EAST LANSING – Tom Izzo forged his relationship with Deyonta Davis before the Muskegon native blossomed into one of the nation’s blue-chip high school recruits.
Michigan State’s talented freshman now is a rising star in NBA draft circles. One-and-done looks like a possibility.
ESPN’s Chad Ford on Tuesday ranked Davis as his 17th-best prospect for the June draft. Website NBADraft.net, in its rankings that were updated Friday, pegs the forward as the No. 12 pick to the Washington Wizards.
And Izzo would have no problem with Davis leaving after one season.
With a caveat. Davis has to be ready.
“Hey, I hope at the end of the year, he’s a lottery pick. I hope he’s a top-five pick and, if he’s mentally ready to go, he goes,” Izzo said Tuesday. “That means we had a hell of a year. He had a hell of a year. … But I’m also leery of what people around say, so we’ll combat that.”
Davis hasn’t started any of MSU’s 17 games, but he is averaging 8.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 17.1 minutes, shooting 65.7% from the field. He has blocked 36 shots, which is already a record for a Spartan freshman.
“I think Deyonta Davis is going to be the best big man to play here in a lotta, lotta, lotta, lotta lotta years,” Izzo said. “I also think he’s got a lot of growth right now. … My goal would be, with Deyonta Davis — if it’s next week, next month or next year or a year from now — is if he’s ready physically, mentally, that’s when he should go to the next level. But remember, there’s more than one dimension.”
Ford wrote that the 6-foot-10 Davis’ long wingspan makes him “a menace in the paint” in a draft devoid of shot-blocking talent and that his midrange jump shot is enticing.
Izzo countered with Davis’ foul problems, which have limited his time on the court in recent games, as a sign more development is needed. Davis said he needs to improve his all-around game.
“It just means I gotta keep working,” said Davis, who said he hadn’t seen Ford’s projections. “I expect more. But it (the draft rankings) doesn’t matter.”