Davis improving conditioning as important sophomore season looms

As the spring semester ended, and his goals for Indiana’s offseason came into focus, new IU coach Archie Miller sent De’Ron Davis into the summer with a challenge.

Improve your conditioning and get in better shape.

That’s because Miller has high hopes for the sophomore forward, who will be asked to take on greater responsibilities as the centerpiece to IU’s frontcourt next season. More than a month into the summer, Davis is following through.

After beginning the off-season at 271 pounds, Davis recently trimmed down to 255 pounds in anticipation of a transformative second season of college basketball.

To Miller, those are major gains — and exactly what he was looking for.

“You can start to see the bounce in him a little bit,” Miller said. “When he’s on the floor, when he’s in the locker room, when he’s around our staff, he’s got a much more positive bounce. I think he feels good about what he’s doing right now.”

That, Miller hopes, will carry into the fall, when Indiana will need Davis at his best.

Now that Thomas Bryant has left IU to pursue a professional career, Davis is on track to become Indiana’s primary post player for the 2017-18 season.

A year ago, Davis offered glimpses of his potential. He played in 34 games and made four starts, averaging 5.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per contest. At several points during Big Ten season, Davis demonstrated an advanced feel for playing in the post.

Although foul trouble plagued him throughout the year, Davis, who began last season at 240 pounds, still found a niche as a big man off the bench.

Over the coming months, Miller needs Davis to transform that niche role into primary production.

“De’Ron’s got a new job. He’s got a new role,” Miller said. “Whatever he thought it was gonna be during his freshman — ‘Boy, I wish I could play 40 minutes a game. I wish I could do that.’ You can. You’re all good now. Sometimes it breaks that way.

“De’Ron is in a great situation. He’s got an opportunity, and with that opportunity comes excitement, but also comes reality. Where are you right now? Where do you have to be to do the things that you’re going to be asked to do?”

The first step was changing Davis’ body. That will be an ongoing process this summer and throughout next season, but Miller says the early returns are promising.

Davis remained on campus after the semester ended and worked with new strength and conditioning coach Clif Marshall. With IU players returning for team-wide workouts and beginning to build a bridge toward next season, Miller wants Davis at the forefront of that movement.

So far, Miller likes where he’s headed.

“If he stays with it and keeps doing what we’re doing,” Miller said, “I think he’s going to set himself up for a great start.”