Sunday, March 3, 2024

Davis, Nelson Jr. lead returning core aiming to defend CAA title

SportsMen's BasketballDavis, Nelson Jr. lead returning core aiming to defend CAA title

Managing Sports Editor

Jyáre Davis was Delaware’s best-kept secret last year. Now, he and coach Martin Ingelsby both know opponents will no longer be caught off guard by the 6-foot-7-inch redshirt sophomore.

Davis bloomed into a matchup nightmare for opposing Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) teams last season. After 11 games with double-digits off the bench, the star Providence transfer finally received the starting nod as a Blue Hen in the conference tournament.

“This year’s going to be a lot different, I’m not going to surprise anybody,” Davis said at Delaware’s Media Day last week. “I’m going to have a lot of teams game plan for me.”

That level of attention from opposing coaches and players is deserved for the Sanford High School, a Delaware private school, product, who was named the CAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Davis shined in three games in Washington, D.C., averaging over 16 points per game and boasting a field goal rate above 50%.

“Just continually being willing to make the right play,” Davis said of Ingelsby’s advice to combat opponents’ game plans. “It [could] be a little frustrating not getting clean looks I would like to get, but being willing to continue to make the right pass.”

The team lost post stalwarts Dylan Painter (graduated) and Andrew Carr (Wake Forest), but were picked to finish third in the CAA Preseason Poll last week. Davis, last year’s CAA Rookie of the Year, was named to the Preseason Second Team.

In the backcourt, Jameer Nelson Jr. received Preseason First Team honors. The redshirt junior is expected to become the team’s main point guard after the departures of Ryan Allen and Kevin Anderson. 

Ingelsby pointed to three-point specialist Ebby Asamoah, La Salle transfer Christian Ray and UMBC transfer LJ Owens (43% from deep) as key pieces for Delaware’s backcourt alongside Nelson.

In the paint, Ingelsby made a bevy of additions to stock up on size next to Davis. True freshmen Houston Emory and Gabe Moss join the program, along with 6-foot-9-inch graduate transfer Nigel Shadd.

“Nigel’s going to be a big help for us, he’s a big, strong body that we’ll definitely need out there,” Davis said.

Towson topped the conference rankings, receiving 12 of 13 first-place votes and sporting three returning starters on the All-CAA Preseason First Team. Hofstra edged the Blue Hens out for second, and will look to compete for a conference title behind Preseason Player of the Year Aaron Estrada.

But it will be the Blue Hens, led by Davis and Nelson, vying to defend their CAA Championship and NCAA tournament autobid. Ingelsby said he wants his team to compete for a regular season championship this year – a mark of consistency last year’s team did not reach.

For Davis, garnering more attention from defenses does not add pressure, nor does attempting to defend Delaware’s spot at the top of the CAA.

“You can look at it as pressure, but you can also look at the opportunity to just continue what we started last year and take a step forward to build on it.”

2022-23 CAA Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll

Rank.Team (1st-place votes)Points
1.Towson (12)144
4.Charleston (1)119
8.William & Mary52
9.Stony Brook50
11.North Carolina A&T35




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