LITTLE ROCK — Already cemented as one of the all-time greats and postseason heroes in the Razorbacks men’s basketball program, junior guard Davonte “Devo” Davis is withdrawing from the 2023 NBA Draft and returning to Arkansas for the 2023-24 season.
Davis’ mentor, Antonio Buchanon (16U Arkansas Hawks grassroots basketball coach), told Hogville on Friday, April 28, that Davis would be re-joining the team for a fourth campaign.
Davis — he had a pre-draft workout with the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, May 30, a day prior to withdrawing from the NBA Draft which coincided with the NCAA’s deadline to do so to maintain his college eligibility — is poised to become the first Arkansas player to first enter the draft pool before returning and competing for Eric Musselman in his five seasons leading the program.
Davis (6-4 guard, Jacksonville native) was the third player from the Hogs’ vaunted four-man 2020 high school recruiting class — ranked 5th nationally by ESPN — to declare for the draft prior to completing his college eligibility (Moses Moody in 2021 and Jaylin Williams in 2022).
Davis announced his draft entry plans on March 31, just eight days after the team’s season finale — an 88-66 loss to eventual national champion UConn in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in Las Vegas. As part of his announcement, Davis expressed his intention to maintain his college eligibility with the option to return to play a fourth season at Arkansas.
Davis was a driving force in the Razorbacks’ three consecutive NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 runs (’20-21, ’21-22, ’22-23), which included back-to-back Elite Eights in his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Game-winning shots, game-winning plays, and heroic performances have so far defined several of Davis’ postseason efforts as a Razorback.
An SEC All Defensive team honoree in ’22-23, Davis has been a menace as a relentless on-ball defensive hawk. He’s done an excellent job as a disruptor forcing ball-handlers off course, and he’s been sneaky in help situations as he attacks the blind side of unsuspecting ball-handlers to poach steals or jam up the offensive flow. He has shown a knack for not only coming up with 50/50-balls amid the chaos of plays breaking down, but he’s also been able to turn those live-ball change-of-possession situations into transition scoring opportunities.
Splitting time as a starter and sixth man in non-conference play before holding down a starting role once league play began in his junior season, Davis was fourth on the team in per-game scoring (10.9 points), second in assists (2.5) and steals (1.4), third in minutes (33.1), and fourth in rebounds (4.4).
He had 16 multiple-steal games in ’22-23. He raised his three-point shooting volume and efficiency to career bests of 1.3 made triples per game at a respectable 34.6%, and he shot 41.5% overall from the field and 71.9% from the free throw line. He recorded two double-doubles in scoring/rebounding, and he had a third game of recording double-digit rebounds. He scored in double-figures 19 times.
In the ’22-23 NCAAT, Davis erupted for his season-high 25 points (21 scored in the second half) in a warrior poet effort in the Hogs’ 72-71 win over No. 1 seed Kansas in the NCAAT Round of 32. Davis’ steal that led to a Council layup in the closing minutes against Illinois stood out as the play of the game in that win, and Davis’ steal and subsequent 2-of-2 free throw effort in the closing seconds iced a three-point win over Auburn in the SECT.
As a freshman in ’20-21, his close-range pull-up shot in the closing seconds was the game-winner over Oral Roberts in the Sweet 16 that sent Arkansas to the first of those two consecutive Elite Eights.
In 102 career games at Arkansas, Davis has registered 941 points, 425 rebounds, 253 assists, and 118 steals with the Hogs going 72-30 when he played.