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Consistency is key to Texas G Eric Davis Jr. unlocking offensive potential

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If the sophomore can become a nightly threat in his increased role, Eric Davis Jr. could become one of the Big 12’s deadliest snipers.

Vanderbilt v Texas Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images

They say, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” or something along those lines.

Such a saying is far from applicable to shooting guard Eric Davis Jr., though, who will take and make quite a few long-range bombs during his second season on the 40 Acres.

Even as a freshman playing what amounted to approximately half of each of outing (20.6 mpg), Davis proved to be Texas' most reliable perimeter threat, connecting on 38.2 percent of his 110 attempts. Of major contributors, only Kendal Yancy converted from deep more efficiently (40.7%), but he also attempted 15 fewer shots (27) than Davis made (42).

Now suddenly serving as a veteran on a team with hoards of youth and inexperience—no returning Longhorn played more than Davis’ 681 minutes last season—the sharpshooting Saginaw (Mich.) native will inherit a considerably heightened role as a breakout candidate on the wing.

For Davis, consistently truly is the key to unlocking his offensive potential as a sophomore, and there’s no refuting that the streaky shooter’s first collegiate campaign can be best described as a rollercoaster.

Eric Davis Jr. game log
ESPN

As with any pure shooter, Davis struggled through nights where shots simply weren’t falling, while on others, he was Texas’ best offensive option and even the best scorer on the floor, entirely. More notably, arguably the most impressive takeaway from Davis’ debut season was that his best games came against elite competition:

  • No. 25 Texas A&M - 19 PTS (4-7 from 3)
  • No. 3 North Carolina - 16 PTS (4-5 from 3)
  • No. 17 Iowa State - 14 PTS (2-5 from 3)
  • No. 10 West Virginia - 15 PTS (4-4 from 3)

Despite inexperience and what was a slew of veterans surrounding him as a freshman, Davis often displayed his desire to shine in the biggest moments—he seems to possess the often-elusive clutch gene. Though it was only a intrasquad scrimmage, Davis, again, flaunted much of the same confidence in crunch-time during the Texas Tip-Off, beating the halftime buzzer with a triple and drilling what became the game-winning three over the outstretched arms of Mariek Isom.

Between his tendency to play his best in big moments and rain in multiple threes per game, as he did 13 times as a freshman, it may be hard for Shaka Smart to keep the increasingly confident guard off the court, especially in a system that we may finally fit the mold of a Smart-coached team that heaves threes at will. That said, it should only help that Texas was substantially better from beyond the arc with Davis in the game last season, hitting 38.3 percent of 3-pointers, as opposed to only 29.6 percent when he sat.

As Jeff Haley and Jonny Brashear said in Smart Texas Basketball ($), “His stroke is so nice he evokes memories of A.J. Abrams, if A.J. stood on a stack of phone books and cared about playing defense.”

For as nice as his shooting stroke may be, though, it would be doing Davis a disservice to shrug off his competency and capabilities in other aspects of his game.

If one were to evaluate place Davis into a set category at the moment, "3-and-D" would be fitting. At 6'3, 195 pounds, Davis was a capable and more than willing defender last season, and impressively did so against a league chockfull of elite guards while managing only 2.4 fouls per 40 minutes—a team-best effort. And while it isn't hit calling card, Davis is an improving ball handler and has shown he ability to attack the rim at times. It's not something he may be asked to do much as a sophomore, but it's certainly an aspect of his game he can resort to and build upon throughout his progression.

As for Davis’ immediate future in Austin, churning out impact performances on a much more consistent basis is the next milestone. To evolve into the talent he’s more than capable of becoming, Davis will need to grow into the offensive asset teams are aware of and game plan around on a nightly basis, as opposed to one that might just put up points in bunches.

While guys like Kerwin Roach Jr. and Jarrett Allen have received the bulk of preseason praise—understandably so—it’s Davis that could prove to be Smart’s most lethal offensive weapon if his quick-trigger shooting connects more consistently.

We also previewed Kerwin Roach Jr.