clear on the face of the only player in the room not to be selected in the first round.

He was back a few minutes later as the Celtics called his name at No. 31 — the first pick of the second round — and traded his rights to the Grizzlies.

He tried to sound positive, even when asked if the process was frustrating.

“I expected (to go) early,” Davis said. “But the pick doesn’t matter.”

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was there. He’d been there to celebrate with Denzel Valentine when the senior guard went No. 14 overall to the Bulls.

And, Izzo was there to work the phones and try and keep the spirits up for one of his few one-and-done players.

He called it a cautionary tale for freshman deciding to leave after one season.

Spartans' Davis slides to 31st pick by Celtics

Ten freshmen were taken in the first round Thursday, but Izzo didn’t say it’s the only tale, simply one to think about when deciding whether to leave college early. After all, 30 underclassmen weren’t drafted.

The draft is not an exact science. It’s why Valentine jumped in the air and let out a yell when his name was called. It’s right about where he was projected.

As for Davis, he didn’t say much.

And while being taken 31st overall isn’t much different than 30th, it is when you consider Davis does not have the luxury of a first-round guaranteed contract.

It’s not the only thing that matters, though. Draymond Green went from second-round pick to NBA champion and multi-millionaire with a long-term deal.

In Memphis, Davis will have a shot to mold all the potential into the type of player that sticks in the league. He’ll be able to work on the offensive game fans got a glimpse of last season, and he’ll almost certainly become and better defender. He’ll also have the benefit of working with Zach Randolph, a former one-and-done Spartans player.