Deyonta Davis (born December 2, 1996) is an American basketball player who plays for the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA. He was a four-star recruit and signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Michigan State Spartans in 2015–16. Davis was recruited with the help of the team's head coach, Tom Izzo. He was amongst the best players in the Class of 2015, winning Mr. Basketball of Michigan in 2015 and appearing in the McDonald's All-American Boys Game the same year. On April 12, 2016, Davis announced he would forgo his sophomore season and enter the draft.
High school career
Davis attended Muskegon High School in Muskegon, Michigan. In his final season, he recorded 4 points and 12 rebounds in the state regional finals, as Muskegon escaped Hudsonville in quadruple-overtime. He played his final game for the Big Reds on March 24, 2015, in a 52-75 quarterfinals loss to Everett High School. He contributed 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 blocks. It was played only three miles from the Michigan State University campus. Davis said after the loss, "It was quite important [to help my team advance]. We came out ready to play, but the game just didn't go our way." The game was attended by MSU assistant basketball coach Dwayne Stephens, who helped recruit him to his team. Davis additionally got the chance to meet Spartans players before competing. As Muskegon's star left his team, head coach Keith Guy said, "The future is bright. Two games don't define his career."
By the end of the season, Davis was named Mr. Basketball of Michigan for 2015. In the balloting, he earned a total of 5,223 points. Arthur Hill's Eric Davis and Everett's Trevor Manuel finished after him, getting 3,757 and 2,837 points respectively. The award was won by two straight players from Muskegon High School, Deshaun Thrower winning in 2014. Big Red coach Guy complemented his team, saying, "To have another kid win it for the second consecutive year, it shows how far our programme has come the last three years." Davis was given his personal Mr. Basketball trophy between the quarters of the Michigan state title game, in which Saginaw's Arthur Hill played against Detroit's Western International. He said in disappointment, "I'd much rather be on the floor playing right now."
On April 1, 2015, Davis competed in the 2015 McDonald's All-American Boys Game, playing for the West team. He played alongside the likes of Stephen Zimmerman and Jalen Brunson and against Diamond Stone and Cheick Diallo. Davis finished the game with 6 points and 9 rebounds, leading his team in the latter category. In January, when he was named to the game, Bank Hoops scout Steve Bell said, "This is huge for West Michigan." The forward was the first player from that region to seem at the stage after Matt Steigenga in 1988.
Davis played one season at Michigan State, averaging 7.5 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game, and 1.6 blocks per game. Davis started 16 of the final 17 games of the season for the Spartans. Davis was a key part to Michigan States record setting start to the season, Big Ten Tournament Championship, and MSU's second overall final rank in the AP Poll. He set the school freshman record with 64 blocked shots, second-most in a single season in programme history.
With the good season under his belt, Davis declared for the draft on April, 12th, 2016. Coach Tom Izzo said the following on the decision to leave early, "As a coach, my job is to help my players grow both on and off the basketball court ... [T]he real thrill as a coach is getting to see my players live their dreams. I look forward to following Deyonta's development and career in the NBA for years to come."
Davis was quoted as saying "It was a tough decision, but after talking to my family and coaches, I felt it was the right decision and one I'm fully committed to. ... I'll always be a Spartan and look forward to coming back to campus like so a large number of additional pros do now." Davis and teammate Denzel Valentine were selected to attend the 2016 NBA Combine. Davis hired Bill Duffy as his agent.
Jonathan Givony from DraftExpress had the following to say on Davis: "Although he doesn't produce eye-popping numbers, his ability to switch on screens and stay in front of players big and small has been huge for the Spartans, especially late in games. ... Casual fans should try and get to know him better as the Tournament moves on, provided Michigan State is able to advance, as there's a pretty good chance the NBA will be calling for him when the season is over."
While Davis was consistently labelled as a lottery selection all the way until the day of the 2016 NBA Draft, in the actual 2016 NBA Draft on June 23, 2016, Davis was chosen by the Boston Celtics with their second round pick, thirty-first overall. His rights were later traded to the Memphis Grizzlies, pending league approval. Davis would be the first green room invitee to not hear his name get called in the first round after Rashard Lewis in the 1998 NBA Draft.