Osprey comes out flying in his freshman season

Scott Kunath

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Chris Davenport takes flight for a two-handed jam. Photo Credit: John Shippee 

The UNF men’s basketball team is off to its best start in conference play ever, earning a 5-2 record. The success is due in large part to the young talent that head coach Matthew Driscoll has brought to the program over the last few years. This season, seven of the 11 players on UNF’s roster are freshmen or sophomores. One of these standout players is freshman Chris Davenport.

The 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 4.2 rebounds a game, good enough for eighth in the A-Sun conference. He has played in all 20 games so far this season and is posting an average of 6.5 points per game.

Davenport grew up in College Park, Ga. When he was younger, his family and friends told him he’s bigger than everybody else and he should play basketball. When he first started playing basketball, he didn’t like it very much.

“I felt like I was playing it because everyone was making me. But the more I played it, the more I grew to love the game,” Davenport said.

Davenport was a force to be reckoned with in high school basketball and capped off his senior year at Eagles Landing High School with a state championship. His dominant play drew the attention of many schools, but he ultimately chose UNF.

He said defense wasn’t a priority in high school because of the large discrepancy in talent. Now that he’s competing at the college level with teams like Michigan State and Ohio State, he understands defense is a necessity.

“I had to buy in on defense,” Davenport said: “Coach Driscoll stresses defense a lot and that’s how you’re going to play. That’s how you win games.”

Transitioning from being the leader of his high school team to a freshman on a college team might seem intimidating to most, but not to Davenport.

“I still talk,” he said: “I’m very vocal, that’s just how I’ve always been. I try to lead as much as I can.”

Davenport has two double-doubles this season and his 17-point effort against Mercer on New Year’s Day helped UNF to its first ever 2-0 start in conference play.

Though he has had success this season, Davenport leads the Ospreys with 54 turnovers and even though he’s a leader at heart, Davenport realizes there’s always room to improve and sometimes you just have to listen.
“As freshmen, we just need to accept coaching,” Davenport said. “[Driscoll] really taught me that whatever you put into this game is what you’re going to get out of it.”

His goals are simple and to the point. He wants to maintain good grades, something he said his mother instilled in him at an early age. Whether it’s on the road or in his favorite lounge chair on the second floor of the UNF library, Davenport always finds time to study. His other goal is to win the A-Sun Championship and go to the NCAA Tournament.

Davenport is not only a rising star on the basketball court, he also does his part for the Jacksonville community. The team recently went to a local orphanage and played basketball with the children there.

Davenport said, “We let them know that just because of the situation they’re in, don’t let that discourage them from trying to be all that they can be in life.”

Growing up in College Park wasn’t the most glamorous life for the player. That’s one of his reasons he thinks it is important to give back, especially to the youth programs.

“I came from a situation back home where it wasn’t perfect,” Davenport said, “So whenever I get a chance to help kids that come from less fortunate situations, I really try to make sure I put my all into it.”

Davenport carries that selflessness from his community work back onto court, putting emphasis on the team’s River City Rumble win against Jacksonville University over his individual performance of a double-double against Mercer.

“I’d much rather have good team victories like that than have a good personal performance,” Davenport said. “As long as we win, that’s all I care about.”

Coach Driscoll has brought some talented young athletes to UNF, which has Davenport excited for the future of the Ospreys basketball program. He said it means a lot to have seven players that will be together for the next three years and he’s happy in his decision to come to UNF.

Davenport said, “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I feel right where I belong.”