6-foot-7 Paul Watson and 6-foot-6 Karachi Edo were Fresno State’s tallest players in their two exhibition games, but the team expects to have junior college transfer Alex Davis ready for Friday's season opener at UC Irvine. The Bulldogs will be greatly oversized by a UC Irvine team that has two active seven footers, but the they will add size and length with Davis at 6-foot-9.
Davis helped lead Hutchinson Community College to a 31-4 record and an appearance in the NCJAA Tournament last year. Davis averaged 13.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game in his sophomore season. Friday will be his first Division I basketball game, but adjusting hasn’t been a problem for him in the preseason.
“The adjustment is not that much different to be honest,” Davis said. “Me coming in with those two years of JC gave me a lot of experience at the college level.”
While Davis will rarely be matched up against the 7-foot-6 and 7-foot-2 centers that UC Irvine will have on Friday, he will more often than not be undersized in the post as long as he has to play the five.
“It’s really a mental game,” Davis said. “I’ve just got to be aware of the size coming in and kind of use my speed to out hustle them guys to the position in post. I don’t feel like I’m at a disadvantage, I feel like I’m at an advantage because I’ve got the speed on those guys. I’m wiry strong for my size, so I think I’ll be fine.”
Davis isn’t a natural center, but he will have to play the role for now.
“I think I’m pretty much a stretch four,” Davis said. “I can face up, I can attack the basket, I’ve got a nice 16 to 17 foot jumper, I’m extending my range to the NBA three point line this year. Overall, I’m pretty much a complete player if you ask me. I’m going to continue to work on that.”
The 6-foot-9 forward expanded his skill set in the past year to even play minutes at small forward. He has no problem stepping behind the three point line.
“I’m very confident I can hit the college three very consistently,” Davis said. “All I’ve got to do is set my feet, get my feet ready, and I'll be able to knock down any shot pretty much. I’ll continue to work on that. It’s a transformation, it’s a process for me. But I’m getting in the reps everyday.”
Playing the stretch four was a big reason Davis chose to be a Bulldog so don’t expect the team’s injuries in the front court to keep him exclusively in the post. Pairing with forward Karachi Edo will allow Davis to roam the midrange and perimeter to show off his athleticism.
“I knew coming here, I was going to be able to showcase my game all around,” Davis said. “I had some pretty good offers, but I felt like Fresno State was the best fit for my game. For this program, I know with my athleticism and my skill, I can help take this program to the next level.”
Besides showcasing his ability, head coach Rodney Terry played a big role in Davis coming to Fresno State.
“Fresno State was a good fit for me because coach Terry is a nice guy,” Davis said. “He’s a real good coach and him being from where I’m from - he’s from Texas too. He’s a tough minded coach and I like playing for a tough minded coach.”
Davis doesn’t expect to have much problem adjusting to division I basketball, but the Bulldogs will have to rely on three true freshmen to play significant minutes this season. After a shaky first exhibition, guard Emmanuel Owootoah and Edo each played solid in their second exhibition, but the young players will face a whole new level of opposition in the coming weeks.
“With the freshman coming in… them guys are great guys,” Davis said. “They’re going to compete at a high level. But they’ve just got to get up to speed, because transferring from the high school to the college game is at a faster pace. I kind of experienced that at the jc level and I’m just trying to help with my experience.”
Davis has already stepped into a leadership role thanks to his experience at the junior college level.
“The biggest thing I improved on in JC from my freshman year to now is my leadership… I really focused on becoming not only a better player, but a better leader."