Davis, originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, committed to the University of Minnesota out of high school, but never qualified. He took a two year detour to Junior College, and was able to qualify at the last minute. Late in the summer, he decided that Lamar would be the best choice out of the remaining schools offering him, and hes played very well since stepping on campus.
Physically, Davis is a legit 7 feet tall, and every bit of 335 pounds. Despite the fact that he is overweight, his lower body is about where it should be physically. Most of the excess weight is carried in his mid-section. Davis is very agile for his size, and moves well in the low post. At the beginning of games he runs the court well, but slows more and more as the game progresses.
Offensively, Davis has a lot of the qualities you look for in an NBA big man. He uses both quickness and power to get his shot off in the low post, and his footwork gives him a number of moves he can go to on the offensive end. He needs to improve his touch around the basket, but has a good understanding of how to use the glass. Against Joey Dorsey and Memphis, Davis was able to get a number of shots to fall using his combination of footwork and agility. In that game, he also knocked down a jumper in the flow of the offensive. His shooting stroke from the free throw line is pretty good, but he doesnt have much rotation on his shot, so the ball doesnt have a chance to go in if its off slightly. Davis has a developing feel for the game. He has the ability to make some nice passes when he is double teamed, but he sometimes forces it too much down low and doesnt think to look for his teammates.
Defensively, Davis must make some improvements. He uses his body well on the offensive end, but doesnt body up nearly as well as he should. In addition, he doesnt bend his knees enough, so hes not getting the leverage to push his man out of the paint. Smaller post players are able to get around him because of this, and he picks up a lot of fouls this way (Davis has fouled out of 3 games this season).
Davis biggest problems as a player right now go back to his weight. He never leaves his feet when going for a rebound, and it allows smaller players to get the ball. He does get good position when going for rebounds, so the fundamentals are in place. Davis never leaves the ground when trying to block a shot either, which creates many situations where he picks up a foul.
Davis also turns the ball over with too much frequency. Many of his turnovers come because he doesnt hold the ball over his head away from the guards. He also makes a few plays per game that leave you scratching your head. Against Memphis he fell over and lost the ball trying to handle against the press, and also took an ill advised three pointer early in the shot clock that failed to hit the rim.
At Lamar, Davis will never face a big man nearly as big as him in conference play. This season, he scored 20 points (8/17 FG) and grabbed 16 rebounds against Trent Plaisted of BYU. He also put up 20 points against Memphis last week, but only grabbed 5 rebounds. These games were both a good test of what he could do against high major big men, but these are the only two big tests he will have this season. To solidify his place on the radar of NBA scouts, he will need to dominate the Southland Conference, and possibly make the NCAA Tournament.
James Davis has a lot of room for improvement, but he has the fluidity and agility that most big 7-footers lack. He will need to make a lot of progress in the coming months to his defense, rebounding, and weight. Davis is a 21 year old junior who will turn 22 right around the 2007 draft. He has the option of using his draft card this year to see if he can create a buzz around his name. Big men are always in high demand in the NBA, and Davis has the potential to some day make an impact at the NBA level, granted he manages to shed a good amount of weight and then keep it off.