Horizon League Breakout Candidate: Amari Davis

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We all know it’s coming, that’s why it’s so hard to say it

Can the league’s ninth-leading scorer really be considered a candidate to break out?

Yes, but everyone has trouble calling it a breakout because it’s obviously going to happen.

If Amari Davis’ production wound up similar to what it was last year where he was a Third Team All-Horizon League selection after averaging 15.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game it would be considered a massive disappointment. We’re expecting the standout freshman to improve going into his sophomore year, particularly now that he’s stepping out of 2020 First Team All-League guard JayQuan McCloud’s shadow.

If not for the introduction of the All-League Third Team, Davis would’ve gone without any honors last year except those reserved for freshmen. Now he’s a near-universal All-League First Team Preseason pick. Any player who went from exclusively All-Freshman honors to the First Team All-League would rightly be considered a breakout player. Is the introduction of the All-League Third Team making it that difficult to call Davis’ emergence as Green Bay’s go-to guy a breakout?

One element that might make it hard to call the progression that everyone sees coming a breakout is how Davis went about earning Horizon League Freshman of the Year. If he had been a single-digit scorer who stuffed the stat sheet in other ways, it might be easier to accept that he was going to break out by becoming Green Bay’s go-to scorer while still doing all of those little things as a sophomore.

For Davis, a big part of a breakout season will likely involve him filling the rest of the stat sheet. PJ Pipes should be the biggest beneficiary of McCloud’s graduation by filling in for him at point guard, but Davis will have the ball at the end of the shot clock far more often in 2021 than he did last year. In addition to being the team’s go-to scorer from the start of the season, he’ll have the ball late in the shot clock with more opportunities to drive and dish that will result in his assist totals improving.

If there’s one thing that might keep Davis from living up to his Preseason First Team All-League projections, it’s the coaching change Green Bay underwent this offseason. The change from Linc Darner’s up-tempo offense to a branch off of the Bo Ryan coaching tree with Bo’s son Will may result in the Phoenix playing a dramatically different style this year than the team did in 2020. While it’s likely Ryan would wait to install his own style if the team returned much of the talent from last year’s third place Horizon League finisher, Davis and Pipes are the only players who saw extensive minutes coming back for the Phoenix. With so many teams projected to be so comparable, the All-League teams may come down to who posts the most impressive counting stats. If a dramatically slowed tempo deflates Davis’ stats, he might not jump off the page enough for First Team All-League honors and an argument against a breakout season could be made.

Assuming Green Bay doesn’t play at a dramatically slower pace under Will Ryan than it did under Linc Darner, Amari Davis’ first full season as go-to-guy should be a spectacular one on the court and the stat sheet. Given how heavily praised he already is it might be difficult to consider him a candidate to break out, but a jump all the way to a First Team All-League selection would absolutely qualify.

Miss anything from Preview Week(s)? Check it all out below:

HoriZone Roundtable Predictions
HoriZone Roundtable Preseason PollPreseason All-League Teams
If we had an All-Newcomer Team…All-Freshman Team Picks

Team Previews
Wright StateYoungstown StateRobert MorrisCleveland State
UICOaklandNorthern KentuckyDetroit Mercy
Green BayPurdue Fort WayneMilwaukeeIUPUI

Official Horizon League Predictions
Men’s Basketball Preseason PollMen’s Basketball All-League Picks
Women’s Basketball Preseason PollWomen’s Basketball All-League Picks

Breakout Candidates
Dante TreacyTrevon FaulknerAdrian Nelson

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