Arguably no other prospect has had a more interesting path to a spot in the 2019 NBA draft combine than Ole Miss guard Terence Davis.
After four seasons in college, Davis stood out among seniors and took home All-Tournament honors at Portsmouth. The 6-foot-4 guard (who has a 6-foot-7.75″ wingspan) was then a last-minute addition to the inaugural G League Elite Camp, where he shined once more and eventually earned enough votes from NBA teams to receive one of the few exclusive invitations to the official NBA Combine.
During all of the madness, he spoke with HoopsHype about his remarkable few days in Chicago and what helped him get to this moment.
What have you done to prepare for the NBA draft so far this offseason?
Terence Davis: I signed with Adam Pensack and they have trainers at Impact Sports with Joe Abunassar and Drew Moore and they are unbelievable. The work we get done there with the conditioning and the players we get to work out with is amazing. It is a good vibe and a good scene and has definitely helped me out a lot with this process.
You were the last invite to the G League Elite Camp and have now made it to the NBA combine. Can you tell me about this wild ride that you’ve recently had?
TD: I played at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament and that was my first time playing in front of so many NBA scouts. After that, we were talking about if we made the decision to participate because I didn’t get the G League Elite Camp invitation until the last day you could get into it. Even though I wasn’t discouraged, I was a little bit down on myself at first. I could not figure out what went wrong. When I finally got that invite, I was so happy and so thankful. But that was a blessing right there and I took it and now I’ve made it to the NBA combine. It was a major opportunity and I just wanted to show everybody I belonged.
When teams are getting to know you, what do they come away learning about you as a person?
TD: I’ve been an underdog all my life so I’m going to always be hungry for more. I’ve always been on the backburner of things. I just see myself as this energetic guy who plays hard every single game. I tell them about my “why” as well. I explain why I wake up every day and work so hard. I have several of them. I’ll have a son in June. He is a huge part of it. I want him to have the best life. My mom is another reason. She works twelve-hour shifts from 6 pm to 6 am just to make end’s meet. I have told my mom since I was a young kid that one day I will take care of her and she will not have to work again. I am so sincere with teams because that is my life.
Can you share some of the feedback you have been receiving from teams in this process?
TD: A lot of teams like how hard I play and how much energy I bring to the game. One of the executives told me that I impact the game in so many ways on the court that are impossible to teach. When I’m on defense, I know I am able to switch one-to-four because of my physicality. I was a football player coming out of high school. I know teams like my toughness.
How serious were you about football as a two-sport athlete in high school?
TD: I was a wideout, man, a 6-foot-4 wide receiver. I had more than 20 D1 offers coming out of high school. Do you want to know something crazy? When I decided to choose a school, I had to choose a sport as well. People thought that I was a better football player than a basketball player at the time when I was a senior in high school. When I made my choice, my dad told me not to take the easy way out. I knew what he was talking about because, to be honest, football came so naturally to me. I have big hands and a big body and Mississippi is a football state. When I chose basketball, everyone gave me so much backlash. It kind of got to me because as a freshman in college, I didn’t play as much. But that is when I looked in the mirror, I knew I made the right decision. I just needed to put my head down and go to work. So that’s what I did. My sophomore year, I went from averaging a point a game to 14.9 points per game. It was one of the biggest improvements in the country. Since then, I have given all my time to basketball.
But what was it about basketball that made you stick with it rather than football?
TD: It was just my first love, man. I always looked at football as short-term and not many guys have long careers in the NFL. It’s somewhat dangerous, too. But I started playing basketball when I was six. I just love this game so much. I love it so much. I couldn’t shy away from it. I really knew that I was always going to want to come back to it.
What are some of the ways that your background in football helped you with basketball?
TD: It definitely helped with my agility. Some of the physicality and strength that I show on the court, too. It helped me get a different mindset, too. I think that to play football. Do you understand where I’m coming from? You need a whole different demeanor. But I brought both of those together, it’s like, oh man. That’s what helped me out a lot. I bring a football mentality when I play. It makes me aggressive, it makes me tougher. You can convert some of that to basketball. When I played football, I used to think: if there is one guy on me, that’s not enough. And when I’m guarding someone on defense now, I will guard them like they are trying to take something from me. I want to be disruptive and I play like a dog.
How can an NBA team utilize your talent on the offensive side of the ball?
TD: I feel like I am a very, very good player in transition off the rebound and pushing it. I run lanes very well. I just like running. Transition is really about outrunning your man and getting to the other end as fast as you can. As a wide receiver, that’s something I always liked to do. But I can score in many other ways on the offensive end. I’m a midrange shooter. I’m a good spot-up shooter and I can shot on the move. I can get to the cut, man, I’m a slasher. I feel like I can do a variety of things and these are things I tell teams during interviews. Whatever role they need me, I am willing to do it. Because I can do whatever is needed for them until they feel I am ready to expand on it. Honestly, I just want to put the ball in the basket. When I was little, that’s how I tried to be and it’s the same now.
You’re also a fairly good playmaker out of the pick-and-roll. How are you able to use that to create for yourself and for others?
TD: Yessir. I got a new coach last year in Kermit Davis and he was such a fantastic coach. He pretty much put me in that spot where I could make good decisions. I wanted to show NBA teams that I could do that. I was Top 10 in my the SEC for assists and led my team in dishes. I always wanted to be like that and that was out of my stats, that was the one that made me most proud.
I also love your jump shot because you can connect off the catch and off the dribble. What is your comfort level with your jumper?
TD: I’ve really been working on being a consistent shot maker off the dribble and I upped my three-point percentage by a lot for my senior season. So with my ability to shoot off the dribble, that really opened up things for me. It got new passing lanes, helped me find the open man. Shooting off the catch feels a lot easier for me but is also something that I am constantly working on, too.
One question I love asking prospects about is whether or not they play NBA 2K. If so, what is it going to be like playing as yourself?
TD: Yeah, I love MyPlayer and playing in MyPark, too. But that’s one of the reasons I’ve stopped playing 2K as much recently. I’m seeing all of these guys I’ve actually played against on there and I just can’t stop thinking about how I need to be on the game. I can’t wait to be on it. I am actually glad you asked me that because that is something I have told myself. Next time I pick up the joystick to play this, I want to be on it. That is definitely going to be such a funny moment for me and every time I play someone else, I’m always going to be the team that I actually play on.