With a team full of newcomers, Southern Miss will be hard- pressed to find much continuity. Its leading scorer from last year, Chip Armelin, graduated and their leading assist man, Matt Bingaya, also left for greener pastures elsewhere on the collegiate level.
The Golden Eagles are looking for a leader that has been in the locker room for some time. That leader does not even have to be one that played a lot of minutes for the team last year. Enter Eddie Davis III.
“(Davis III’s) a really energetic player; he gets down there and bangs a lot,” said freshman Tim Rowe. “He’s a hustle player.”
After suffering an injury just four games into his freshman season, Davis III went down for the season.
The injury could have set him back and prevented him from making an impact as a Golden Eagle for years to come, but he never stopped pushing that envelope.
“Not only did he not play last year in games, he didn’t get to practice,” said head coach Doc Sadler. “He didn’t even get to start playing until July.”
Look at his statistical impact from those four games, and one would be surprised at anyone who thinks that Davis will have an impact this year. He averaged less than one point per game 1.3 rebounds and zero assists a game.
But it is not always about the statistics on the page. His impact in the locker room and relentless attitude on the floor is what makes him special.
“We feed off his energy,” said redshirt senior Kourtlin Jackson. “He’s vocal and he’s one of the leaders on our team.”
One of the only post players this year, Davis III will be relied on to give quality minutes down low. He already has a soft touch, which he showed in the early going against Millsaps. Davis III has become a leader, and he will have to lead young players like Rowe, from the early going.
For Davis, he is one of only seven returning players from last year’s make-shift roster, which had only six players to dress out at times.
But this year, things will be different for a Southern Miss squad as it aims to be respectable once again in Conference USA. That begins with the mentality of doing things the right way and Davis III is the spokesperson on this team for that.
“We’re not going to be good enough, big enough or any of those things to just go play somebody,” Sadler said. “We’re going to have to control the game and you do that when you have the ball in your hands.”
This year, Davis may not average a double- double. He may not average over 20 minutes a game. What he will do is provide a constant presence and player accountability that a program with so many newcomers like Southern Miss needs.