Hoops Hello: Austin Davis Comment Count

Brian April 17th, 2015 at 12:09 PM


Last night Michigan picked up a commit from in-state 2016 C Austin Davis, a guy I don't think many people knew Michigan was even tracking. That, his currently-thin recruiting profile, and, frankly, his ears, have a certain brand of Michigan fan headed to Ann Arbor Torch and Pitchfork about this development.

I mean…

…stop it. If there is a place where any Michigan coach has earned public opinion leeway, it is John Beilein recruiting three-star basketballists.


Scout Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
3*, UR 3*, UR 3*, #27 C, #5 MI NR --

Davis is on the sites' radars as a generic three star center, but only just.


Davis is consistently listed at 6'10" and depending on when you get the article, at anywhere from 240 to 260—he'll come in looking more like Ricky Doyle than DJ Wilson.

He is consistently among the FG% leaders at AAU tournaments, hitting 62% at "Unrivaled" in Chicago and 65% at the "Gauntlet" in Dallas just last week. There he impressed a number of observers. SpartanMag's Paul Konyndyk after Davis put up 16 and 10 (on ten shots) against Ike Anigbogu, who was just offered by UCLA:

That performance was among the best of the weekend for Davis, who outplayed rising Corona (CA) Centennial center Ike Anigbogu, who scored just seven points against the Mustangs. …

Davis is a skilled big man with good footwork, solid post moves, and the ability to finish with either hand. It is only a matter of time before the small school standout begins pilling up major conference offers.

That performance was just a couple days ago and got a lot of major schools' attention. Vandy's 247 site said to keep an eye on him as a "highly skilled post" who was "highly effective" and that the Commodores were intrigued. A Northwestern writer also highlighted him:

“He just gets [stuff] done,” said one assistant coach who watched Davis’ 16-point, 10-rebound, three-block game against the Compton Magic.

Davis isn’t the most athletic player or elite in any one area, but he’s a productive all-around player. He showed soft hands with the ball, and good touch on his hook shots. A handful of his points against the Magic came in 1-on-1 battles against Ike Anigbogu, one of the best post defenders on the Adidas circuit. Davis flashed good footwork on a hook shot against Anigbogu, and also beat him on the block a couple times.

On multiple occasions during the weekend’s games, Davis got the ball just outside the paint and patiently worked around a defender into the paint to score. He also scored several times in in back-to-the-basket situations, putting the ball on the floor and finishing nicely.

He was just 2 of 9 from the free throw line at the Gauntlet, so that's a thing to work on.

Davis is a pound-it-inside, power-dribble, finish from the block kind of guy. Sam Webb($):

Davis is a 6-10, 245 lb. throwback big.  He is a true back-to-the-basket big man.  On the in-state basketball scene he has earned the nickname “Big Country” after former Oklahoma State and then Vancouver Grizzlies standout Bryant “Big Country” Reeves. Davis lives in the paint, is best scoring over his left shoulder but has occasionally shown the ability to score over his right, can beat opponents with a good drop step as well, and has good hands in the post.

Davis himself on his proficiency down low

What they saw was a guy that was really comfortable down on the blocks, where he showed he could finish well with either hand.

"My low post game has always been my major strength," said Davis. "I'm trying to improve my shooting. To be able step up and shoot threes a little bit. I've gotten better with high post jumpers."

He's working and working and working and putting things on the internet. He's also pretty aware of his deficiencies and what he has to do to remedy them:

“I definitely need to improve speed,” Davis said. “My foot quickness, stuff like that. I need to get into better shape. Those are a lot of the main areas, and just continuing to progress and getting stronger.”

Davis also spoke with Balanis about similarities he shares with Irish forward Zach Auguste and the strengths of his game.

“I’d consider myself very strong with my back to the basket and in the low post,” Davis said. “We’ve worked on expanding my game to be able to face up and my jump shot.”

Davis is also young. He is currently 16 and won't turn 17 until the end of the summer, so he'll arrive on campus days after hitting 18.


Michigan was the first major school to offer Davis; before that he had MAC offers and interest from big chunks of the Big Ten and Notre Dame. He took unofficials to Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa in addition to the in-state schools. Perusing various 247 content gives the impression that Wisconsin assistant Greg Gard was a major proponent of the guy. Gard is a good guy to have in your corner if you're a gawky high school post.


Davis is Class B Shaq:

The junior scored 45 points in a game on two occasions, and even had a triple-double with 33 points, 27 rebounds and 10 blocks. His averages of 26.2 points, 17.3 rebounds and 4.8 blocks per game earned him AP Class B Player of the Year honors in Michigan, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

Davis also had a 3.95 GPA as of last year.


There's a ton, from workouts when he was a freshman to Davis being high school Shaq at 6'2" guys going pro in something other than sports to full Onsted Wildcats games. In the Class B regional finals against Milan he opens the game with a missed dunk on an alley-oop.

This went up in January and is amongst the most recent:

This is from last summer:

As is this:

This went up in November:

The video shows a mostly below-the-rim big, and while this is highlight tape you can get some hints of things he does well. He makes a number of tough catches in these videos; he finishes with both hands from in a variety of situations; he seems to have good footwork with which to reposition for layups after a power dribble.


Posts are tough to project and Davis is tougher than most because of the level of competition he generally goes against. He'll probably take a redshirt and hit Camp Sanderson, whereupon the sluggishness that does show up on film (and is something Davis himself points out as his most pressing issue) should be mitigated. How much? I don't know. I do like bigs with good hands and the ability to finish with either.

With Doyle and Donnal in front of him plus Teske, Michigan can let Davis develop until he's a redshirt sophmore, whereupon he should have a productive, Jordan-Morgan-esque career.


Michigan's going to have a lot of fouls to give at the five, I guess? They are currently scheduled to have this setup at center in 2016-17:

  • Doyle, Jr.
  • Donnal, Jr.*
  • Teske, Fr.
  • Davis, Fr.

And that's not even counting DJ Wilson, who could well be skrong like bull by then. So this is a weird commitment given the composition of Michigan's roster. I do like the prospect of a parade of upper-class bigs. It's likely that one of Teske or Davis ends up redshirting, which is a good thing for a project big who isn't likely to be on NBA radars. See: Jordan Morgan.

They have two scholarships definitely opening up (Albrecht and LeVert) from guards; they have filled those slots with posts. If they thought someone was transferring—which Beilein has explicitly said isn't happening and Webb re-asserted just today($)—they probably would have taken a swing at 2015 big Mike Edwards. Instead Edwards committed to Georgia after Michigan got Moritz Wagner.

There's almost certainly going to be some additional attrition that opens up a slot or two (Hatch, Irvin to the NBA, maybe guys who get lost in the shuffle this year) with which Michigan pursues a point guard and one of their 6'6" SG/SF archetypes. I would imagine post recruiting is done until 2018.



April 17th, 2015 at 3:13 PM ^

Morgan ran well but everyone's memories are of SR Morgan.  He had serious struggles at times as a SO and JR.  I remember his hands being of stone early in his career too.  You can't just compare to a guy in his last 15 games at UM. 

Morgan had a weird career - came in as a RS FR and did VERY well, and then ended very well as a RS SR in the back half of the season.  Much of his RS SO, RS JR and first part of RS SR year were struggles.


April 17th, 2015 at 1:01 PM ^

But that might not be totally necessary. In 2016 we'll have Walton, Irvin, MAAR and Dawkins, plus one more guard since I doubt Hatch will still be on scholarship by then. That's plenty, and we can replace Walton and Irvin with 2017 wings/guards. If one of them leaves after next season, you get your wish about 2016.

Artichokes Anonymous

April 17th, 2015 at 12:45 PM ^

Hard to tell a lot from the clips due to competition, but he seems like he does everything well. I'm surprised by his 2-9 FT at the tournament. I know these are highlights only but he looks comfortable shooting and has the confidence of his coach.

I too am surprised by the timing of offer/commitment as it pertains to the recruting cycle. Perhaps Beilein wanted to get the offer out early but didn't expect a commitment this soon?


April 17th, 2015 at 1:23 PM ^

Something tells me he is still growing into his body physically, and there's a lot of "expected projection" with this offer. Didn't the same thing happen with Teske who is now a unanimous four star still on the rise?

I understand everyone's "freak out" with this pick-up, but 2016 is still a long ways away. This kid could be just on the verge of turning the corner as he's still developing that big body, and we could be extremely pumped about him in a year.

I'm doing a wait and see with this guy. Sounds like he's about to blow up, so I'm not too worried yet.


April 17th, 2015 at 12:49 PM ^

Anyone else starting to get the sense that Beilein just can't shake his Kevin Pittsnogle infatuation?  It's like he's trying to amass the Pittsnogle clone army on the team.


April 17th, 2015 at 12:50 PM ^

Trust in JB? I think while everyone is aware that JB has a keen eye for talent, we must not forget that the Team that made the Finals was not possible without GR3 and Mcgary both of whom are borderline 5 star talent. I m disappointed that we hv not been able to parlay that final appearance into a Top3 Big Ten recruiting power house ( we r still lagging behind OSU, IU and MSU). I m still excited and hopeful in JB's leadership but I wd hv prefered to hv gotten the likes of Booker, Swanigan and Thornton.

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April 17th, 2015 at 1:47 PM ^

I believe that if JB is given the annual talent that Kentucky, Kansas, UNC and Duke gets, we would be an annual Final Four contender. If he continues to recruit under radar talents, we wd be a Final Four threat once every 4 yrs when those kids develop...

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April 17th, 2015 at 3:20 PM ^

That's a silly hypothetical since it is not going to happen.  But it is right to say what would happen if Beilein was given UCLA, OSU, Arizona type talent evey year.  I see no reason UM cannot recruit at those levels.

I don't know how much recruiting has to do with the head honcho vs assistants in bball - i.e. how impactful an assistant can be.  But if it can be anything like in football where an ace recruiter can really bring in the bacon it might be worth trying to find some dude who is just a ridiculous salesmen to balance out this staff.


April 17th, 2015 at 3:32 PM ^

that Jeff Meyer was killing it in Indiana with the run of McGary, GRIII, Irvin and Bacari was doing work to the point where we had two classes in a row that were right up there with the best. But that recruiting momentum has surprisingly tapered off a bit. I figured it would have sustained after Beilien demonstrated such excellent player development skills. Good thing he's still the best identifier of undervalued talent.

Go Blue in MN

April 17th, 2015 at 12:53 PM ^

Glad to have you coming to AA to wear the Maize and Blue. 

I love his GPA.  Nice to see a balanced write-up of his abilities instead of last night's freak-out thread.


April 17th, 2015 at 12:57 PM ^

In considering open scholarships (for both 16 and 17), is it possible that Spike needs a medical redshirt? I'm hearing he may need a second surgery and that could push back his predicted recovery time. If he does need to redshirt, does that open up a slot for this year's class? And, does that limit the available slots next year?


April 17th, 2015 at 1:26 PM ^

Ben Cronin: Injuries ended his career

Blake McLimans: I'll give you this one

Jordan Morgan: Poster child for Beileining

Jon Horford: Seemed to get better, but something was off

Evan Smotrycz: Transferred, but improved scoring, rebounding and shooting from FR to SO at UM. Contributor at Maryland

Max Bielfeldt: Improved into a functional rotation player

Mark Donnal: Freshman

Ricky Doyle: Freshman


April 17th, 2015 at 1:56 PM ^

Cronin didn't look like he was set to blow up, and Donnal barely saw the floor.  But Doyle is looking like a quality player.

Anyways, out of the other players there, you have one that turned into a decent player, and the "poster child for Beileining" didn't even make All B1G honorable mention.  Morgan was a great "glue" guy who directed the defense very well, but he never rose above "competent".


April 17th, 2015 at 1:21 PM ^

Morgan and Horford (before Horford got NBA delusions and transfered) were solid at the 5 for a Beilein offense. It's too early to tell for Donnal, but I agree it hasn't looked promising. Ricky Doyle doesn't belong on your list at all. He's not a star yet, but a guy capable of giving you 12 and 10 on any given night in college basketball is worth having on your team.

Hardware Sushi

April 17th, 2015 at 1:31 PM ^

Unless I'm missing your point, this is an asinine comment. Morgan was a strong 5 that helped anchor the team to 2 Big Ten titles and the last guys on your list will be sophomores next season. Smotrcyz wasn't a 5. Beifeldt is 6-7 with thick legs, what did you expect from him?

Yes, no 3-star-to-NBA guys on the list but unless you're 6-10+ and hyper athletic with no skills coming out of high school, chances are you aren't going to be a 3 star to NBA first rounder. And most guys that fit that description end up as four stars just because there aren't many of those guys around in the first place.


April 17th, 2015 at 2:59 PM ^

If your point is that Beilein will take one in three of his 3* big men recruits and turn them into valuable role players, I will certainly grant that.

However, the Beilein magic we generally are referring to means taking a high 3* or low 4* and making them B1G  player of the year candidates.

No big man Beilein has coached at Michigan has taken the career arc of Trey Burke, Nik Stauskas, Tim Hardaway, Darius Morris, or Caris Levert.  Not even close.


April 17th, 2015 at 3:55 PM ^

Another point would be that Stauskas, Hardaway, and GRIII weren't as highly rated when the were pursued by M, but ended up as mid-to-high 4-stars by the time they came to AA. In the 2016 class already, Teske has emerged into a top100 player and still rising.
I agree with others that there is still a need for (at least) 1 more guard in 2016 (or 2015) but this shows (imo) a plan to try to field a legit-sized player at both the 4 and 5 in the future....something that may also appeal to recruits like Irvin in the future knowing they don't have to guard the 4 at UM. (We know this was an issue with GRIII and Irvin can't exactly loved being banged-up as a 4 either.)


April 17th, 2015 at 1:12 PM ^

I wonder if Beilein looks at a guy like this, sees some things he likes and figures that best case scenario, the guy blossoms into Beilein's ideal and worst case scenario, he transfers after 2-3 years for more PT. 

I'm not saying that as a dig on anyone, I just wonder if that is part of the thought process. 


April 17th, 2015 at 1:12 PM ^

Eh, none of us may understand this move, but we also will never understand more about basketball than Beilein has already forgotten, so let's see what this kid does when he gets to Ann Arbor.


April 17th, 2015 at 1:18 PM ^

Davis is oozing with potential: young for his grade, already 6'10, and pretty good coordination. I like him a lot under Beilein and he should be on campus for multiple years giving him ample time to develop. He'll be intriguing to follow