Eleven. Twelve. And twelve.
With those numbers against Providence Wednesday night, Xavier junior Myles Davis joined a group that includes just two Musketeer legends, Tu Holloway and David F. West, as the only players in school history to record a triple-double. Davis’ was the first since Holloway posted 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists at Fordham on February 19, 2011.
“It’s amazing,” Davis said. “It’s a great feeling to have – something you try to knock off your bucket list as a basketball player. It feels good to have the opportunity to get it. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and Coach Mack giving me the opportunity to play that much.”
On a night where Xavier controlled the game from the opening minutes and cruised to a double-digit win over the Friars, 85-74, Davis’ performance wasn’t that flashy or exciting. It was a “grind-it-out and get out of here with a win” triple-double. He was just doing what the team needed.
It’s what Xavier fans have come to expect from him. His role and overall game aren’t easy to describe. Depending on what the team needs at a given time, he’s a shooter, a distributor, a charge-taker, a rebounder, etc.
Head coach Chris Mack summed it up pretty well with one word.
“The word that comes to mind when I think of Myles is ‘teammate’,” Mack said.
In fact, in many ways he’s the perfect teammate for this group. And because of that, he’s become their leader, at least as much as this self-motivated unit needs one.
“I don’t think anyone watching him could ever accuse him of looking off teammates - He always tries to make the right play,” Mack said. “That’s a terrific quality. It makes guys really want to play with him. He makes us a much better team that way. He’s come light years as a defender. He’s a heck of a player, and probably overlooked by a lot of people just because he doesn’t really wow you with athleticism. He certainly shoots the ball at a high rate, but he’s much more than a shooter.”
During his high school days, Davis made his name on the AAU circuit as one of the top shooters in the country, but he always played with an IQ and toughness that made him a better prospect than your typical spot-up shooter. The Musketeers recruited him when they were in desperate need of more skill following a couple years with little to no outside shooting threats. The reason he’s worked out so well since arriving on campus is because he’s lived up to that reputation as a shooter without needing to be a volume guy that requires a bunch of shots to get in a rhythm. He’ll go an entire half without scoring, and then make multiple clutch shots in the closing minutes. And when he’s not hitting shots, he’s still performing well in other areas.
This is why he pairs so well with the personnel around him. Opponents have to respect his range, which helps space the floor for isolation scorers like Edmond Sumner, Trevon Bluiett, JP Macura, and the big men. Plus, defenders can’t rely on running him off the 3-point line with a hard closeout at the last second because he’s a legitimate playmaking threat when he’s penetrating and breaking down the defense. He doesn’t rely on his teammates to create shots for him on kick-outs. Instead, he makes them better by trying to set them up for good looks. His feel and IQ for the game have helped cover up most any of the Musketeers’ warts associated with playing young point guards this season, and he kept the team rolling along during the three games Sumner missed with a concussion.
“I think he’s their smartest player,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “He’s their leader; by far their best overall thinker. He’s the captain of their ship.”
While opponents may recognize Davis’ importance, as Cooley insisted after the game, the reality is they still have to matchup with his more physically gifted teammates playing on either side of him too. The choice is theirs – put the best defender on Davis and watch him setup and defer to his bigger and more athletic teammates, or put the best defender on his teammates and watch Davis score more and still try to setup his running mates.
It’s tough to describe Davis and where he fits in on this team. He’s not an unsung hero by any means, but his selfless playing style coinciding with a talented era of Xavier hoops makes it so that he’ll likely never be the top attraction or most-talked about player on the team either.
“We certainly don’t undervalue him, but we have other good players and we also have a togetherness about our team, an unselfishness that moves the ball, and I think when that happens we’re a tough team to defend,” Mack said. “How far Myles has come, I don’t know if Xavier fans can appreciate it. When he first came here, he was a little chubby guy, and had to sit out the year as a freshman, which was incredibly hard for both he and Jalen to just be students – not even attend practice or be around our guys in the weight room, nothing. To see the type of player he’s blossomed into…”
In the moment Davis may not get quite as much love as some of his teammates, but long-term he’s put himself in position to leave his name among the Xavier greats. He’ll use all four years of his eligibility at X, he’s been a fairly significant contributor since his freshman year (839 career points), and the Musketeers should win a lot of games this season and next. If he helps lead them on a deep tournament run, Wednesday night won’t be the last time we mention Myles Davis in the same breath as some of the best players in school history.