SMU star, recovered from COVID, set for Sam Houston

NCAA Basketball

SMU standout Kendric Davis figures the worst part of his year is in the rearview mirror. He battled the coronavirus in June.

Five months later, the junior point guard feels fresh and healthy as he leads the Mustangs into a season-opening game against visiting Sam Houston State on Wednesday in Dallas.

Davis told the Dallas Morning News last week that he tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-June and then didn’t leave the house for two weeks.

“I had a headache, couldn’t smell, couldn’t really breathe,” Davis told the publication. “… It hurt in my lungs to breathe. It felt like something was up my nose. Not life-threatening, but it hurt to breathe.”

The 5-foot, 11-inch Davis said the situation “wasn’t the worst of the worst” but it made him reflect back on how he didn’t take the coronavirus seriously at the outset.

“I was like, ‘Man, COVID is like the flu. You’re sick. You just get better,'” Davis told the Morning News. “But then once I caught it, I said, ‘Nah, this is way different than the flu.'”

Davis is back on two feet and focusing on building off his strong 2019-20 campaign for the Mustangs.

He was SMU’s second-leading scorer at 14.2 points per game and led the American Athletic Conference in assists at 6.7 per outing. He also averaged 4.1 rebounds and was second on the team with 30 steals.

Mustangs coach Tim Jankovich feels Davis is capable of being recognized as one of the top point guards in the country.

“He’s a really hard worker, he puts in a lot of time away from practice,” Jankovich told the Morning News. “… He’s really worked on some things that he was good at, but not great at. I see a much better player this year.”

Also returning for SMU (19-11 last season) is leading scorer Tyson Jolly, who averaged 14.5 points and 6.2 rebounds last season. The senior guard missed practice time last week to attend to a personal matter and is expected to be on the floor in the opener.

Sam Houston State went 18-13 last season, its eighth straight winning campaign.

Junior guard Zach Nutall is the Bearkats’ top player after averaging 15.4 points and earning first-team All-Southland Conference honors last season.

Nutall recorded eight 20-point outings in 2019-20 and had three steals on seven occasions. He was second on the squad with 45 thefts.

Sam Houston State will receive some strong tests over the next three weeks. The opener at SMU is followed by a game at No. 14 Texas Tech on Friday, and the Bearkats also are slated to play at No. 17 Houston on Dec. 9 and at No. 19 Texas on Dec. 16.

Other early season nonconference opponents include Boise State (Nov. 29) and Rice (Dec. 19).

“I know I may sound redundant, but it’s one of the toughest, if not the toughest, nonconference schedule we’ve ever put together,” said Bearkats coach Jason Hooten, who is starting his 11th season at the school. “Three preseason Top 20 opponents, eight newcomers and a pandemic will give us plenty of early season challenges, but we are excited and looking forward to this opportunity.”

–Field Level Media

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