Mike Davis (6-9, 210, F) was one of the most improved players in the Big Ten Conference last season. He was second on the Illini in scoring and third in the Big Ten in rebounding last winter. He led the conference with nine double-doubles and 11 double-digit rebounding performances on the season. The second-team All-Big Ten selection by coaches (Third-team pick by media) also made the Big Ten All-Tournament Team and improved his scoring average by about nine points this past year.
Davis will need to make similar strides this year if he hopes to consider leaving school after his junior year. Currently, he looks like a solid middle second-rounder in 2011.
However, the potential is certainly there for Davis' stock to shoot up. Critics claim he lives and dies by the baseline jumper, but his shot selection and offensive decision-making are some of his best qualities, evidenced by his finishing third in the Big Ten in field-goal shooting at 53.3 percent (171-321).
If he can continue to develop a triple-threat game, he will be able to beat more opposing defenders with his little half-hooks and turnaround jump shots. His defense isn't bad either, and this upcoming season will give him a chance to showcase it for "Association" scouts.
The Illini were a surprisingly good team last year, but they lost their best (and one of the league's best) defenders in Chester Frazier. Coach Bruce Weber has spoken about Davis being a go-to-guy in the future, especially on the defensive end, and someone will have to step up and guard the opposing team's best scorer like Frazier did last season. Davis will need to be that guy.
Another key for Davis to reach the next level is his weight (or lack thereof). Davis will have to hit the weight room hard, and hit the buffet harder, to obtain the bulk needed to bang down low with NBA fours. Regarding eating, he can take a clue from some of the sportswriters covering him - they seem to put weight on easily.
If Davis improves his play in the paint, he'll possess an inside-outside versatility which will produce more games like the one he had at Ohio State, or the spectacular performance versus Clemson on Dec. 2. In the Big Ten/ACC Challenge he scored a career-high 28 points, making 12-of-19 shots against the Tigers, with his 12 field goals ranking as the most by a Big Ten player this season.