A graduate of T. C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, Mike Davis now has a year under his belt, and that should make a big difference. Making a last-second decision to attend Illinois rather than a prep school set him back last year as he was behind his fellow freshmen.
Davis never really caught on to the intricacies of the motion offense last year. Defense and rebounding weren't strengths for him either. The hard work the team did in the spring and summer helped him catch up, but he admits his first year was a rough one.
"Yes it was. But we have some experience now this year. We know what to expect, so we're gonna go in there and fight."
Mike's slender frame also posed a problem. He was pushed around by rugged Big Ten post players and limited to averages of 2.6 points and 1.8 rebounds for his first season. He has worked hard to improve his strength and weight.
"I'm up to 212 right now, so I gained 12 pounds this offseason."
Even though he is still only a sophomore, Davis' improved confidence is obvious. One rugged year helped mold his character and his game. He had to grow up quickly.
"Exactly. I'm trying to be more vocal and become a leader for some guys. I feel like some guys look up to me right now, so I'm just trying to be a vocal leader this year."
Mike wants to expand his minutes of game action this season, and playing more than one position can help with that.
"I feel like I can play the 3, 4 and 5. I might see some time at all those positions this year."
Davis has already displayed an excellent touch on shots out to 18 feet, and he could become a force offensively with his midrange game. But he knows Coach Weber expects him to improve his rebounding and defense as well.
"We've got to play hard. We've got to box out, fight and use our athleticism a little more this year. Shorties can't lead the rebounding this year. I've got to lead it. I've got to box out, be strong in the post. Me and Dominique (Keller) have to hold down the rebounding."
Mike can also run the floor, and he believes Coach Weber will want the team to push the ball whenever possible.
"I think this year we're gonna run. I think Coach wants to get out and run a little bit more. Get some quick points and highlights to get the crowd back into it. Up and down more this year."
With his skill set, Mike can definitely help the Illini this year. If he develops an aggressive streak to accompany his natural gifts, he could eventually be dominant.