Larry Davis was the first recruit from the class of 2007 to commit to Mick Cronin, and the Cincinnati Bearcats' guard is now adjusting to life as a college basketball player. Bearcat Insider spoke to Larry prior to Thursday's practice.
Larry Davis was the first of the 2007 recruiting class to believe in what Mick Cronin and his staff were building at Cincinnati when he verbally committed to become a Bearcat. Now the Houston native is on campus and adjusting to college life and college basketball. Larry was asked if he was pleased with the progress he's made. "Yeah. I'm pleased with the way I've been playing since I came off an injury (knee). I've been working hard, and it's paying off. In college basketball, freshmen need to make adjustments, and I feel I'm adjusting really well. I'm still making mistakes, but I'm learning from them."
After Monday's victory over South Carolina Upstate, Coach Cronin praised Larry's effort and compared Davis to a sponge because of the way he's been soaking up the coaching. That effort combined with a coachable attitude helped Larry earn 23 minutes of playing time and the chance to get 15 points, his high game for the young season.
The Texas kid may be living in the Queen City, but he's not overly enamored with some of the traditional cuisine. Larry made a funny face when I asked about Cincinnati style chili, and identified his favorite restaurant as he smiled and wet his lips with his tongue. "(Cincy) Steak and Lemonade. That's my favorite."
Counting a couple exhibition games, Larry is eight games into his college career. He listed some of the differences between high school and college basketball. "It's much more physical and much faster. You have to be smart with the ball."
Davis has always been a scorer and feels most comfortable as a shooting guard. With Jamual Warren's injury, Larry has had to go outside his comfort zone. "When I was in high school, I never played point guard so I'm learning to handle the ball and take control. I'm used to the two guard, but I still need to get more used to the fast pace of the games."
The 6' 3" guard is very soft spoken and still getting used to being in the spotlight as a Bearcat basketball player. Since almost every Bearcat basketball game is televised locally, fans are starting to recognize Larry, and he's not sure how he feels about that. "Some people do recognize me. It's alright. I like the fans but know I have to keep working hard."
With Saturday's game at UAB, it will be another new experience for Larry since it will be the Bearcats' first game away from Fifth Third Arena. He knows it won't be easy. "I'm expecting a hard game. We're going to have to give it all we've got."
Despite missing the NCAA tournament for the last two seasons, Larry is well aware of the reputation of Bearcat basketball and understands the frustration some Cincinnati fans feel about the 4-2 start against lesser competition. "We should have beat those teams. I feel like we didn't play hard enough, and we weren't playing as a team. Now we're coming together and playing together."
Larry knows his well regarded recruiting class will serve as the foundation in returning Bearcat basketball to national prominence, but he and his classmates don't want to be patient. "We talk about the past sometimes, but we're really more focused on winning this year. We're not concerned with what might happen in the future. We want to win now."
This young man had plenty of other college options including scholarship offers from Texas A&M, Boston College, Arizona State, Utah, Miami and Iowa State among several others, but he's pleased with his decision to become a Bearcat because of one man. "I wanted to come in here and play for Coach Cronin. He's a great coach. He makes sure we learn. He's down to earth, and he's a good teacher. He helps correct your mistakes."
His hometown of Houston is a long way away, and Larry's parents haven't yet seen their son play in person, but that will change on Saturday. "They cam to the Fan Jam, but they'll be in Alabama this weekend."
Because he couldn't go home for Thanksgiving, Larry spent the holiday with his basketball family, but he wasn't quite sure who all that included. "Coach Cronin took us somewhere to eat. I think it was one of his family members. We had turkey."
After the UAB game on Saturday, the Bearcats travel to Illinois State and Xavier. Larry admitted he knew very little about the Musketeers and the Crosstown Shootout rivalry, but he has seen Memphis play. "I don't know much about Xavier or the rivalry, but I've seen Memphis on TV, and they're pretty good. We're going to have to play a really good game against them."
Larry considers himself to be a scorer and feels he has to get points in a variety of ways. "If I miss three in a row, I keep shooting and feel I will hit the next shot. I want to be able to hit the three and be able to drive to the hoop." If the Bearcats are to have a successful year, they will likely need more of Larry's attitude and Larry's scoring.