Ed Davis' hometown paper catches up with him over the weekend. We knew Davis was impressive on the court but he is equally impressive with the things he says off of it.
In the NCAA title game, he came off the bench to contribute 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds in only 14 minutes. For the season, the 6-10, 220-pound left-hander averaged 6.7 points and 6.6 rebounds and led the Tar Heels with 65 blocked shots.
"I'm happy with the year I had," Davis said. "National championship, I can't complain. We did a lot of good things this year. Coming into the season, I didn't think about how many minutes I could get. I just thought, I want to contribute to the team in whatever role Coach gave me."
His daily battles with other gifted big men -- Hansbrough, Deon Thompson and Tyler Zeller -- accelerated Davis' transition to the college game.
"Practices were harder than the games," he said, "because you're going against Tyler every day in practice and then Deon and then Zeller. They all have different games."
Davis, 19, said he decided to stay in school "not to raise my NBA stock, but just because I love Carolina. And then whenever I'm ready for the NBA, that's when I'm just going to make that step."
He spoke to a couple of NBA players, Davis said, and they told him, as had his father, a former Virginia Union standout, that "nothing is as fun as college . . . That's why I look forward to enjoying the years I'm here."
Call that the "Tyler Hansbrough mentality." On one hand it is easy to be cynical about press releases that say a player loves the school and is returning because of that. On the other hand, Davis was going to be a lottery pick so the desire to return out of a love for college appears to be genuine. That and the fact this kid appears to be extremely grounded. C.Michael emailed me from the ACC Tournament and said that Davis is almost timid in person but you tell he gets "it." That is evident in Davis saying he was willing to accept whatever role the coaches had for him. That is not the first time he has made that statement and speaks volumes about his character. The other upside for him and Tyler Zeller is the fact practice is often tougher than the games. How many freshman have to match up versus three different quality big men every day?
Davis is going to be a special player next season and I think there is hope, based on these comments, that he may not necessarily be in a rush to get to the NBA. Granted his family has a good financial situation which helps Davis make these decisions with less pressure than other have when making the same choice. All in all I am looking forward to a full season of Davis as a starter in 2009-10.