The early signing period in college basketball is like an early Christmas for some programs across the country, and Christmas certainly came early for the Indiana Hoosiers as they outdueled Mississippi State for the services of four-star forward De'Ron Davis.
Davis, a 6'9, 235-pound bruiser became the third commitment for the Hoosiers and the first frontcourt player to pledge. Fellow four-star guard Curtis Jones (WV) and sharpshooter Grant Gelon (IN) make up the class for Tom Crean and company. The commitment of Davis is significant in terms of replacing the potential losses of Troy Williams and Thomas Bryant - both have realistic chances of bolting early for the NBA. Michigan transfer Max Bielfeldt will be a presence in the frontcourt this year, but only has one year of eligibility remaining.
Tom Crean has enjoyed a recent streak of developing big men in such a short amount of time - Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh spent a combined three years in Bloomington before declaring their intentions to enter their respective draft classes. With Davis in the fold, how will he fare under Crean's tutelage?
Davis enters his senior season as a prototypical power forward with the ability to play center. His long arms allow him to play bigger than his already imposing frame. He's not as lanky as current freshman Thomas Bryant, but Davis can be called upon to protect the rim and alter shots against Big Ten forwards and centers when dialed in.
By the time Davis steps onto campus in 2016, Hoosier Nation should expect his biggest contributions to come on the offensive end. In today's seemingly "position less" brand of basketball, Davis is a true back-to-the-basket big man who's comfortable on the low block. He rarely strays away from the post, and displays a solid repertoire of moves when on the low block. With the ability to go over either shoulder - tends to favor his left shoulder - and use turnaround jump shots, Davis could be an effective offensive player his freshman year.
Perhaps his best quality is his willingness to get teammates involved and play within the team concept. Davis's passing will prove to be useful with Curtis Jones and Grant Gelon on the perimeter. His ability to score on the low block could command double teams and open things up for guards to score in a multitude of ways.
Areas for Improvement
The offensive skills are there for Davis, but he lacks a degree of athleticism that could make it problematic for him to be a top-tier post player. Making quick decisions and not hanging on to the ball for too long will be pivotal if Davis plans on becoming an efficient post player his freshman season.
Davis possesses a solid motor on the offensive end, but has a propensity for taking possessions off on defense. Seeing a dedicated approach to defense will be crucial, as coach Crean runs a defense predicated on deflections and getting in passing lanes. Davis will see more time as a shot blocker, but can still flash potential to disrupt passing lanes.
Being the go-to-guy on his high school team has inadvertently made him a bit erratic at times. The Aurora, CO (Overland) standout has been caught trying to do too much at times, which could disrupt ball movement and offensive sets if it carries over into college.
The Hoosiers have an immensely talented roster in 2015, but could become bereft of frontcourt talent should Williams and Bryant elect to forgo the rest of their eligibility for the NBA.
If Thomas Bryant elects to stay for his sophomore campaign, he and Davis will form one of the more formidable frontcourts in the Big Ten. If Bryant decides to leave, look for Davis to fill in admirably. Guards will love playing with Davis, as he will open up scoring opportunities on the wing. Crean's knack for recruiting and developing big men has partially helped him maintain his status as the Hoosier's head coach, and with the addition of Davis, look for the trend of immediate impact big men to continue.