Spartans' Davis slides to 31st pick by Celtics
New York – Expected to go in the first half of the first round of Thursday’s NBA Draft, Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis instead to the second round, though the fall was a quick one.
With the 31st overall pick and first of the second round, the Boston Celtics selected the 6-foot-10 Davis and then traded him to Memphis.
Davis, who left Michigan State after just one season, endured a difficult few hours as the named came off the board and he remained. He was the only player in the NBA’s green room at the Barclays Center that did not get selected in the first round and he and his party left the room just before the 30th and final selection of the first round was announced.
“The pick doesn't mean anything,” Davis said. “It's how you come out and play. I'm just going to play with a chip on my shoulder.”
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who was at the draft with both Davis and senior guard Denzel Valentine – he went No. 14 overall to Chicago – worked the phones throughout the first round and consulted often with Davis.
"He was just motivating me, telling me to stay positive, keep my head up," Davis said of Izzo.
Davis averaged 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds as a freshman, while starting 16 of the final 17 games of the season. He set a Michigan State freshman record with 64 blocks, ranking second on the Spartan single-season chart. He is one of just three Spartan freshmen to record a double-double in his Michigan State debut.
Davis said on Wednesday that the decision to leave Michigan State after one season was an easy one.
“It wasn’t (difficult) at all,” Davis said, “because I had all the support I needed.”
The feedback Davis received after the season clinched his decision and in early April he made the choice to declare for the draft and hire an agent.
In Memphis, Davis will join Zach Randolph, another one-and-done player from the Izzo era at Michigan State. Izzo has now had 17 players drafted and nine in the first round after Valentine’s selection.
When asked what he brings to his new team, Davis said: "A player that wants to win, a hard-working player, and a player that is not a problem child."
Davis was praised this week by ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, but he cautioned that Davis has a long way to go to develop into a top-notch NBA player
“He is not an offensive player yet, so he needs more development in that area,” Bilas said. “But as a rebounder, as a shot blocker, as a guy that can run the floor, and then especially an offensive rebounder, he's got a lot of value.
“The question is he's got a distance to travel in his development. And this is just me talking now. I mean, I think in order to be a great player, you have -- the same steps are needed now that were needed 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago. It's just where are you going to take those steps, are you going to take them in college or are you going to take them while you're getting a paycheck in the pros?
"The question is how hard is he going to work. And if he works at it, he's got the ability to be really, really good because he's young and he's got a lot of talent.”