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Utah State basketball: Kyle Davis standing out in post game

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(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah State Aggies forward Kyle Davis (23) celebrates after giving the Aggies a huge lead in the first half with a slam dunk, in basketball action, Utah State vs.Troy, at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, in Logan, Friday, December 20, 2013.

By Kyle Goon

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Dec 30 2013 07:58PM
Updated Dec 31, 2013 09:42AM

Logan • Talk to Kyle Davis off the court — that’s where he’s most agreeable.

He can be so polite and articulate, it’s hard to understand exactly how his disposition morphs into the garbage rebounder and hustler who can leave his post competitors so flustered.

Since the sophomore has come to Logan off his LDS Church mission, he’s seemed to blend right in to Utah State’s system. The Aggies need an athletic, tirelessly rebounding forward to operate their system, and he’s happy to oblige.

"The goal I had was just to be the best player I could be for this program," he said. "I’m just trying to get back after quite a break on the mission. I think I’m coming along nicely in many aspects."

The 6-foot-7 forward has found plenty of ways to contribute. After a sluggish scoring start, he’s poured in double-digit points in five of his last seven games, while shooting 63.5 percent from the floor. He’s also chipping in a team-leading 8.4 rebounds per game, and advanced stats site KenPom.com lists him as the 17th most efficient offensive rebounder in the nation.

Add 17 blocks and 19 assists to the mix, and Davis adds up to the most well-rounded frontcourt player the Aggies have.

With senior center Jarred Shaw on suspension, Utah State has stepped up its reliance on Davis considerably. Coach Stew Morrill said when Shaw was first suspended that the Aggies’ wouldn’t be able to simply feed the low post as much, but Davis’ increased production has helped address that issue.

"He’s gaining confidence game in and game out," Morrill said after Davis’ 15-point, 15-rebound night against San Diego Christian. "He can really rebound the ball. He’s getting better at finishing at the basket. Like a lot of our guys, he’s got to get better technique defensively, but you know right now he’s a solid low post presence."

The shift to Utah State hasn’t been perfectly smooth, Davis acknowledges.

He’s worked long hours on developing his touch, an issue that is still apparent from his 60 percent shooting percentage. He’s still adjusting to playing against guys his own size, but also many taller players when he switches to center in the Aggies’ small lineup.

These issues help remind him that there’s still work to be done.

"Coach Morrill certainly has a way of instilling that in you every day at practice: Be humble and realize you need coaching," Davis said. "At this level, if you’re not improving, you won’t succeed."

Davis said one of the biggest reasons for his success is teammates who have welcomed him openly. The vets haven’t treated him any differently, and Davis sees that respect extended to freshmen as well.

"I’m just trying to show my teammates that I’m here to work hard and I’m a team player," he said. "To their credit, they’ve been amazing at accepting me."

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon

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