Jyare Davis comes from a religious family, which came in handy when his freshman year as a college basketball player was undermined by a concussion.
Davis didn’t get in any of Providence’s 26 games last year despite being cleared late in the season. But he kept the faith in himself and his ability.
Now, in his first season as a University of Delaware player after transferring, defending teams practically don’t have a prayer when Davis gets the basketball.
The 6-foot-7 Sanford School graduate from Newark continued his stellar play Monday night at the Carpenter Center, contributing 14 points on 7-for-9 shooting and a game-high 14 rebounds to the Blue Hens’ 81-60 win over James Madison.
A career-high 30 points from Jameer Nelson Jr. led the Blue Hens. But even Nelson marveled at Davis, who earned his third straight Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week honor earlier Monday.
“He might be Rookie of the Week for the rest of the season,” Nelson said, “but I feel like, you get a little recognition it’s like ‘Oh, I can do this all the time.’ . . . There’s no ceiling for him now.’’
Five of Davis’s seven baskets Monday were dunks, much to the delight of the 1,298 in attendance and his teammates.
“Man, look out,” Nelson said of Davis’ willingness, confidence and ferocity while going to the basket.
Davis had been a regular contributor off the bench for the Blue Hens, scoring 11 points in a Dec. 5 win over UMBC before missing two games with an injury and two more with a non-COVID illness in December.
But he has been a force since stepping in for first-team All-CAA post Dylan Painter, who suffered an ankle injury at Towson Jan. 27 and has played only 10 minutes in Saturday’s loss to Hofstra since.
Davis has shot 68 percent (34-for-50) and averaged 15.2 points in the last five games.
Delaware improved to 17-9 overall and 8-5 in the CAA Monday in its last league contest against James Madison (14-11, 5-9), set for a summer move to the Sun Belt Conference driven by a desire to play Bowl Subdivision football.
“Dylan got hurt and it’s just next man up and I’m just happy I can help my team win,” Davis said.
When Davis decided to transfer last year, Delaware, which had recruited him in high school and was close to home, was a comfortable option.
But Davis didn’t feel wounded by his Providence experience. He arrived at Delaware still confident in his abilities.
“Throughout that whole process,” he said, “everybody was just telling me God has a plan for everybody. And that’s something I just lived by and something I made sure to take on during tough times.
“I never really lost confidence in myself,” he added. “I definitely put the work in by spending time in the gym. A lot of those shots and a lot of the things I do out there in games and stuff are things I’ve done hundreds of times, every morning, every night.”
Even if players transfer from a Big East program such as Providence to mid-major Delaware, it’s still a high level of college basketball, Delaware coach Martin Ingelsby pointed out. There are plenty of challenges and adjustments, and they can take time.
Now Davis is seeing the positive results of his diligence and a mindful approach,
“He is a student of the game,” Ingelsby said. “He’s a hard worker. He’s got great instincts and just being back in the gym with a coaching staff that really has believed in him and given him confidence . . . It wasn’t always smooth sailing. There were some hard days. There were some tough days.
“But he loves to compete and I think he’s very comfortable with who he is as a basketball player now and how he can make an impact for us.”
Davis initially was straying more toward the perimeter than Delaware wanted. Ingelsby and his staff felt Davis could be most effective in the post, which has proven to be quite perceptive.
“Make your mark around the basket,” Ingelsby said of the staff's message to Davis. “That’s where you have an advantage at this level. And I think he’s just comfortable with who he is. He had some success and all of a sudden you see the impact he can make. He’s scary talented with what he can do with his size and physicality.”
As an example, Ingelsby mentioned Davis rebounding his own miss in traffic late in the first half Monday and slam-dunking the putback.
“When I first got here I settled for a lot jump shots,” Davis said, before coaches "talked to me about making sure I go strong to the basket and just see if I can get the easy one. I’ve been doing that the last couple games.”
The results have often been prolific.
“He’s a focal point of our offense now,” Ingelsby said. “ . . . He’s having fun playing basketball and that’s really I think what we’ve been able to pull out of him. Just get back to having fun.”
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This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Sanford grad Davis keys Delaware CAA basketball win over JMU