With so many exciting new pieces joining a loaded Arkansas basketball roster, it could be easy to get lost in the shuffle. One such player getting overlooked in most preseason projections is Jeremiah Davenport.
The Cincinnati transfer shouldn’t be counted out as a potentially vital piece for the Razorbacks in 2023-24, though. He is one of six newcomers with multiple seasons of collegiate experience at Eric Musselman’s disposal – a group that joins five key returners and two highly-touted freshmen.
Davenport spent four years at Cincinnati after growing up a fan of the Bearcats. He proved his loyalty after the 2021 season when the program was going through a coaching change and losing players to the transfer portal. During April of that offseason, Davenport suddenly lost his father who was only 55 years old.
“My dad taught me so much,” Davenport said of his late father. “Just who he was kept me so motivated, kept me strong, and [now] living my life for him and for God…I can still hear his voice. Little things he said when I was growing up are always in the back of my head. I’d be a fool if I didn’t go out there and compete for him. I use that as motivation.”
Davenport was one of only four players averaging at least 19 minutes to return to Cincinnati amid the coaching change, finding the resolve to do so in his late father. He went on to have the best season of his career so far, averaging 13.4 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting nearly 36% from long range on 7.2 attempts per game during the 2021-22 season.
For reference, the last time Arkansas had anyone close to those shooting numbers was in 2018-19 when a freshman Isaiah Joe hit 41% of his 8.0 long-range attempts per game. Joe almost exceeded those marks again in 2019-20 when he shot 34% on 10.2 attempts alongside Mason Jones’ 35% on 6.3 attempts per game.
Jeremiah Davenport Player Breakdown
Jeremiah Davenport makes his living from beyond the 3-point line. In his four-year career, more than 65% of his shot attempts have come from behind the arc, including nearly 73% of his shot attempts during the 2022-23 season.
“I feel like I can bring a lot of shooting to the team,” Davenport said. “I can really shoot the ball. I can make plays for my teammates. I’m versatile. I can be in the post. I’m a high energy guy. Just an all-around big guard.”
For reference, Joseph Pinion is the only Razorback who took more than 40% of his total shot attempts from long range last season (72%), and JD Notae only took 42% of his total shots from 3-point range two seasons ago.
Davenport has hit three or more 3-pointers in a game 40 times during his 109-game career, including hitting six or more 3-pointers four times – the most recent of which came against Wichita State in January of 2023 when he scored 22 points on 6-of-9 shooting from distance.
During his four years with the Bearcats, he started 61 games and averaged just under 10 points to go along with 4.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists. He scored 20 points or more nine times in his career, including a career-high 27-point outing against Tulane in February of 2021.
Clearly, the big guard can light it up from distance at times. He provides a level of shooting that Arkansas severely lacked last season while also adding a 6-foot-7 frame to the roster. That type of size brings a versatility that Musselman covets. Jalen Tate, Moses Moody, Anthony Black and Jordan Walsh are just a few of the players of a similar stature who have found success under Musselman at Arkansas. Going back to Musselman’s time at Nevada, Caleb and Cody Martin (6-foot-5) were versatile big guards who found success in the NBA.
Aside from his size and offensive prowess, Davenport brings to Fayetteville a certain level of experience, another aspect that the Hogs were lacking last season. Nine of the 13 active players on the Razorbacks’ roster have at least three years of college experience, but Davenport is entering his fifth and final year.
“This is my last year, so I’m constantly in the gym,” Davenport said recently. “I’m showing the young guys, talking to them, preparing them for when they get to where I’m at with the things I’ve learned since I was a freshman. I’m constantly trying to make myself better and make my teammates better by doing the right things as an older guy on the team.”
Fitting into the 2023-24 Arkansas Basketball Rotation
One of the few downsides of joining arguably the deepest roster in the country, and perhaps the deepest Eric Musselman has ever had, is knowing that someone has to be the odd man left out of the main rotation.
Some coaches run 10-11 guys on a night-to-night basis, but Musselman has been known to limit his core to 8-9 players. That leaves little margin for error when all 13 scholarship players have a chance at minutes this season.
With nearly an entirely new roster yet again this year, it’s virtually impossible to predict exactly what the core rotation will look like. We can, however, break down individual groups of players and analyze the possible roles each player could fulfill should their number be called. Let’s start with the groups where Jeremiah Davenport isn’t likely to challenge for minutes.
There are few guarantees for Arkansas’ upcoming rotation, but it’s a safe bet to assume Davonte Davis will continue to build upon his role from each of the last two seasons. After that, question marks start surfacing in the backcourt. Tramon Mark seems like the most likely of the transfers to earn a role thanks to his versatility and defensive prowess – both attributes Musselman prioritizes.
El Ellis and Layden Blocker will likely be battling for minutes at both guard positions, as well. Throw in Khalif Battle and Joseph Pinion and it’s unlikely that Davenport will find himself spending much time at either guard position this season.
The big man rotation seems slightly more concrete with the return of Trevon Brazile, Makhi Mitchell and Jalen Graham. Sure, Baye Fall could contend with those three for minutes, especially as he adjusts to the college game later in the season, but it’s safe to say that Davenport won’t be seeing any center minutes either.
That essentially leaves Davenport, Chandler Lawson and Denijay Harris to contend for minutes at both forward positions. It’s a very realistic possibility that Mark and Brazile start at the three and the four, leaving only back-up forward minutes available, but to reiterate, nothing is set in stone this early in the season with Musselman.
Lawson and Harris both provide a level of defense that Davenport hasn’t shown during his time in college so far, but he’s a far better shooter than both players, even after considering a notable decrease in the Cincinnati transfer’s 3-point percentage last season – from 37.8% as a sophomore to 33.0% as a senior. Lawson and Harris, meanwhile, have combined to shoot 12 of 30 from beyond the arc in their seven combined years of DI experience.
It’s easy to see the path for Davenport to develop an instant-offense role off the bench alongside players like Ellis or Battle should one of them not earn a starting role considering defensive-oriented players like Davis, Mark and Mitchell will likely still be sprinkled into lineups with the reserves. In fact, it may be necessary for the Hogs to lean more into their offensive weapons when bringing in the bench unit alongside the three defensive-minded players listed.
Even in a worst-case scenario for Davenport, if someone like Lawson beats him out for the end of the rotation, he’s still in a perfect position to fill the role that players like Pinion and Graham did last season. Both rose to the occasion multiple times last season against SEC teams when their numbers were called. If Davenport isn’t an every-night player, he can still step up in a pinch and scorch an unsuspecting defense with 10-13 quick points off the bench with his long-range capabilities.
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