Terence Davis

Toronto Raptors rookie Terence Davis, a standout guard during his time at Ole Miss, has emerged as a valuable reserve for the defending NBA champions.

DALLAS Terence Davis is playing in the NBA with reigning champion Toronto, but the rookie guard from Southaven knows were it not for his time at Ole Miss, he wouldn’t be living his dream.

“I would say I needed every second of it, every year,” Davis said prior to a recent game in Dallas. “I thought I was ready after my sophomore year, didn’t really feel confident in my work. Junior year, I tested the (draft) waters, thought I was ready. Coming off a bad year, that wasn’t really a good look for me and senior year, I think I definitely needed it.”

Paving the way

A lot of the credit goes to the coach who arrived in Oxford before the start of his senior season.

“Being under Kermit Davis just put me in certain situations, different offensive schemes, defensive schemes. Just pretty much put the ball in my mind and helped me for the next leve,l because I didn’t know if I was going to be playing the points or as a combo guard at the next level.”

An undrafted free agent, Davis signed a two-year deal with Toronto in July and has appeared in all 13 games for the Raptors (9-4), averaging 5.0 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.

His playing time as expanded as some of his teammates have gotten injured, including a fractured thumb suffered earlier this month by five-time All-Star guard Kyle Lowry.

“It’s been pretty good. Living the dream, doing something I love to do and in the right situation,” Davis said. “I didn’t expect guys to go down (with injuries) like they did, but fortunately for me it’s worked out in my favor.”

Being a rookie, certain rites of passage fall on his shoulders, like the occasional Starbucks run for his veteran teammates. But Davis has not been asked to lug around the dreaded pink backpack, a rite which other NBA rookies endured in the past.

And Davis has already made a strong impression on Raptors second-year head coach Nick Nurse. “He’s pretty fearless,” Nurse said. “He’s not afraid to take the shot. Tremendous athlete, really fast and strong and can jump, and he can finish at the rim.”

Davis said he focuses on doing all he can to acclimate to the NBA and improve every day. But one date he has circled on the schedule is Toronto’s March 28 trip to Memphis.

“It’s going to be surreal, man. That’s pretty much home,” he said. “I’ll have a lot of people in the building. A lot of people will get the chance to watch me grow as an individual from high school to college to the NBA. It’ll be good for them and me as well. It’s a dream come true.”

Stephen Hunt is a freelance writer based in Frisco, Texas.

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