When class of 2012 commitment Rapheal Davis made his college decision in 2009, he was only a (FW) South Side HS freshman.
He was a great pickup for Matt Painter, but lots can happen in three years so it has been long and uncomfortable wait for him to sign on the dotted line. I've learned the hard way to never count my chickens before they hatch.
Fast forward to the present and we can rest assure that Davis's commitment is still firm as it was in 2009. He's had a great summer and is less than a week away from moving to La Lumiere Prep School (with future teammate Jay Simpson) for senior year.
Considering all of the possibilities, I'd say this outcome is the best case scenario.
When Rapheal Davis ((6'5"/200 lbs.) was recruited as a freshman, he was one of the most physically developed recruits in his class. He could put points on the board by simply overpowering his opponents in the lane. He was obviously good enough to earn a scholarship offer from Matt Painter, but there were no guarantees that he will continue to develop and maintain his physical edge. Thankfully over the past two years, Davis has continued to work on his game and consistently shines against the nation's top talent.
Davis is a damn good basketball player, but lacks the elements that recruiting services tend to fawn over. He doesn't have elite athleticism, blazing speed. He is a bit undersized to play the 3, the position he was initially slate to become. Despite all of these 'shortcomings,' he has made as big of a splash as anyone else in his class this summer. He obviously doesn't get the press that someone uncommitted or going to IU gets, but his performances have been just as good as anyone. I'm not going to say that he's underrated, but I do think he's under-appreciated.
In the two years that I have followed his basketball exploits, Davis has made a huge impact in nearly every game he's played. His ceiling might not be as high as other kids, but he consistently stands out regardless of who he plays with or against. And I have seen him play on the same court as some of the country's top prospects.
Davis has lots to bring to Purdue's team, but his versatility is what I value the most. He'll give Matt Painter plenty of options for utilizing him.
When Davis was first recruited by Purdue, he projected to be play a wing. Unfortunately, he failed to grow as some had hoped, leaving him in somewhere between a 2 and a 3. During the passed two years, he has spent a lot of time developing his shooting and ball handling, making him a more likely shooting guard candidate. His range extends comfortably past the three point line, but he prefers to drive and use his size and strength to drive the lane. Either way, he is capable of putting a lot of points on the board. He has improved his average each year; averaging over 28 points and 7 rebounds as a junior. Despite being the offensive focal point of his team, defenses could simply not stop him from scoring.
The downside is this sometimes he gets a little over confident with his shot. He'll need to better understand his limitations and defer to his teammates when necessary.
During last summer's AAU circuit, Davis was needed (out of necessity) to run the point for his team. This was been a blessing in disguise as it gave him an opportunity to work on his ball handling. By the end of the last summer, he was a very natural a PG. While likely uncomfortable it was for him, he took on the roll of the distributor and facilitated the game quite well. This improvement very apparent during his past HS season and into this summer evaluation period. He drives the lane with more confidence and does a much better job seeing the floor.
While I don't think he will be asked to play PG at the next level, this skill-set will provide an additional ball handler in the regular rotation without sacrificing offensive production.
Defensively, Davis reminds me of a mix between Kelsey Barlow and DJ Byrd. He has the size and strength to defend the 3 if necessary, but flourishes guarding the perimeter. He moves laterally very well and has the ability to drive the defender nuts. His size, strength, and defensive demeanor will be an ideal fit for Matt Painter's defensive schemes -assuming he has no issues adjusting to Painter's expectations. His size makes him difficult to dribble through, and he has adequate lateral quickness to stay in front of quicker guards.
It should put all Purdue fans at east knowing that Davis, along with fellow 2012 recruit Ronnie Johnson, have the tools to keep defensive continuity well into the future. There is always going to be a period of adjustment, but I think they can raise the bar defensively, which is a pretty bold statement . And the kicker is that this will come without sacrificing anything on the offensive end. We have yet to experience this luxury in the Matt Painter era.
When Rapheal Davis is on the court, he plays the game like it's personal. He plays his a** off on every position and lets no one get in his way. He fights for tough rebounds, follows his shot, plays tough defense, and does everything he's humanly capable of to will his team to win.
This aggressive demeanor is one of the attributes that makes him such a good player, but it also gets him into some trouble with the refs. His competitiveness can get a little carried away and result in unnecessary technical fouls. On more than one occasion this summer, his technical foul nearly decided the game. It's great to see that he's so engaged, but Matt Painter is not going to play someone who is a liability. He needs to find the right balance to keep the high-energy but keep his emotions from hurting the team.
We've seen this in players before, and everyone matures at a different level...
Calling Rapheal Davis's summer busy is a huge understatement. After coming off of a foot injury, he has played with the Indiana Junior All-Stars, Spiece Indy Heat, his LaLumiere team (at Purdue's team camp) and D3 Pride. Regardless of what team he's playing for, he has demonstrated an impressive ability to adjust to the new setting on the fly and make an immediate impact. He knew his La Lumiere team for maybe 30 seconds prior to tipoff in West Lafayette and he was the team's leading scorer in multiple games. (The video below is footage from the camp.)
Davis completed his final AAU season playing alongside fellow Purdue target Gary Harris on D3 Pride. Davis demonstrated an ability to successfully play side-by-side with Harris, averaging nearly 15 points a game and showing great team chemistry. Harris generates the headlines, but Davis had just as productive tournament.
I bring this point up partly because mentioning Gary Harris guarantees 100 extra page views, but really because it shows how good he can be as a compliment to an already potent offense. He will flourish,I predict, when he isn't the primary focal point for the opposing defense. With the talent he'll have around him, he could be a difference maker.