In the months leading up to the 2015-16 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the 'BTPowerhouse 25,' which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.
Today we take a look at the pride of the Purdue Boilermakers, senior leader and defensive stalwart Rapheal Davis. He earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors last season and hopes to build on that next season.
'BTP 25' - #21 Rapheal Davis
- Eligibility: Senior
- Career Totals: 100 games, 2302 minutes, 751 points, 399 rebounds, 160 assists
- 2014-15 Averages: 31.3 minutes, 10.7 points, 4.4 rebounds. 2.6 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.8 steals
- Positional Role: Guard
Purdue basketball seemed lost for two years after the graduation of Robbie Hummel. They missed the NCAA Tournament both seasons and lacked the chemistry, leadership and toughness on defense that had been their trademark. Last year, Rapheal Davis changed all that as he and his teammates fought their way into the Big Dance by out-working opponents and playing some of the best team defense in the Big Ten. For his contribution, Rapheal would earn Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a spot on Seth Davis' All-Glue Team.
A lot of media pundits like to refer to Davis as an old-school Purdue guy. To be honest, I can't think of a more apt description, and I'm sure Rapheal is as proud of that label as he is of any of his accolades. He brings hustle and a competitive fire to everything he does on the court. His work on defense is nearly unmatched across the country. On offense, Davis became very effective at getting the line and made more free throws than any of his teammates. Davis' leadership extends off the court as well. Well-spoken in interviews, Davis seems to always says the right things and constantly talks about how hard his teammates are working toward their goal of winning both the Big Ten and National Championships.
Areas for Improvement
Simply put, Davis needs to improve his outside shot. He finished last season with 30% mark from three. However, based on his occasionally obvious hesitation to take open threes last season, it seems like confidence may be where his issue lies. As a guard on a team loaded with quality bigs, Davis has to make opposing defenses respect him from beyond the arc, or else he starts to become a liability on offense.
This season should be a good one for Davis. The senior will have more talent than ever around him and will no doubt be able to continue his leadership role and be effective on defense. Teammate A.J. Hammons should be Davis' biggest competitor for DPOY, but expect both to return to the All-Defensive team. With Jon Octeus' departure, we may see Davis play a point guard role occasionally and don't be surprised if his shooting percentages and assists go up, but his points per game go down. Rapheal is committed to working within the team's philosophy and this season that could mean distributing more and scoring less.