Even after landing three players from the transfer portal in a little more than a week, Eric Musselman isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. The latest addition for Arkansas basketball is Jeremiah Davenport from Cincinnati.
The 6-foot-7 forward announced Thursday morning that he would use his final season of collegiate eligibility with the Razorbacks.
He joins a transfer haul that already includes Keyon Menifield Jr. from Washington, Tramon Mark from Houston and Khalif Battle from Temple. Three of the four – everyone except Menifield – hail from the American Athletic Conference, the same league that produced Ricky Council IV last offseason.
Davenport was a 1,000-point scorer over his four-year career at Cincinnati and comes from a family of hoopers, as both of his parents and three of his siblings played Division I basketball.
His mom, Sheila, played at Morehead State and dad, Darren, played at Alcorn State. Both of his brothers, Michael and Joshua, went to St. Bonaventure and Winthrop, respectively, while one of his sisters, Naomi, played at West Virginia.
Interestingly, this is the second time a John Brannen-coached player has transferred to Arkansas. Brannen recruited and coached Jalen Tate at Northern Kentucky before getting hired at Cincinnati, where his first recruiting win was landing Davenport.
Jeremiah Davenport at Cincinnati
The journey to Cincinnati was a bit unconventional for Jeremiah Davenport.
A local kid and standout player at Moeller High School, he actually committed to Wright State before his senior year. However, academic struggles led to him reclassifying to the Class of 2019 and doing a prep year at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia.
He garnered some ACC attention, including an offer from Virginia Tech, but he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to return home and play for the Bearcats, the team he grew up cheering for.
As a freshman, Davenport was a reserve who appeared in only 18 of 30 games and averaged just 1.9 points in 6.8 minutes when he did play. Over the last three years, though, he made 61 starts and averaged 11.3 points in 26.8 minutes.
Despite not being projected to be much of a factor his sophomore year, Davenport evolved into a starter and major contributor in 2020-21. He finished second on the team in scoring (11.7 ppg) and rebounding (5.0 rpg).
That offseason, Cincinnati fired head coach John Brennan and Davenport’s father died unexpectedly. Coming off a breakout season, it was the perfect storm for a transfer, but he stuck with his hometown school.
As a full-time starter his junior year, Davenport led the Bearcats in rebounding (5.5 rpg) and finished second in scoring (13.4 ppg) again. He didn’t come close to those numbers in an early-season matchup with the Razorbacks, though.
A day after he went off for 19 points and 7 rebounds in an upset win over Illinois, Arkansas held Davenport scoreless in a 73-67 win in the championship of the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City. He missed all four of his shots, grabbed just one rebound and had two turnovers in 22 minutes.
This past season, Davenport lost his spot in the starting rotation early in conference play and ended up having a sixth-man role the rest of the year. However, he maintained a good attitude and actually scored 22 points while shooting 6 of 9 from deep in his first game off the bench against Wichita State.
His overall numbers dipped, but he still averaged a respectable 9.1 points and 4.2 rebounds in 25.6 minutes. He did that while shooting 35.1% from the floor, including 33.0% from beyond the arc, and 83.0% from the charity stripe.
When he decided to enter the transfer portal to use his extra year of eligibility from the pandemic elsewhere, Cincinnati basketball coach Wes Miller went out of his way to issue a statement about his departure, so he was obviously a well-liked player.
“For the last four years, Jeremiah has worn the Bearcat uniform with passion and pride,” Miller said. “Although we’ll miss him, we wish him well as he pursues his last year of eligibility elsewhere. A Cincinnati native that cares deeply about this community and this program, JD will always be a Bearcat.”
What Davenport Brings to Arkansas Basketball
The first thing that jumps out on the stat sheet with Jeremiah Davenport is that he is a high-volume 3-point shooter who doesn’t exactly connect at a high rate but can be streaky.
He is a career 34.7% shooter on 5.4 attempts per game. Since showing potential to be an elite shooter as a sophomore, when he shot 37.8% on 5.5 attempts, his percentage has decreased each year – to 35.9% on 7.2 attempts as a junior and 33.0% on 6.1 attempts this past season.
What doesn’t necessarily show up in a box score, though, is the energy he brings to the floor. He’s always clapping, slapping the floor and diving for loose balls. Those are the kind of things a coach like Eric Musselman loves.
At the same time, Davenport has never been afraid to shoot and has struggled defensively throughout his career, leading to The Athletic’s Justin Williams to describe him as “frustrating yet mesmerizing, often on alternating possessions.”
“He’s a skilled and willing shooter who can stretch the floor and score in bunches,” Williams wrote in February. “He’s also prone to defensive lapses that can stymie a game plan and ill-advised shot attempts that spoil possessions and disrupt his team’s offensive flow.”
To his credit, Davenport’s game seemed to evolve after moving to the bench his senior year. He showed more effort on defense and displayed some restraint on ill-advised shots, all while passing more and attacking the glass.
Over the final 21 games of the season, he shot 35.4% from 3-point range, and that included going 0 for 8 in the last two games. Prior to those two NIT games, he shot 37.8% over a 19-game stretch.
His rebounding increased from 3.5 per game in 15 starts to 4.7 per game in 21 games off the bench. He had at least one offensive rebound in all but five of the games he didn’t start and had 12 games with at least five total rebounds, highlighted by a 9-rebound game against SMU in which he scored only two points.
The streaky shooting and defensive struggles may make it hard for Davenport to get consistent minutes for Musselman, but there is a role for effort on the boards and a willingness to do whatever it takes to win — as Kamani Johnson showed this year.
“When he takes the floor, he just wants Cincinnati to win basketball games,” Cincinnati coach Wes Miller said at one point this season. “If they were all like that every day, coaching is pretty easy. And he’s fun to coach.”
It also doesn’t hurt that Davenport has the proven ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc considering Arkansas has been among the worst 3-point shooting teams in the country the last two years, ranking 328th and 326th in 3-point percentage.
Arkansas Basketball Roster for 2023-24
The addition of Jeremiah Davenport briefly put Arkansas one above the NCAA scholarship limit for Division I men’s basketball of 13 players. That was before multiple reports came out on Friday that 6’6″ guard/forward Barry Dunning had entered the transfer portal. The development is no surprised given all of the Razorbacks’ incoming transfers over the last few days.
Dunning’s departure makes it more likely that Davonte Davis and/or Jordan Walsh will return for another season with the Hogs.
Davis has already declared for the NBA Draft, but is keeping his options open for a potential return to college, while Walsh has yet to announce his intentions for next year, but is a borderline first-/second-round pick.
It is also possible that Makhi Mitchell, who hasn’t made any sort of announcement either, could follow his twin brother into the transfer portal or pursue professional opportunities.
Everyone else from last year’s team has confirmed their plans for next season.
- Jalen Graham — super senior
- Makhi Mitchell — super senior (yet to announce his decision)
- Jeremiah Davenport — super senior (transfer from Cincinnati)
- Davonte Davis — senior (testing NBA Draft waters)
- Tramon Mark — redshirt junior (transfer from Houston)
- Khalif Battle — redshirt junior (transfer from Temple)
- Trevon Brazile — redshirt sophomore
- Jordan Walsh — sophomore (yet to announce his decision)
- Keyon Menifield Jr. — sophomore (transfer from Washington)
- Joseph Pinion — sophomore
- Derrian Ford — sophomore
- Layden Blocker — freshman (2023 signee)
- Baye Fall — freshman (2023 signee)
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