Bigger And Better

Much of the emphasis on the physique of basketball players is height. But while being nearly seven feet tall gives one an advantage over smaller players, just being tall isn't good enough at the college level. That was obvious to Jermareo Davidson as a 6-10, 200-pound freshman at Alabama last year.

Jermareo Davidson is still not the thickest guy around, but he has added a little bulk. "You can't be 6-10 and 200 and play in this league," Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried said. Jermareo spent the off-season working hard in the weight room and is now up to about 225. And it shows.

And a year of experience is also beginning to show. Last year Davidson averaged only 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He had only three games in which he turned in double figures in scoring, including a best effort of 15 points in the Crimson Tide's win at Auburn. Still, he was good enough as a starter on Bama's Elite Eight team to earn Freshman All-Southeastern Conference.

This year he has already had two double-doubles, games in which he had double figures in both scoring and rebounding. The latest was in Bama's dramatic triple overtime victory Saturday night at North Carolina-Charlotte. Although he was one of three Alabama starters to foul out of that game (going out in the third overtime), Davidson was a key to Bama staying in the game early. And he finished with eight-of-10 field goal shooting and five-of-six free throw success for a career-high 21 points. He also pulled down 13 rebounds in that contest.

Davidson said his weight was never a factor in his prep days, at Wheeler High in Atlanta as a senior and at Stone Mountain High in his sophomore and junior seasons. He dominated opponents, setting school records for most blocked shots and rebounds. He led his team to a Georgia state championship as a senior.

In college however, the players are bigger and stronger, and the game is played much faster. The experience he gained as a freshman is invaluable as he is back for his second season as a Crimson Tide starter.

"I was able to see how aggressive, fast paced, and good the competition could be," Davidson, who celebrated his 20th birthday November 15, said. "I'm experienced now, so I'm working on trying to get prepared for it all."

At the end of last season, Davidson felt there were areas that he needed to improve on. Gaining some weight was his top priority, followed closely by figuring out how he could put more points on the board.

"I needed to work on strength first of all, and also rebounding," Davidson said. "In addition, I'm trying to become a scoring threat."

To gain the weight and strength needed to compete against other big men on the college level, Davidson had to put in a lot of work in the weight room.

Davidson, who has a timed 5:45 mile run, said, "I think the weight gain will help more than harm my endurance. I'm basically trying to run the floor more so I can create easy shots."

Davidson feels like the opportunity to score more this season is in direct relation to how much effort he gives on the court. It's this effort that he hopes will turn him into more of an offensive threat.

"To create shots, I have to play hard all the time," Davidson said. "The more effort I give, the more chances I'm going to get."

Even though putting on weight is an important step in dominating inside the paint, the area where Davidson usually can be found, it takes time for a player to gain the proper strength needed to succeed against other big men.

Improvement is coming steadily for Davidson as he leads the team in rebounds per game with 7.6 and has improved his points per game average to 9.0. Expect him to get better every game as the weight he has put on slowly starts to pay dividends.

"The weight training has helped out, but everybody else is still stronger than me, so I can't see the results as much," Davidson said. "However, I'm starting to feel it more every game."

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