What was an inspiring offseason push has culminated with a Terence Davis signature along the dotted lines of a new NBA contract.
The former Ole Miss basketball star signed a two-year contract with the defending champion Toronto Raptors after a breakout performance in his first Summer League appearance with the Denver Nuggets.The contract will be fully guaranteed in the first year as first reported by Shams Charania of the Athletic.
“He was awesome,” Jordi Fernandez, Nuggets Summer League head coach, said after the game. “I’ve said it from day one — he’s an NBA player. He proved it today, and I think he’ll keep doing it because this kid is mentally tough.”
Davis’s 22-point effort in his first professional game action was just the final check mark to prove he was NBA ready. The Southaven native entered the offseason off the radar in advance of the upcoming NBA Draft. Impressive performances in prospect camps earned him an invite to the NBA Draft Combine, where he also turned heads.
His name shot up draft boards and he became the darkhorse player to watch as the draft approached, but Davis faced disappointment as his name hadn’t been called after two rounds.
Davis turned down a few two-way contracts, which would split his time between the NBA roster and that team’s G League affiliate, and limit his salary.
“Can’t take a two-way, I’m sorry I’m better than that,” he tweeted shortly after the draft. “The work is not done. It’s just getting started.”
Fast forward to just hours after his extremely efficient outing in a Las Vegas Summer League game, where he made five of his seven shots from three, and Davis is the owner of a full NBA contract with the opportunity to play almost immediately.
“It’s been a grind, just overcoming adversity,” Davis said. “I thought I would hear my name called on draft night, but I didn’t, and now it’s a whole other process and I’m just here to take advantage of my opportunities.”
The roller coaster over the last few months was just a small piece of a long, winding basketball journey for Davis. As a star wide receiver and raw basketball player with amazing athleticism out of Southaven High School, he was close to taking his talents to the gridiron. Davis decided against outside push and came to Oxford to play for Andy Kennedy at Ole Miss.
After riding the bench most of his freshman year, Davis established himself as the top scorer in his sophomore season. A disappointing junior season ended with the departure of Andy Kennedy, but an offensive resurgence and new identity on defense under Kermit Davis helped Terence lead the Rebels to the NCAA Tournament.
Davis’s progression over the past four years found him a new home north of the border, but his journey is not over. He’s shown potential to be a consistent shot maker with disruptive defensive abilities, but sheer potential alone will not get him an extension.
“It’s something that most teams had concerns about,” Davis said about his jumper. “It’s something that I’ve been working really hard on this offseason in the gym just getting a bunch of reps in and it’s definitely coming to play.”
Fortunately for Davis, Toronto seems like a perfect fit for him to continue the upward trend in his game. The Raptors are in need of perimeter defenders with the departures of Danny Green and Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard in free agency. Davis will have the benefit to play with veterans like Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka as well as Fred VanVleet, who played a major role in the NBA Finals this year after following a similar path as Davis, going undrafted in 2016.
Davis now has the opportunity to develop quickly while getting precious experience off the bench for the Raptors. The club also signed Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Patrick McCaw and a few other perimeter players, but if Davis can separate himself from the competition just like he’s done ever since he left Oxford, he can provide immediate impact for a young team looking to reload.