Friar Basketball

Impressions from Tracking Jyare Davis

Jyare Davis

Maybe the worst thing to happen to Jalen Lindsey was an early growth spurt. Lindsey was one of the most highly regarded prospects in the country at a young age, getting Division 1 interest as early as 8th grade when he played varsity for Christ Presbyterian Academy (CPA) in Tennessee. He was 6’7 as a freshman, one of the top 20 players in the class of 2014 during his sophomore year, an all state player as a freshman, and ultimately remained a top 100 prospect who had a solid career at Providence.

Lindsey played in four straight NCAA Tournaments, and his junior year saw one of the best high usage/high efficiency seasons from beyond the arc in Providence history when he made 74 3-pointers at a 46% clip. Lindsey never evolved into an All Big East performer at PC, but he was a steady two-way player as an upperclassman. Still, he bore the brunt of criticism in a way most teammates hadn’t, and I can’t help but think it had to do with how highly regarded he was in high school (when Lindsey committed to PC he was ranked 32nd nationally by ESPN).

I played a role in inflating those expectations — tracking him beginning his sophomore year at CPA, interviewing his high school coach a year before he committed, and posting every last bit of news, from his national rankings to an eventual transfer to Huntington Prep.

I think of Lindsey when I hear Providence fans noting that Jyare Davis was an elite high school recruit as a freshman and sophomore in high school, or about his participation in USA Basketball, and most recently when reading one fan state they expect LaDontae Henton-type production from Davis. Henton is one of two 2000 point/1000 rebound players in program history and led the Big East in scoring as a senior.

That’s not to say Davis comes without credentials. He is the first player in Delaware history to be named 1st Team All State four times, and he played varsity basketball beginning in eighth grade. His national ranking was hindered by a knee injury that kept him out of AAU action for six months following his junior year of high school.

Throughout his senior season at Sanford, I watched a half dozen of Davis’ games and set out to provide realistic reports and full video clips (not just highlights) in covering the incoming PC freshman.

When Davis committed to Providence last January he was in the midst of playing through a brutal schedule against some of the best competition in the country.

Davis and his Sanford teammates went up against the likes of UConn commit Andre Jackson of Albany Academy, and a Roselle Catholic team featuring a slew of top 100 players. 

Davis and Co. took on a Montverde Academy group featuring Oklahoma State commit Cade Cunningham — perhaps the best player in the class of 2020. That team also included a Creighton commit in Ryan Nembhard, Florida State pledge Scottie Barnes, and future Tarheel Day’ron Sharpe. They were widely regarded as the best high school team in the country last season. 

What you will see below includes both the good and the bad from Davis in the games I watched. An increasing number of recruiting rundowns offer glowing reports that inevitably set impossibly high standards for incoming freshmen — which, in turn, lead to inevitable disappointment from the fanbase. I captured statistics and video as frequently as I could to offer as honest an assessment as possible.

Here are the games I watched over the past six months in chronological order. The videos should capture every field goal and free throw attempt he took. The only game that does not include every attempt is against Lake Clifton, as the media rights owner asked that I used fewer than two minutes worth of footage from that game. 

December 7, 2019 vs. Combine Academy (North Carolina)

This was perhaps Davis’ biggest struggle in the half-dozen games I witnessed — and it came in front of Ed Cooley and Jeff Battle. He finished with 15 points on 7-23 shooting from the field, with three of those makes coming in the final minute with the game out of reach. I had Davis down for 1-5 from 3-point range, and 0-2 at the free throw line. He started the game 1-9 from the field, with his make coming via a top of the key 3-pointer to give Sanford an early 3-0 lead.

Davis was not alone in struggling through this game. Sanford trailed 15-14 at the half, with junior center Nnanna Njoku (a Villanova commit and top 100 player in 2021) going scoreless in the first half.

The positive that stood out in this one was Davis’ ability to handle the ball for his size and play bigger than 6’7 in the interior. He is a nifty ball handler and drops off tricky bounce passes with regularity. After his first made 3-pointer, all of his scoring came in the paint. He had five points at halftime and got back on the board at the 3:06 mark of the third with a put-back. A minute later he tipped home a miss to push Sanford ahead 25-22. His final three field goals came at the rim with under a minute to play in the game with Combine Academy comfortably ahead.

Sanford fell in this one, 52-44. 

December 28, 2019 vs. Roselle Catholic (NJ) 

Sanford played a pair of good opponents in December’s Slam Dunk to the Beach, starting with an absolutely loaded Roselle Catholic team that featured a top 50 center in Cliff Omoyuri, impressive Xavier commit CJ Wilcher, Florida pledge Niels Lane, and class of 2022 prospect Corey Floyd Jr. (the son of former Friar Corey Floyd). 

Davis’ numbers weren’t pretty, but he played better than the box score showed.

The game was tied at 11 after the first quarter, but Roselle switched to a 3-2 zone in the second that baffled Sanford — so much so that they were shutout in the quarter. Roselle led 20-11 at halftime, with Davis missing his only two field goal attempts of the half (a 3 at the top of the key and a blocked shot inside). 

Roselle went on a 17-0 run between the second and third quarters to take a 28-11 advantage when Davis started to go to work. He knocked down a smooth fadeaway jumper to snap Roselle’s run and then scored twice more in short order. The next bucket came on a pretty drive after drawing his defender, and then he scored on a baseline drive and dunk.

Davis finished 3-12 from the field and 0-4 from deep, but Roselle’s defense was smothering, holding Sanford to 30% shooting from the field and 29% from three. Good shots were very hard to come by. Wilcher, the Xavier pledge, has the look of a big-time scorer, while Omoyuri is a force inside.

Roselle won 52-37. 

December 29, 2019 vs. Lake Clifton (MD)

Lake Clifton has produced some impressive talent over the past 10-15 years, including Will Barton and former DePaul star Cleveland Melvin, but they were no match for Sanford in December. Davis was as aggressive as I saw him all year, getting to the free throw line for 12 attempts in a 53-44 victory.

Davis scored 18 points and grabbed 10 boards, while making 5-13 from the field, 7-12 at the free throw line, and 1-3 from long range. He asserted his will on the interior in this game, alternating between sealing wings who attempted to front him in the paint and simply bullying defenders by backing them down in post up situations. He showed very good hands, both in grabbing passes in mid-air and rebounding in traffic. 

He was simply a bully in this game, finishing through fouls and getting wherever he wanted inside.

January 10, 2020 vs. Salesianum (DE)

Salesianum, where former Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo starred, was no match physically for Sanford. The Warriors shot the lights out from deep and appeared to enjoy rolling over their in-state foe.

Davis connected on all three of his shots in the first half — a corner three, dunking off of a lob, and getting to the rim with ease for a layup. Sanford led 33-22 at halftime and Salesianum would not threaten in the second half.

Davis didn’t find his shot in limited attempts in the third. He front rimmed a 3-pointer, back rimmed another three, and missed both of his attempts at the free throw line. The fourth quarter showed what makes Davis a solid prospect, however, as he overpowered a defender on a post opportunity and finished twice after sweet Eurosteps late.

He finished 6-9 from the field, scoring 13 points in an easy 61-45 victory.

January 18, 2020 vs. Albany Academy (NY)

At the prestigious Hoophall Classic, all of the hype pregame was about UConn’s athletic marvel Andre Jackson, a top 50 recruit in the class of 2020. Davis was named MVP of this game though, as Sanford rolled to a victory behind Davis’ 18 points, five rebounds, and two assists. Njoku finished with 14 points and nine boards in the win.

Here are my notes from an article I published while watching that game in January:

Sanford led 21-9 after the first quarter. Davis made two of his three shots from the field, which included an open 3-pointer and a strong drive from beyond the arc. His lone miss came off of a pull-up just inside the 3-point line. Jackson, the UConn commit, did not score in the opening quarter and missed a handful of shots.

The second quarter belonged to Jackson, who finished on a pair of alley oops, threw down a vicious one-handed slam in transition, and showed a pretty Eurostep. Sanford led 34-31 at the break and the most impressive player on the floor might have been Nnanna Njoku, Sanford’s 6’10, 245 pound center. Njoku is a top 125 player who Providence offered last summer. What stood out most was his soft shooting touch from the free throw line and when facing up — shades of Ben Bentil, another Delaware native. Njoku is part of the class of 2021.

Albany appeared to be taking control of this one late in the third quarter. They had all of the momentum and led, 41-39, with about two minutes left in the quarter. That’s when Sanford countered with 3-pointers on three straight possessions. Davis grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled just before the end of the quarter, and made 1-2 at the line to put Sanford up 49-41 after three.

Sanford blew the game open in the fourth quarter, pushing their advantage to 17 points. The best sequence of the game for Davis came when he was fouled shooting a jump shot. He made the first free throw, grabbed his own miss on the second, and scored inside. On the ensuing possession, Davis finished with power at the rim for an and-1. He is a strong wing who did not force anything offensively against an Albany team that spent a majority of the day in zone.

(Eric) Bossi was not high on Jackson, but there were certain things he did in this one that you can’t teach — specifically, athletically. He had a few misses from beyond the arc that barely grazed the rim, but made two deep ones. His athleticism in transition jumped out, however.

Sanford won 74-63.

Overview: It’s easy to see why Davis was identified for Cooley’s system by assistant coach Jeff Battle. He is Cooley’s prototypical wing in many ways — he is physical for a small forward, comfortable playing in the paint and absorbing contact, handles the ball well for his size, and is a good rebounder. The part of his game that surprised me most was his ability to pass. He plays with poise, very rarely forcing his own offense. 

And every once in a while he’ll flash moves like this:

I was hoping to see Sanford against Montverde due to the sheer star power on the floor at the City of Palms Tournament, but could not find it online. Davis later exploded at that tournament when he scored 29 points in an overtime win over Riverview.

I watched him in five full games, and he struggled at the free throw line and was inconsistent in shooting from both mid-range and beyond the arc, but he is skilled with the ball in his hands. My sense is that the staff sees a prospect with good hands, ball handling and rebounding ability whose development is contingent on his ability to shoot with consistency and play with more explosion after spending time in a college weight room. Both Jared Terrell and Donovan Mitchell were one-time Providence recruits who were more athletes than shooters, but eventually became good shooters with time and effort. 

If he can begin to draw defenders to him, Davis can further use his dribbling skill, body control while in the air, and willingness to either initiate contact or drop off bounce passes with effectiveness at the next level.

* I want to thank Position Sports and 302 Sports for the video included in this article. 

You must be logged in to post a comment Login