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Davis primed to become Raptors’ next out-of-nowhere success story

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TSN Raptors Reporter


Like most Toronto Raptors fans, Fred VanVleet had to do some research when the defending champs signed Ole Miss product Terence Davis over the summer.

How familiar was he with his newest teammate?

“I never heard of him,” VanVleet admitted. “I didn’t know who he was. I don’t watch a lot of college basketball anymore, so I hadn’t heard of him.”

VanVleet quickly realized they had a few things in common. They both had successful four-year college careers. They both entered the pre-draft process under the radar, fighting to prove themselves. They both turned down multiple opportunities to hear their names called on draft night and, in the end, they both went unselected.

VanVleet met Davis for the first time at a team workout in Los Angeles. It was late July, shortly after Toronto had officially signed the 22-year-old guard, and the veteran Raptor was intrigued.

“I just wanted to meet him,” VanVleet said. “We talked a bit. He had good energy and I saw he’s a pretty good player as well. He asked a lot of questions. He was like, ‘If there’s anything you could tell me or show me, please do.’ So we talked a little bit and then I invited him to dinner.”

VanVleet took him to Craig’s in West Hollywood. Dinner conversation included some basketball talk, but mostly they spoke about life.

“I tried to learn more about him, personally, and just build that friendship,” VanVleet said.

So Davis told him his story.


Growing up in Southaven, Miss., Davis started playing basketball at age six. When he turned 10 he picked up a football. He was a star wide receiver in high school. By the time he graduated he had a decision to make. He received 20 scholarship offers to go play football, but instead committed to Ole Miss for the sport he calls his “first love.”

In his freshman year he began to wonder if he had chosen the wrong path. He wasn’t playing much and was averaging just over a point per game for the Rebels. Had he made a mistake?

“I was already getting backlash for not deciding to play football from friends and colleagues,” Davis told TSN last week. “That’s when I really told myself that I can’t let these people be right. I really locked in on getting in the gym and getting better and putting the effort and the time into the game of basketball.”

“That was the first time he fully devoted himself to basketball so his skill set really improved,” said Andy Kennedy, the former Rebels coach, who was at Ole Miss for Davis’ first three college seasons. “His body changed. He was always a big, strong kid, but his body changed to more basketball-centric movements. As a result, he earned his way into the rotation and really exploded that sophomore year.”

In his second season, Davis averaged 14.9 points and 5.3 rebounds in just over 25 minutes a night. It reaffirmed to him that he was on that right track and that his childhood dream of getting drafted and making the NBA was attainable.

When he declared for the draft following his senior campaign he did so without much fanfare. Davis was slotted in the 80s on ESPN’s list of top-100 draft prospects.

Some teams wondered where he would fit as an NBA player, even in this positionless era. He’s not a........