Javian Davis debuts slimmer, more athletic build


CW / Hannah Saad

Jack Kennedy | @jwkennedy24, Staff Reporter

Twenty months passed and 50 pounds of excess weight were shed between the final game of Javian Davis’ high school career and the first game of his collegiate career against Penn last Tuesday.

Having sat out last year due to a lingering injury, Davis, a redshirt freshman forward for the Crimson Tide, had been raring to get back to competitive basketball.

But, his debut was far from perfect.

He struggled in the limited minutes he played. For the 14 minutes he was on the court, Alabama was outscored by 13 points in a one-point loss to Penn. Davis scored just two points and grabbed two rebounds while picking up three personal fouls and turning the ball over once.

“He was kind of into his feelings,” coach Nate Oats said. “He missed some shots he should have made in the lane, and I think it affected his energy in the defensive end and the rebounding part of it. 

“I thought he was playing unbelievable basketball about a month, two months ago in practice,” Oats continued. “He was dominating the glass and playing really hard. I challenged him to get back to that, like, ‘What was your mindset a month ago when no one could keep you off the glass? Whatever your mindset was then, that is what you need to have.’”

When Davis first set foot on campus in 2018, he weighed 287 pounds, which he knew was too big to be playing in the SEC. His weight dropped 20 pounds after one year at Alabama, but after Oats took the head coaching job, Davis took his weight loss to the next level in order to fit into the fast-paced offense that Oats demands.

“It was tough,” Davis said. “When Oats first got here and we started practicing, it was tough for me because I was kind of big or whatever. We went home at the end of May, and I went into a fitness gym and got some running in, some weights in, just trying to tone my body up.”

Another challenging part of the weight loss for Davis was cutting out excess sugar, especially candy. Over the span of a couple months, he disciplined himself to grab protein bars instead of snacking on candy.

“Javian is showing us how much he really wants to play, and to me, that means something,” Oats said. “The kid cuts out all the extra sugar and drops 50 pounds. He’s serious about his game and playing. You want to put guys in the game that are serious about their game.”

It’s not just Oats that has noticed the change in Davis’ physique, but also junior forward Alex Reese, who has also been working on weight loss.

“[He’s] like a whole world different,” Reese said. “He’s done so good, like way better than me as far as transforming his body. It’s really amazing what he’s done.”

The culmination of Davis’ discipline was exhibited in his first career start against Florida Atlantic. His first shot of the game was a missed layup off the underside of the rim, but unlike he did against Penn, he did not let that affect him.

Two possessions later, he found junior guard John Petty Jr. cutting toward the basket and assisted him on a layup. The next possession, he passed the ball out to graduate transfer guard Beetle Bolden in the corner for three, as Alabama took the early lead and Davis began to find his rhythm.

After the half, he scored seven of Alabama’s first nine points in the first 2:50 of the second half. For six of those, he used his slimmer build to be mobile in the paint and bypass his defender. He finished the game with 19 points, 14 of which came in the second half, and nine rebounds.

“I’m really happy for him,” Oats said. “He’s a really good kid that’s worked extremely hard, disciplined himself off the court to eat right, disciplined himself to get in shape to play at the level we need him to play at, and I thought he deserved to have a game like he did tonight.”

He also won the Blue Collar Award, created by Oats, which rewards the player with the most floor dives, charges, offensive rebounds and other “blue-collar” plays that do not show up on the stat sheet.

“It means a lot,” Davis said. “In the game versus Penn, I had a plus-minus of minus-13, so I felt like I had to play harder, pay more attention to the game and just be myself. Me being myself is why I got it.”

Davis still knows that there are improvements to be made in his game due to the limited number of forwards after season-ending injuries to junior James Rojas and freshman Juwan Gary. Oats even mentioned before the season began that the 6-foot-9 forward had been in the gym outside of practice working on his outside shot and becoming more comfortable on the perimeter.

As for what more is to come from Davis this season, Petty said, “We are looking to see something really special from him this year.”