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Antoine Davis' heart always was in Detroit. Eventually, so was the NIL cash.

Tony Paul, The Detroit News on

Published in Basketball

DETROIT — Talking to men's basketball coaches around the Horizon League, the commentary about Antoine Davis runs the gamut. They've enjoyed watching the dynamic shooter do his thing, but they've also been counting down the minutes until he departed Detroit Mercy. After all, you try guarding him.

In April, they appeared to get their wish when Davis, who last season became the leading scorer in program history, shockingly announced on social media that he was transferring. He wanted to take his game to a bigger program, and he wanted some Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) cash, too.

Then, in May, he made an equally surprising decision: He was returning to Detroit Mercy, after all, passing up opportunities at Kansas State and BYU, among others. The Horizon League will get a fifth and final year of The Antoine Davis Show, as he marches toward the top five all-time in Division I scoring.

"These fans want to see Detroit Mercy win, and I want to win for the fans, not only just for myself and my teammates," Davis said recently, before a midday shootaround in a sweltering Calihan Hall. "It would be something for them to look forward to, to be so happy about.

"Detroit hasn't seen any winning in a while, so it'd be something special for them, and for me."

It's now been a decade since Detroit Mercy last made the NCAA Tournament, three coaches ago.

 

Mike Davis, Antoine's dad, is entering his fifth season as head coach, and he's never gone more than five years at either of his three previous stops (Indiana, UAB, Texas Southern) without making the NCAA Tournament. He figured he would've made the NCAA Tournament by now when he took the Detroit Mercy job, taking over for Bacari Alexander, who was fired after two years. But Year 1, they were way behind in recruiting when they took the job. Year 2, they were banned from the NCAA Tournament because of academic issues that predated every coach and player on the roster. Year 3, COVID-19. And Year 4, more COVID, costing Detroit Mercy a handful of home games — and, thus, a top-four seeding in the Horizon League tournament, which, the way the event is formatted, is critical to get the league's one bid.

Then came the news of Davis' decision to transfer, and Year 5 wasn't looking too hot, either.

That's not the case anymore.

"It was good, good for us," Mike Davis said of Antoine's decision — which, both swear, was not influenced by Mike. "He started here and he needed to finish here. He needs to get into the (NCAA) Tournament."

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