Devin Davis: Indiana's X-Factor?

Indiana sophomore Devin Davis will have to play a big role for the Hoosiers this year. He could just be the piece that makes Indiana whole.

When Devin Davis committed to Indiana, there's little chance he considered one day being the Hoosiers' starting center.

But as we near the start of the 2014-15 season, that has become a real possibility. With Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh gone to the NBA, the Hoosiers are thin up front. Davis may just be Tom Crean's best option inside.

Sure, Hanner Mosquera-Perea is still on the roster, and I fully expect him to be Indiana's starter to begin the season. But long term, I think Davis is the guy. He's undersized at 6-foot-7, but he's strong, and he has a knack for finding the basketball, both on the offensive and defensive glass.

Davis has the potential to be a relentless rebounder, a guy that can average 10 boards a game despite giving up some size to every guy he defends.

“He missed a week with us," Crean said Monday. "He started coming back into shape the middle of last week. There’s a point where he was overweight, so he was getting some weight down. He got sick, so he lost the weight, now he’s gotta get his wind back. But he can be, inch-for-inch, as good defensively as any guy on our team.”

Davis isn't a great scorer, but you don't need your center to be that when you have great guard play. For Indiana to be successful, Crean must find a guy that can rebound and defend at a high level. I believe Davis can be that guy.

And while Davis can't create his own offense, he can certainly clean up the missed opportunities of others. With guys like Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr., Troy Williams and others demanding so much attention from the defense, Davis should get easy opportunities around the basket. He's a strong finisher when he gets it inside, something I see as a current weakness for Mosquera-Perea.

“It’s all about understanding your role," Crean said. "‘You wanna score? Rebound. You wanna score? Run the floor. You wanna score? Be able to get free and go up strong.’ And the thing about him is he can drive the ball so well. He’s gotten so much better with that. He’s a multi-purpose guy all the way across on both ends.”

During Indiana's foreign trip to Montreal in August, Davis spent time bringing the ball up the floor for the Hoosiers. The coaching staff has really worked with him on his ball handling, meaning he should be able to drive the ball from the top of the key like Zeller used to do.

“I’ve improved offensively just being able to drive the ball from different areas on the floor, being able to handle the ball, and make passes when I do drive the ball," Davis said.

There's no doubt Indiana is thin up front, and that will be a topic of discussion throughout the upcoming season. But Davis will be a significant contributor for the Hoosiers inside this year. He could just be Indiana's X-Factor.

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