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Muskegon's Davis wins Mr. Basketball

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Deyonta Davis of Muskegon High             receives the 35th Mr. Basketball award.

Detroit — Deyonta Davis watched his Muskegon teammate Deshaun Thrower develop into an outstanding player and leader, took it all in and followed him as a Mr. Basketball award-winner.

Thrower led Muskegon to the Class A state championship last year as a floor leader and captain and, on the way, earned the title of Mr. Basketball.

Davis took over where Thrower left off, leading Muskegon to a 23-1 record and a spot in Tuesday's state quarterfinals against Lansing Everett at Lansing Eastern.

Davis, a 6-foot-9 center, was already an impact player last year, setting the single-season state record for blocks (199) while averaging 15 points and 13 rebounds to help the Big Reds earn their first state title since 1937.

Davis increased his production — averaging 18.5 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks — this season while becoming more of a vocal leader in the absence of Thrower.

"This is the greatest honor of my life," said Davis, who accepted the huge Mr. Basketball trophy in downtown Detroit on Monday afternoon in front of numerous reporters, family members and his head coach Keith Guy. "I salute Eric Davis and Trevor Manuel. They are great players and will be successful at Texas and Oregon."

When asked if he thought it would be possible to be named Mr. Basketball, Davis replied: "Yes, but it was up to the voters. I thought about it after I heard that Deshaun won it. I thought I could get it, too."

Davis received 70 percent of the first-place votes in voting by Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan members. He had 5,223 points, with Saginaw Arthur Hill's Davis (Texas) collecting 3,757 and Lansing Everett's Manuel (Oregon) at 2,837.

Davis, who will play next year at Michigan State, will be going head-to-head against Manuel in the quarterfinal.

"There's going to be a lot of intensity," Davis said of his showdown with Manuel. "I'm sure he'll try to prove a point that he should have been (named Mr. Basketball), but I'm going to fight. He's a good player. He can step out, he can dribble, he can rebound and block shots. "

Guy was thrilled to have players named Mr. Basketball in consecutive years, the first teammates since Derrick Nix (2009) and Keith Appling (2010) of Detroit Pershing. He talked about Davis' ability to come out of his shell and be more vocal.

"It's a blessing," Guy said of having Davis follow Thrower as Mr. Basketball award-winners. "It shows how far we've come in three years at Muskegon. The testament of hard work showed in Deshaun Thrower last year and Deyonta this year, and we had another one we felt was in the top 10 in Joeviair Kennedy. We're fortunate and blessed that we have these guys, to be able to coach them. I thought this was well deserved today.

"His body has really changed. He's put on 25 pounds so he weighs 230 now. He's more of a vocal leader. He's talking more in practice. He's talking on and off the floor with his teammates, joking. He's come out of his shell a little bit. You have to understand where he's come from to understand the improvement. The way he's attacked the game and approaches the game now. You can tell he's matured in his preparation. He's starting to take the next step to a college-bound athlete."

Davis feels fortunate to still be playing after Muskegon escaped with a quadruple-overtime win over Hudsonville last Wednesday in a regional final game. He played just 17 of 48 minutes, plagued with foul trouble, then fouling out with just under six minutes left in regulation.

"It shows that they're strong without me, but I was on the bench cheering them on, telling them where to go," Davis said.

"I tell you what, that was the most emotion that I've ever seen him show," Guy said. "From the bench he was pretty much telling guys what to do, cheering guys on, pumping his fist, clapping his hands and standing on his feet.

"It was good to watch and we made a big deal out of it the next day in practice because I wanted him to see that these guys rooted for you all year and you returned the favor. Sometimes it's not going to be your night and you have to be a good teammate whether it is or whether it's not."

Still, Guy wants Davis on the floor all 32 minutes when Muskegon takes on Everett.