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UMass transfer Robert Davis Jr. ready to rebuild historic Old Dominion



With new Old Dominion head coach Mike Jones taking over for the program following stints as an assistant coach at both Virginia Tech and Maryland, this offseason has put the Monarchs in rebuild mode.

Marking Jones’ first transfer portal addition of the spring is former UMass freshman guard Robert Davis Jr. who announced his commitment to the program on March 22..

For Davis, his arrival in Norfolk, VA is all about the relationships he’s developed throughout his young career.

“I’m a relationship guy,” Davis told TPR. “My connection to both assistant coach Jamal Robinson and head coach Mike Jones, it was just an unbelievable match. There’s always assistant coaches that will recruit you but you always want to have that relationship with a coach as well. Knowing that you have a guy that believes in you, is going to hold you accountable and he’s also going to try to make you the best player that you can be while also trying to make you the best man that you can be.”

According to Davis, that relationship with Jones extends all the way back to his AAU days playing for Team Melo while the new Old Dominion talisman was leading DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland.

“I had known of Mike Jones and seen him around when I was playing AAU basketball,” said Davis. “Just crossing paths, seeing him around, having conversations and things like that but when I got into the portal one of our first conversations he was talking about when he saw me play. He loved my style of play and knowing he believed in me at that point in my career made our relationship grow even stronger in just a week.”

While programs from all across the country reached out during recruitment, having an opportunity to be a part of this new tenure and the rebuild at Old Dominion caught the attention of Davis.

Amongst the schools that expressed interest, Davis mentioned places such as Central Michigan, Portland State, North Dakota State and more, but knew early on that Old Dominion was the fit for him.

“This is Jones’ first head coaching job and I want to be a part of him building something,” said Davis. “It was just really a no-brainer honestly when it comes to the relationship side of things.

Along that rebuild, Jones has already secured a commitment from Robert Morris transfer Stephaun Walker, as well as a key returner in Devin Ceaser and an incoming three-star guard in Deion Ware who recently reaffirmed his commitment

While Davis hasn’t had a chance to meet his teammates just yet, he said he’s already seen how enthusiastic everybody is to be a part of this program under the leadership of Jones.

“We’ve interacted on social media and things of that nature and we’re honestly really excited,” said Davis. “To come in and build and to actually be able to affect winning right away, that’s our goal currently.”

Although it’s still early into the transfer portal season and Davis was one of the nation’s first commitments, he has been on campus and was able to check out Chartway Arena.

According to Davis, he was actually Jones’ first recruiting visit as a head coach and felt like that sense of priority was what made joining Old Dominion such an easy decision.

“It’s a beautiful campus with a lot of culture and I had a meeting with the president and the [athletic director] and that alone in itself showed me how family oriented the entire school is and how supported I would be if I chose [ODU],” said Davis. “[The night of my visit] I went back to the hotel and I had told myself I was going to take a week but there was no reason to wait and so I told [my parents] that I was going to [commit] that night. The reaction was unbelievable, my family, coach Jones and coach Robinson shed tears because we’re starting to build something.”

As far as what his role will be along this rebuild, Davis brings a competitive pretagree over from UMass having made 30 appearances as a freshman to average 4.1 PPG and 1.6 RPG in limited minutes.

At 6-foot-6, the Detroit, Michigan native will be a versatile piece for Jones who can score effectively, bring the energy, and be a leader on what’ll be a youthful roster this season.

For Davis, having the opportunity to impact winning at a high level and be a consistent part of the rotation to show off his development was critical in taking that next step in his career.

“I bring my all to the floor each and every time I go 100%,” he said. “I’m a very high level shooter. It’s one of the many crafts that I work on but off my shooting, I’m a great passer and am able to create offensively when it comes to the mid range area, getting to the rim, getting my teammates open shots and things like that. I’m also constantly moving off the ball to create space for myself, my teammates and my IQ is one of my best features as an athlete because with athleticism it can only get you so far, you have to know the ins and outs of the game.

Now joining Old Dominion, Davis said he’s taken time to familiarize himself with the school’s football and basketball tradition and what it means to be a part of such a historic program.

Still months away from next season, he’s prepared for the challenges ahead and understands what it’ll take to make the Monarchs a contender in a high level conference like the Sun Belt.

“Honestly, everywhere that I went on the campus [there was a lot of fan support],” said Davis. “Knowing that we’re building our football program up right now and then we’re also building our basketball programs and knowing the history of ODU when it comes to women’s and men’s basketball. Knowing that coach Mike Jones went there himself with [special assistant to the head coach] Coach Odell [Hodge] as well. Just knowing their story and then coming back, and trying to really bring [Old Dominion] back to what it once was. I really wanted to be part of that myself.”

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