Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Freshman Focus: Robert Davis Jr.

Get to know UMass’ 6-foot-6-inch freshman guard
Chris Tucci / UMass Athletics

After committing to the Massachusetts men’s basketball team in late August, Robert Davis Jr. quickly became familiar to much of UMass’ fanbase, at least those on Twitter. The 6-foot-6-inch, 175-pound guard has joined Twitter Spaces, participated in interviews and engaged with seemingly every Minutemen fan on the platform.

As active as Davis is off the court, he might be just as noticeable on it. The Detroit native shone for Southern California Academy this past fall and picked UMass over 13 other Division-I offers. With departures opening the door for new contributors in the backcourt next season, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Davis logging major minutes sooner rather than later for the Minutemen.

Editor’s note: quotes may be lightly edited for clarity.


What led you to choose UMass?

“Honestly, what led me to UMass was first, Coach Frank [Martin]. When I came on my unofficial visit last year during the Elite Camp, just speaking with him and his honesty and just how real I thought he was in that moment, Frank was definitely a big part of me coming to UMass. And then also Ricky [Harris] (former UMass director of basketball operations), he left but Ricky was also definitely a focal point for me, because he helped recruit me from the last staff. So I’ve been around the UMass community for, I want to say like two and a half years or so. But between the coaching staff and then when I came and saw how beautiful the campus was, the culture, the people around here. Honestly, when I went home from the unofficial visit, it was almost like a no-brainer. Certain stuff just started adding up and aligning. So I didn’t waste any time when I went home for two weeks, and I committed on Aug. 27.”

What’s your playstyle like?

“Number one, I’m a shooter. One of the best shooters in the country. That’s one. But I also, I can score from all facets of the basketball game. I’m going to score first and honestly, I can give it to you however you want. But on the flip side of things, I’m an energy guy. I’m always 100 percent 110 percent of the time. When big plays are made, you will see me with fans, with my teammates, just always being high energy. And that’s one of the things I feel like was a big part of my recruitment because you know, everybody can put the ball in the basket. But you just need high-character guys on your team if you want to be successful. Being a high-character guy is something that I try to preach to my teammates and it’s something that I’ve definitely put on a pedestal as something I have to do every day.”

What professional players inspire your game?

“I’ll give you three. Mikal Bridges, Kobe Bryant, and then Edmund Sumner… also you can add Trey Murphy to that list too. The thing about Mikal is that he’s able to play in multiple different roles and that’s something that I am very good at. I can be your number one guy, I can be your shooter, I can be your sixth man, I can play all facets of the ball… And then when it comes to Kobe, just his footwork and then his mindset. You know, Kobe videos come up on my [social media] timeline all the time, but just listening to him and how dedicated he was, how much he works on his craft and how much he wants to perfect it and how he tries to preach it to his teammates. I feel like that’s something that I take and breed every single day. Kobe’s been my favorite player since I’ve known what basketball was. So that’s definitely some things I take from those two players.”

What should fans expect from your upcoming web series, “Kickin’ it with Robert”?

“Honestly, from my end, it’s just what I’m feeling during the day, you know. Just different aspects of the days that I go through and the first episode’s actually going to come out [June 15]. And it’s really going to be kind of like this, just getting to know me and getting to know the fans as well. Just engaging with fans because that’s kind of what we need right now, honestly. You know, getting people in the gym, in the seats. So the “Kickin’ it with Robert” is definitely going to be fun. I’ll have some Motivational Mondays on there. I’ll probably — when people start coming around, I’ll probably start going around campus, you know, ask people like interview questions and stuff like that. So it’ll definitely be fun.”

Favorite high school basketball memory?

“My favorite high school basketball memory was my senior year before my post-grad year at Hamtramck. We were fortunate to win the first district championship in 38 years, I believe, for the school. And just the feeling of winning that and how much it meant to the community because it’s a small town in Detroit. It was just an amazing feeling. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. And I really do miss playing with those guys. We went through a lot that season, a lot with people outside the gym and then they tried to deem me ineligible in the middle of the season. It was kind of crazy, honestly. But I’m so fortunate for that experience. It taught me a lot about myself and how to be a leader.”

Toughest guy you’ve had to guard?

“You’d think I’m lying but I’d probably say [UMass signee] Jaylen Curry. He had an amazing day against us. We played them at Peach Jam and him and Trey Parker: they were not missing that game. They were not missing.”

Most famous person in your contacts?

“Carmelo Anthony, he’s the most famous.”

Favorite movie?

“Love & Basketball, for sure.”

Go-to warm-up music right now?

“Okay, first of all, it has to be R&B. I cannot play basketball to rap music… But as of lately, I’ve been listening to the new Summer Walker album that just came out. It’s called a clear life or soft life or something like that (Clear 2: Soft Life EP). But that’s definitely been on replay.”

Favorite fast food place and your order?

“I got to go with McDonald’s, man. I get a number five with the 10-piece meal, a large fry, large sweet tea, three chocolate chip cookies.”

One thing your hometown does better than Amherst?

“It’s a lot going on in Detroit. But I’d say in Detroit, we’ve got this thing called a Coney Island. It’s literally like a place where you can get from French toast, eggs and bacon to a 12-piece wingding dinner to a grilled chicken salad, you can really get anything from there. But like there’s a Coney Island on like every corner. There’s a million of them… that’s something irreplaceable.”

Dean Wendel can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @DeanWende1.

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