On Thursday, history could be achieved if Antoine Davis, the Detroit Mercy star, scores 26 points in his team’s matchup against Youngstown State in the Horizon League tournament quarterfinals (8 p.m. ET on ESPN+) and passes “Pistol” Pete Maravich on the career scoring list. He needs 25 points to tie the mark.
For multiple generations, Maravich’s record of 3,667 points in three seasons at LSU always seemed too incredible to pursue. After all, he did it averaging 44.2 points per game without a 3-point line. (It’s worth noting, though, that across men’s and women’s Division I hoops, Kelsey Plum got to within 140 points of him in four seasons at Washington.)
But the additional year granted to all players because of COVID allowed Davis, who now has 3,642 points in his career, to return to Detroit Mercy for a fifth season. He has averaged 25.5 PPG in his five seasons, which also includes the NCAA record for career 3-pointers (584 and counting).
In women’s college basketball, Kelsey Plum — who played at Washington — set the women’s record with 3,527 points, then passing Jackie Stiles.
Davis respects Maravich and his record. He never thought he’d come close to breaking it, but he recently told ESPN that he’s grateful for the experience.
“Yeah, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t [think about Maravich’s record],” Davis told ESPN after moving into the No. 2 slot earlier this season. “It’s a big accomplishment. At the end of the day, No. 2 with 3,274 points is something that’s never been done either, so I’m just playing and having fun and enjoying this.”
Here are five things to know about Davis as he attempts to break the Division I career scoring mark.
He nearly left his father’s school last summer
At Detroit, Davis is coached by his father, Mike Davis. That bond has helped him grow as a player. Last summer, however, he entered the transfer portal and talked to multiple schools, including BYU and Maryland, because he wanted to prove himself against high-level competition. He decided, however, to stay at Detroit and make an attempt to lead the program to its first NCAA tournament appearance in more than a decade. “I just felt like it wouldn’t have felt right playing somewhere else or ending my career somewhere at a big school, even though that’s what I really wanted to do,” he told ESPN. “I feel like I made the right decision. I love the team that we have. I love this university so much. They’ve treated me so well since the first day I stepped on campus.”
He used to watch Maravich’s videos when he was kid
When he was a young player, Davis learned about Maravich through YouTube. Maravich’s training videos, which show the Hall of Famer dribbling between his legs and around his back, became a model for Davis, who tried to implement the same moves into his game. “I don’t take anything away from Pistol Pete,” he said. “He’s a great scorer. And my dad is always telling me how great of a scorer he was. … I’ve heard so much about Pistol Pete. I’ve always known about him.”
He respects the criticism about his potential record
Davis knows a lot of folks will put an asterisk next to his record, if he achieves it, because he had an extra college season. But he says his record is worth recognizing, too. Davis has 2,961 field goal attempts in his career and Maravich had 3,166, although the 3-point line also impacts the conversation around the record. “The [fifth year] helps a lot,” Davis said. “I was looking at [Maravich’s] stats and my dad was looking at [Maravich’s] stats from his college years, the three years he played, and there wasn’t a year that he didn’t shoot 35-plus shots per game in his three years there. I take a lot of shots, but I don’t take 35 shots per game, if that makes any sense. … These are all my points with no extra games being played [in the NCAA tournament], which is something that is kind of unheard of.”
He’d take the NCAA tournament over Maravich’s record
Davis is getting a lot of attention because of his pursuit of the NCAA scoring mark, but he said he’d trade it all for a chance to take his team to the NCAA tournament for the first time in his career. “I’d pick my team in the NCAA tournament [over the record],” Davis said. “That’s something I’ve always wanted to be a part of: to be in the NCAA tournament. When my dad was at Texas Southern (2012-18), they ran that conference (SWAC) and they always went to the NCAA tournament and I always got to go with them. I experienced it from a spectator standpoint. I really want to be a part of something like that. If I had to choose between the two, I would definitely choose doing it with this team that we have and going to the tournament instead of just breaking the scoring record.”
He’s honored to even be mentioned among the greats
Davis said that he never set out to beat Maravich’s record but also that he’s excited that, years from now, he’ll still be respected as one of the game’s top competitors. “My name is going to be in this forever,” he said. “When I get older and have kids, this is something I could tell my kids about. So this is something really special.”