DETROIT – The bleachers at the old Calihan Hall gym go directly up to the court’s sideline. The same sideline where Detroit Mercy graduate senior guard Antoine Davis gets ready to do what he does best. Score.
Davis sits on the court’s sideline for his ritual of foam roller and stretching exercises. He wears his over-the-ear Apple AirPods headphones, keeping himself grounded in an environment where he’s the focal point. His playlist before taking on IUPUI on Feb. 19 included the likes of artists MF Doom, Jay-Z and Kanye West.
Occasionally, Davis is interrupted by fans sitting a handful of feet away from him for an autograph or word of encouragement. Thanks to an innate sense of kindness, Davis always obliges. It’s his own way of connecting with those who share love for the university that has given him so much.
Once done, he is sure to take another internal moment on the bench prior to the game’s tip, saying a prayer and soaking up the scene during one of his final collegiate games.
“It’s something that I do every game.” Davis said. “A lot of people wish that they could play this game, so I never take it for granted.”
Currently, he is college basketball’s all-time leader in 3-pointers with 588 total. He has 3,664 total points during his career at UDM, only three shy of Pete Maravich’s 3,667, the all-time scoring record.
Against IUPUI, Davis broke Detroit Mercy’s single-season records for 3-pointers, passing Rashad Phillips’ 136, and points scored (785), which was also possessed by Phillips. These were two of the only records that Davis had yet to hold in his college career.
Davis’ best friend in Detroit, Mark Roze, has been along for the ride during Antoine’s record breaking career, feeling grateful to be a part of it.
“It’s incredible. It’s a race, it’s a journey.” Roze said. “We try to support him in every way, even (off the court).”
Roze appreciates the person that Davis is, outside of who he is as a basketball player, which he’s widely known for.
“(Davis) is the nicest guy that I know. He doesn’t let any of the superstardom go to his head, like most people would.” Roze said. “He can be friends with anybody. (Davis) is hilarious. He’s calm, has a great demeanor and takes good care of himself and his friends.”
Talks surrounding the multitude of records that Davis has set, or is closing in on, is hard to escape for anyone in the arena.
In the corner closest to the Titans bench, ‘The Chase’ is continuously counted for Davis. A banner dons Davis’ name, where his career 3-pointers are counted on the lefthand side, while his career point total is tallied on the right.
A point of pride for those in attendance, being that a player doing such outstanding things takes the court for their small mid-major school.
“(The record board) is there and it’s big, so I’m always going to see it (in the game).” Davis said. “But, I’m not worried about it. I just do what I can do to win us games.”
Detroit Mercy’s basketball program is a family affair for Davis.
His father, Mike Davis, is the team’s head coach. Antoine’s older brother, Mike Davis Jr., is a top assistant on his father’s bench.
Mike Davis’ first year at the helm of the program was in 2018-19, which was Antoine’s first season with the team, where he was honored as the Horizon League’s Freshman of the Year.
After four seasons starring for the Titans, Davis entered the NCAA’s transfer portal, briefly considering playing out his final year of eligibility at a larger school. Deciding between Power 5 level programs like Kansas State, Georgetown, Maryland and BYU, as well as returning to Detroit Mercy, according to Tim Fitzgerald of GoPowercat.com and 247sports.
The choice, however, was to stay at the school he considers home. Finishing out his college career where he can look over and see both his father and brother on the bench. Hoping to lead the program to an NCAA tournament berth out of the Horizon league.
“I’m so glad I stayed and didn’t transfer. I’m so happy to be here, I love (Detroit Mercy) with all my heart.” Davis said. “(This university) has done so much for me. They brought me, my dad and my brother here and welcomed my family in. That’s something really special.”
During UDM’s game against IUPUI, Davis was struggling to see his shot fall. However, he started to find his groove heading into crunch time of the game, helping lead his team to an 81-68 victory.
He recorded six steals, which was a career-high for the senior guard. Another personal accomplishment in the long list already under his belt.
“I had six steals?” Davis said, with a surprised look on his face, immediately turning to the elder Davis next to him to ensure that he knew about it, both sharing a laugh.
“If Antoine has anything that’s six other than points, it’s a chuckle.” Coach Mike Davis said, smiling to himself, as his son is known primarily as a scorer.
Antoine’s number zero went up into the rafters of Calihan Hall when the Titans played their last home game of the regular season against Wright State on Feb. 25. The first time that a player on Detroit Mercy’s active roster has seen their jersey retired, according to The Detroit News.
“It’s validating for (Davis).” Dan Hasty, play-by-play voice for the Titans, said.
“I think that he has always had a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He’s been trying to prove what people have said about him, whether that he’s too small or he can’t propel his team to win games, or whatever the critique has been. He’s always been fighting against some kind of force. I think the validation of his number going up into the rafters is a sense of accomplishment. When you get your name up in the rafters, you get that up there forever.” Hasty continued.
Davis’ goal is to win. He wants to lead Detroit Mercy to a Horizon League tournament title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Hoping to finish his collegiate career strong, in the same place where it began, for the school that has been his home. The same home for his entire family.
“I’m just enjoying this process. This is my last year, I want to make my last couple of games really special. I want to win this (Horizon League) tournament and I want to get to the NCAA Tournament.” Said Davis ahead of his final contests wearing a Titans jersey.
Nevertheless, Antoine’s jersey retirement is an emotional reflection on an incredible career for the Davis family, and all of those he has made an impact on throughout his time with Detroit Mercy.
“(It’s) definitely emotional, a proud moment. But, we’re going to celebrate.” Roze said, with a smile on his face, thinking back on everything that his best friend has accomplished.