By: Jonathan Kostoff – Staff Writer
He’s the unsung hero every team wants on its side because opponents fear him.
He’s a nuisance to prepare for.
The way he shuts down the opponent’s best player is a work of art.
He forced Co-Big East Player of the Year Kris Dunn into a duet in his first NCAA tournament game that will haunt him into the offseason. Dunn was four for 13 from the floor with seven turnovers. This hero is Kyle Davis, a kid who has loved working hard on the defensive end since his high school days. He never wanted to be the top offensive guy; he instead found his own niche.
“I saw every player on the team could score, and one thing our team was lacking a little bit was defense. When I started playing defense, all my teammates started playing defense harder,” Davis said.
Davis was not in search of the glory of filling up the box score.
“His toughness, I’ll tell you, Kyle is the driving force on defense for us,” redshirt senior guard Jordan Sibert said after Friday’s win against Providence. “And his toughness is something that’s unmatched. And without him, you know, we wouldn’t have won half the games this season.”
Davis is still in search of making the all-defensive team in the Atlantic 10 Conference, but Davis said he doesn’t worry about that too much.
“People have their opinions on it,” Davis said. “I just took that as motivation to play even harder.”
Davis is much more than a defensive wizard, however. He plays for his hometown of Chicago and studies NBA defensive minds like Houston Rockets starting point guard Patrick Beverley, who also happens to be from Chicago.
“I try and model my defense after Patrick Beverley. He plays hard. He’s a scrappy player and a small guard at that too,” Davis said.
He’s a student of the game.
Davis said he enjoys “watching the NBA when the team is off and during the offseason.” He watches other guards play hard on defense and makes the most of their small stature.
However, it’s not always actions on the court that define a player; it’s the story a player has from thier home that defines them.
On the outside, Davis is always smiling and having a good time playing the sport that he loves. He especially enjoys messing with Sibert.
“I like to pick on him and mess with him every now and then,” Davis said. “Even on the court, he tells me do the same thing you do to me. See if you can get in a player’s head and frustrate them.”
And Davis reveals who he really is on the outside.
He has 27 tattoos that started when he was a freshman in high school.
His favorite is the sleeve on his right leg inspired by the city of Chicago: the (White) Sox, the Bulls, the Jumpman logo and some freestyle artwork.
And he’s nowhere near done marking his inspirations through the artwork on his body. He continually talks with his tattoo artist for new ideas to express who he is, whether it be related to Chicago, freestyle music or to express how “truly blessed” he feels.